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Braden Holtby Files for Salary Arbitration

Braden Holtby Files for Salary Arbitration
Braden Holtby

Signing Braden Holtby to a new contract is proving to be a major test for new Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan.

Sunday was the deadline for players to file for salary arbitration in the NHL, and among the 23 players who filed was Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. Getting Holtby signed has been one of the biggest concerns for the Capitals this offseason.

Holtby, 25, had been making $1.85 million AAV on his previous contract and received a qualifying offer from the Capitsls. At the CBA-required 10 percent raise, that would have been an offer of $2.035 million, less than Jake Allen’s new deal.

The two sides have maintained that contract negotiations are ongoing and this development is unlikely to put an end to those. Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports that current offers are in the neighborhood of $5 million and up to five years.

In the vast majority of cases, players and teams reach deals before an arbitration hearing actually occurs. Filing is often used as a way to set a hard deadline for the  parties to reach a deal.

Should this case be different and the hearing take place, the player and the team will each present evidence to determine what the true fair value for the player is. This includes statistical and other evidence that show the player’s value to the team as well as the deals signed by “comparable players.”

Those comparables must be negotiated contracts signed by restricted free agents, theoretically those who play similar roles for their teams. There are very few such players for Holtby in the NHL. There are few 25-year old starting goaltenders in the league, much less those who post numbers similar to Holtby.

The closest recent comparable is Sergei Bobrovsky, who signed a two-year deal in 2013-14 with a $5.625 million AAV, and it would not be surprising to see a deal come in around $5.7 to $6 million for Holtby.

Should the parties come to an agreement outside the arbitration room, the deal can be up to eight years long. Arbitration is restricted to a one- or two-year deal. Because Holtby filed, the team selects the term, which is likely to be one year, as a two year deal would usher Holtby into his UFA years, which tend to be much more expensive.

Arbitration hearings will be scheduled between July 20 and August 4.



About The Author

Clare Austin

Clare Austin is a reluctant "stats nerd" living in Nashville, where she has never worn a cowboy hat or boots.


  1. Paul Ipolito

    “The closest recent comparable is Sergei Bobrovsky” Is that so? I missed Holtby winning the Vezina recently.

    • Clare Austin

      Yes, sarcasm aside, the closest comparable for Holtby is Bobrovksy. There are no other goalies in the past 10 seasons who put up anything like Holtby’s .921 while playing >150 games in their first 5 years and under age 26. Not even Carey Price.

      The only goalies who negotiated an RFA contract as a starter in recent years are Price, Bobrovksy, and Varlamov. All of those contracts have AAVs of $5.9 million or more and Holtby’s representatives can certainly make a case for him performing better than all of them at the same point in their career. The Capitals can make the case that the awards are relevant to Bob’s contract value, but Price signed his contract before winning any league awards.

      But Holtby’s comparables are few and far between. There just aren’t many starting goalies at that age, much less ones putting up those numbers.

      • Paul Ipolito

        Why risk arbitration at all? Holtby is in a class of one in the Caps organization and he could play 10 more years (Not that any modern goalie will ever see a 10-15 year career with the same team in this day and age). It strikes me as early in his career, but I guess the mantra now for goalies is “take the money and run”. I hope he gets an ex-goalie arbitrator.

    • Geoff Baker

      Clare, he has been underwhelming for the Capitals except for last season, which was very good. Check his playoff stats, he can’t handle the pressure. He is going for arbitration because they all want the millions before they are let go. Look at Jim Carey, the highest paid player to ever play in the minors. Big contract doesn’t mean that they will be stars in the league.