While the Seattle expansion process is still two and a half years away, there are already some interesting decisions presenting themselves for teams to deal with when the time comes. NBC Sports Washington’s J.J. Regan takes a look at the one for the Capitals which involves their goaltending. The situation appears to be parallel to the one Pittsburgh faced back in 2017.
Starter Braden Holtby’s contract is up in 2020 but it’s believed they’ll want to keep him around to mentor youngster Ilya Samsonov who will also require protection. However, will Holtby be willing to re-sign if he feels the Capitals will leave him unprotected a year later if they prefer to keep their presumed starter of the future in Samsonov? Would Washington commit to a no-move clause to keep Holtby around? While we’re still a long way away from Seattle’s team being formed, Holtby can sign an extension as early as this July so it’s going to be a question on the front burner for GM Brian MacLellan fairly soon.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference:
- While he was transferred to injured reserve on Saturday, Sabres winger Jason Pominville appears to be close to returning from his upper-body injury. Head coach Phil Housley told Bill Hoppe of the Times Herald that the veteran skated on Saturday and is getting close to returning. Buffalo was eligible to back-date his IR placement to December 19th which means he’ll have missed the requisite seven days in advance of their next game on Thursday. Pominville is having a nice bounce-back season after a quiet 2017-18; he has nine goals and nine assists through 33 games so far.
- Although there’s no official word yet on the severity of Islanders winger Cal Clutterbuck’s lower-body injury that he sustained on Sunday, head coach Barry Trotz told reporters, including Newsday’s Andrew Gross (Twitter link) that the issue is “nothing major” and is possibly a strain. The rugged veteran is once again a physical presence up front for New York, averaging just over 2.65 hits per game while logging a little more than 13 minutes a night of playing time. If he’s not available to suit up on Friday, the Isles won’t need to recall someone from AHL Bridgeport as they have wingers Tom Kuhnhackl and Ross Johnston on the roster as extras already.