Before we begin, here is how you pronounce his name: MI-kul NEW-virth.
Now that we have that out of the way, Michal Neuvirth, or as fans know him “Neuvy”, is arguably the most important member of the Washington Capitals’ recent youth movement. Why you ask? A great goalie can carry you all the way to a Stanley Cup victory. Just ask the Bruins.
Neuvirth was the second round pick (34th overall) by the Capitals in the 2006 NHL draft. As is common with goaltenders, he spent two years playing in a major junior league. He officially turned pro in 2008, joining the South Carolina Stingrays (the ECHL affiliate of the Capitals). He impressed during his time there, and was quickly called up in 2009, serving as the team’s backup. He was sent back down to Hershey to get the chance to play everyday and led the Bears to their 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 Calder Cups. He serves as the backup goalie for the 2011-2012 Capitals. He’s a butterfly goalie, although he has been working on being more comfortable in the stand up position.
Neuvy is just 23, but he has already impressed Capitals fans with his poise and lightning quick reflexes. He handles himself in an extremely professional manner. I’ve really been impressed with him so far, but I do think he needed to serve a year under a guy like Tomas Vokoun just to have someone to learn from. He has all the physical tools necessary to succeed in the NHL, but he doesn’t have a complete understanding of the preparation and focus it takes to be successful in the NHL. I think serving under Tomas Vokoun will definitely help him in the long run.
Neuvy does has one major flaw: His positioning is below average. This is something that he’s been improving on though, and Neuvy is very athletic for a goalie, so usually he can compensate if he is caught out of position.
Many people wanted Neuvy to start the year in Hershey so that he could get to play everyday. I respectfully disagree. Watching him in Hershey in 2010, he was a men among boys. I think he’s learned everything that he can learn from the AHL, and he’s going to learn more from Vokoun and watching him play than he ever could playing everyday.
To see Michal Neuvirth’s career stats, click here.
Neuvirth flashes some leather on this save: