Strange turn lands Tomas Vokoun in D.C.

July, 2, 2011
One of the interesting byproducts of Friday's signing festival was that when the music stopped, the best goaltender on the market, Tomas Vokoun, didn't have a seat.

Curious, but that's how it shakes out sometimes on July 1.

Still, it was a strange turn of events given Friday's whirlwind nature that Vokoun didn't end up with a starting gig somewhere. Then Saturday afternoon, he ended up taking a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Washington Capitals and presumably will battle incumbent Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby for playing time.

The Colorado Avalanche looked like the perfect destination for the veteran netminder, especially after Vokoun turned down a pre-July 1 offer from his old team, the Florida Panthers, ensuring he would hit the market.

But the Avs did an about-face and acquired oft-injured Washington netminder Semyon Varlamov for a first- and second-round draft pick. They then signed former Stanley Cup winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who had been displaced in Toronto.

We are told the Avs did contact Vokoun's representatives early in free agency and asked that Vokoun not sign a deal until they had a chance to talk about the possibility of him coming to Denver.

By the time that chat actually happened, most of the first hour of free agency had evaporated and the Avs were headed in another direction. Despite rumors or misinformation to the contrary, there was never an official offer made for Vokoun's services by the Avalanche. In fact, dollar and term were never discussed.

The Panthers, meanwhile, signed free-agent netminder Jose Theodore to fill Vokoun's spot and the Phoenix Coyotes, another team looking for starting goaltending, were on their way to signing Mike Smith to a two-year deal.

And so Day 1 became Day 2 and Vokoun was looking to chart a Plan B he didn't think he'd need to chart, a Plan B that sees him land in Washington.

Wonder if we'll remember this curious turn of events next June come Stanley Cup finals time?

Scott Burnside

ESPN Senior Writer



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