Getting to Know… Vitek Vanecek

By
Posted April 1, 2019

(Cory Lyons)

The Capitals are fortunate to have some strong goalie stocks in the form of Stanley Cup hero Braden Holtby and reliable current backup Pheonix Copley. This depth extends down to Hershey where Ilya Samsonov and Czech product Vitek Vanecek.

Vanecek, 23, a native of Havlickuv Brod in the Czech Republic, is the Bears’ current starting goaltender and is a key contributor to Hershey’s recent strong form and playoff push. He was selected as Hershey’s sole representative for the 2019 AHL All Star Game earlier this year.

Vanecek worked his way through local U16, U18 and U20 teams in Havlickuv Brod from 2009, posting strong statistics at the Junior level with his SVS% not slipping under .800 during that time. He represented his country at international level in the Czech U17 squad in 2013, posting a SVS% of .853 in the 8 game tournament.

A junior career highlight came in the form of a silver medal at the World Junior Championship level during which he posted a SVS% of .911 and a GAA of 2.52 in the 22 game tournament.

The Capitals came calling in 2014 as Vanecek was selected in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Level Draft at 39th overall. The Capitals signed the young Czech to a three year entry level contract that year.

Vanecek returned to home soil, determined to prove himself ready for the top level, playing between HC Bílí Tygři Liberec of the Czech Extraliga and HC Benátky nad Jizerou of the 1st Czech Republic Hockey League in 2014-15. He appeared on the world stage again several times for the Czech U19 and U20 squads.

In 2015, Vanecek made his North American debut, joining Capitals AHL affiliate the Hershey Bears for a single game before spending a 32 regular season and 11 playoff game stint with the Caps’ ECHL affiliate in South Carolina, posting a .917 SVS%. As a result of his form in South Carolina Vanecek was selected for the 2015-16 ECHL Rookie All Star Team.

After representing the Czech Republic U20 squad the same season, Vanecek became was assigned to the permanent roster in Hershey, suiting up for 39 games in the 2016-17 season and posting a SVS% of .909 during that time.

Vanecek has played 64 games for the Bears since 2017 and has proved a solid and reliable net minder for Hershey during that time. His All Star selection in 2019 was well deserved with a .902 SVS% across 32 games.

Although yet to make his NHL debut, Vanecek is playing consistent hockey in Hershey and his stats and All Star Selection will no doubt have the Capitals paying attention. The Capitals’ goalie depth is certainly looking positive as the regular season comes to an end and the Stanley Cup playoffs approach.

Vanecek will also be keen to post a strong finish to the AHL season as the Bears push towards the Calder Cup Playoffs.