Philipp Grubauer’s off-season will wait a little longer.
The 30-year-old goaltender, finishing his eighth full National Hockey League season, said on Monday he will compete for Germany at the upcoming 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, starting May 13 in Finland.
“Season continues a little bit for me,” said Grubauer.
At Kraken Community Iceplex during exit interviews, the Rosenheim native reportedly will depart Wednesday for Germany to join the squad for practices and the final exhibition game on Sunday, prior to travel into Finland.
Finishing their expansion season at eighth in the Pacific Division, the Kraken missed the playoffs with a 27-49-6 record, Grubauer’s first time on the Stanley Cup Playoff sidelines in his NHL career.
Grubauer told 933kjr.com that the chance to compete after the conclusion of the NHL regular season fills a void of missing the postseason.
“I see this as playoffs basically, also it’s a huge honor to represent Germany,” said Grubauer. “You don’t get the chance too many times to put that jersey on to represent your country. I’ve made it to the playoffs every year.”
“I want to make sure I can get over there; we have young guys on the team, so I want to support them and bring a certain experience in from my time in the NHL and in the playoffs.”
Grubauer said missing two Olympics amplified a thirst for international competition, with his services becoming available.
“A hockey career is so short, so who knows how many times I’ll get a chance to do that.”
Grubauer though has defied any threats of a shortened career, competing in a career-high 55 games this season after signing a six-year, $35 million contract as a free agent last July. A part of the Washington Capitals squad that won the Stanley Cup four years ago, he is 32 games shy of reaching 300 in his NHL career, completing his second straight season as a netminder shouldering the bulk of a goaltending workload.
Following the stretch of competition in Finland, the focus will turn to next season, with Grubauer on the path to put a year where he went 18-31-5 with an .889 save percentage on an expansion year behind him – with a focus on staying as “young” as possible.
Maintaining a limber and supple body that can last the whole season, he said, is top priority.
“I’m not getting younger, so I want to stay on top of that,” said Grubauer. “Younger guys are coming and they’re getting faster, so I want to make sure I’m staying on top of my game and be the best version of myself.”