Heading into the season, it looked like it could very well be Braden Holtby’s final season with Washington. Ilya Samsonov, their goalie of the future, had arrived and with expansion looming, keeping both carried some risk. Nicklas Backstrom’s in-season extension further increased the likelihood of Holtby leaving and now the flattened salary cap has done the same. Despite that, the goaltender told reporters, including J.J. Regan of NBC Sports Washington, that he’s still holding out faint hope of a return:
My focus right now is to win a championship and moving forward, is to find the next best place to win a championship with. Hopefully, it is here. Hopefully, everything works out but you never know.
Holtby is coming off his worst statistical season of his career (.897 SV%, 3.11 GAA) which certainly doesn’t bolster his leverage heading into what looks to be a deflated market. However, with a handful of other teams on the lookout for starting goaltenders, he still should be able to land a good contract but unless he’s willing to take a sizable discount, it probably won’t be with the Capitals.
More from Washington:
- With Lars Eller planning to leave the team to be with his wife for the birth of their second child early next month, head coach Todd Reirden told Samantha Pell of The Washington Post that 2019 first-round pick Connor McMichael is among those being considered to fill that spot in the lineup. There would certainly be some risk to having McMichael make his NHL debut in a playoff situation (or during seeding games at a minimum) but the upside is certainly there. He had a dominant season in the OHL, recording 47 goals and 55 assists in just 52 games with London so he should be able to hold his own at the very least. If he does play, he’ll be subject to the usual games played threshold to not burn a year of his contract but by the time he gets to that tenth game, Eller should be back.
- Washington is one of the teams that really benefitted from the stoppage, suggests Matthew Paras of The Washington Times. The Capitals had lost 10 of 15 games before the pandemic arrived while the mini training camp also allows them to get Ilya Kovalchuk and Brendan Dillon integrated into the lineup, something they didn’t get much of a chance to do after both were brought in near the trade deadline.