On Thursday, the Nashville Predators announced they had signed goalie Tomáš Vomáčka to a two-year, entry-level contract. The 2017 fifth-round pick will join the organization next season after recovering from a torn meniscus suffered during his final year at the University of Connecticut (UConn).
I broke down what the organization has seen from Vomáčka in the last four seasons and what his NHL potential looks like.
By The Numbers
At the start of his time at UConn, Vomáčka was a backup to New York Rangers prospect Adam Huska, but impressed with a 0.922 save percentage in 15 appearances. With Huska leaving for the professional ranks, Vomáčka played in 33 of 34 games for the Huskies during his sophomore season. Despite turning in just a 0.898 save percentage, the Czech goalie was peppered, facing 30.7 shots per night, including ten 30+ save performances and three 40+ save performances. That year, he saved 3.37 goals above average (GSAA).
This past season, Vomáčka started all 23 games for the Huskies and recorded a 0.909 save percentage while facing 31.5 shots per night.
In seven games I tracked this season, Vomáčka unsurprisingly excelled with low-danger shots, stopping 100% of them. He did stop just 90.9% of the 55 medium-danger shots he faced and 79.7% of the 59 high-danger shots he faced (sometimes due to his erratic playing style). Vomáčka’s GSAA dropped to -3.48 this season.
The Scouting Tape
Vomáčka has long relied on his athleticism to help his game stand out. He’s aggressive in his goaltending, challenges opponents around his crease often, and fights to stop everything thrown his way.
In this clip above, Vomáčka demonstrates his reliance on a Reverse Vertical Horizontal (RVH) position to cover his crease post-to-post. At 6’3”, he fills the net well even in his butterfly positions.
As mentioned above, Vomáčka is aggressive in challenging opponents. Notice above how far out of his crease he comes to challenge the Maine player on a breakaway, forcing the skater into a deke. His stance lets him suffocate the puck as he’s mitigated almost all scoring chances at ice level.
The Czech goalie’s cross-crease movements are often fluid and quick, but he can have trouble adjusting his angles at times. In the clip above, as the puck is passed across the slot, Vomáčka pushes quickly to the other side and gets square to the shooter, but his angle between the shooter and the net is still slightly off. The shooter capitalizes and scores through the five-hole.
In this sequence, Vomáčka challenges shooters high in his crease and effectively swats away a rebound he fails to control. Before stopping shot two from the point, he even gives the net-front opponent a hook at his ankles (antics like these are semi-frequent with Vomáčka in the net). Finally, while his movements may come off clunky at times, Vomáčka’s athleticism can erase any poor reaction times as he stretches, then launches, across the crease for a big save.
This year, I did pick up some concerns with his glove side, which was beaten on a handful of occasions (above and below).
The brilliance of Tomáš Vomáčka, however, is that during his time at UConn, he would pull off some showstopping save almost weekly:
Ultimately, Vomáčka has achieved everything he likely could at the college level, but the pros will be a real test for his mechanics. I think there are still some things in his game Nashville plans to tune up, and I don’t think he has the potential of an NHL starter, but with his natural ability, there’s a solid depth goalie to be developed here.
Vomáčka’s entry-level contract is for two years and begins with the 2021-22 season. He’ll carry a cap hit of $810,000 each season and earn a $60,000 salary per year in the minors. The contract includes a $120,000 signing bonus paid out equally over both seasons.
Upon expiry, he’ll be a restricted free agent.