2007-08: Philipp Grubauer appeared in five games for Rosenheim’s senior team in the German third division and played 23 games for Rosenheim’s U-18 team. He posted a 2.73 GAA with the senior club and a 3.12 GAA with the U-18 team. Grubauer started 4 of 6 games for fifth-place Germany at the WJC U-18 tournament and was 2-2 with a 17-save shutout over Denmark and a 4.16 GAA and .877 save percentage. Grubauer was selected in the first round (25th overall) of the 2008 CHL Import Draft by the OHL’s Belleville Bulls.
2008-09: Grubauer played his first season in North America with Belleville as a back-up to Mike Murphy (CAR). He played in 17 games for the Bulls and was 7-8 with a 3.93 GAA and .888 save percentage. Grubauer made his OHL debut and was named the game’s first star after stopping 36 of 38 shots in a win over Peterborough on September 20. He had three straight wins in January, relieving Murphy and stopping 23 of 25 shots in a come-from-behind win over Kingston on January 16 and then defeating Sault Ste. Marie and Ottawa in his next two starts. Grubauer appeared in one playoff game for the Bulls and stopped 37 of 41 shots in relief of Murphy in a season-ending 7-2 loss to Brampton. Grubauer represented Germany as a backup to Timo Pielmeier (SJ) at the WJC U-20 tournament but neither goalie had much success for the over-matched German team that was relegated to Division 1 following the tournament. He finished with a 6.61 GAA and .838 save percentage in three games.
2009-10: Grubauer opened the season with Belleville before a mid-season trade to Memorial Cup-bound Windsor in January. He was 10-14 with 5 overtime losses and had a a 3.14 GAA and .913 save percentage in 31 games with Belleville. Grubauer played in 19 games during the regular season for Windsor following the trade and then saw the majority of action as the Spitfires captured the OHL and Memorial Cup championships in the post-season. Grubauer was named OHL Goaltender of the Month in January after going 6-0 with one shootout loss for the Spitfires. He finished the regular season 13-1 with 2 overtime losses and registered a 2.37 GAA and .906 save percentage. In the OHL playoffs, Grubauer was 18-2 with 2 shutouts and posted a 2.69 GAA and .909 save percentage. In four Memorial Cup games, he was 4-0 with a 2.14 GAA and .930 save percentage as Windsor captured its second straight title. Grubauer was 5-0 for Germany in the WJC U-20 Division 1B tournament as his team attained a promotion to the top pool for the 2011 championship. Central Scouting rated Grubauer ninth among North American goaltenders in the 2010 NHL Draft.
2010-11: Grubauer went from the defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires to middle-of-the-pack Kingston in a September OHL trade and split the goaltending duties with 17-year-old Frank Palazzesse. In 38 games with the Frontenacs he had a 22-13 record with 2 shutouts and a 3.62 GAA and .903 save percentage. Grubauer missed the playoffs for Kingston, returning to Germany due to a case of mononucleosis. Grubauer played in four games for Germany at the 2011 U20 Junior World Championship. He was 0-4 with a 4.44 GAA and .888 save percentage on a German team that finished last in the ten-team tournament.
2011-12: Grubauer was impressive in his first pro season; handling the bulk of the goaltending chores for Washington’s ECHL affiliate South Carolina. He appeared in 43 games for the Stingrays and was 23-18 with five losses coming in overtime or shootouts. He had 1 shutout while posting a 2.22 goals against and .918 save percentage. South Carolina reached the second round in the playoffs after finishing fourth in the South Division. Grubauer missed the playoffs after suffering a late season hand injury.
2012-13: Grubauer appeared in two games for the Capitals in his second season and showed promise while playing for the Capitals’ affiliates in Hershey (AHL) and Reading (ECHL). Grubauer made his first NHL appearance in relief on February 27th, stopping all 14 shots he faced in 25 minutes of action against the Flyers. He made his only NHL start on March 9th and stopped 40 of 45 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Islanders. Grubauer played one game with Hershey before being sent to Reading during the NHL lockout and returned to the Bears in January. In 28 AHL games he was 15-9-2 with 2 shutouts and had a 2.25 goals against and .919 save percentage. Grubauer started all five games in the playoff series with Providence and was 3-2 with a 3.79 goals against and .901 save percentage. He was 19-5-1 in 26 games with Reading and had a 2.30 goals against and .912 save percentage; being selected for the ECHL All-Star Game.
2013-14: Grubauer appeared in 16 mid-season games for the Capitals and made one cameo in March — spending most of the season with Washington AHL affiliate Hershey in his third pro season. He was 6-5-5 with a 2.38 goals against and .925 save percentage in 17 games for the Capitals. Grubauer shared the goaltending duties for Hershey with AHL veteran David Leggio. In 28 regular season games with the Bears he was 13-13-2 with three shutouts and had a 2.60 goals against and .916 save percentage. Hershey finished fourth in the East Division, two points behind Norfolk for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
At 6’1 and 185 pounds, Grubauer plays bigger than his size in net. He has a strong ability to fill the net, though he is still susceptible to high shots. His true strength comes in his positioning and his demeanor; he is calm and collected at all times, rarely seeming rattled. Though he is not the most athletic goaltender in the Capitals’ ranks, he shows quick legs and a strong glove hand. Graubauer is not the kind of goaltender who makes the highlight reel, but he can be as solid as they come.
Now appears to be the time for Grubauer to make his move towards an NHL roster spot. Having performed well over the last several seasons for Hershey of the AHL, he should be ready to capture the backup role behind starter Braden Holtby for the 2015-16 season. With Holtby locked into the starting job and several high-quality prospects waiting in the wings, Grubauer’s chance to become a starting goaltender might be outside of Washington. He has the potential to become a solid NHL starter, but opportunity will be a bigger obstacle than performance.