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Capitals Give Holtby $30.5-Million Over Five Seasons

Capitals Give Holtby $30.5-Million Over Five Seasons
Braden Holtby signed a new five-year contract with the Washington Capitals one day after an arbitration hearing. (InGoal photo by Scott Slingsby, All Rights Reserved)

Braden Holtby signed a new five-year contract with the Washington Capitals one day after an arbitration hearing. (InGoal photo by Scott Slingsby, All Rights Reserved)

After squaring off in an arbitration case one day earlier, Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals managed to split the difference in their long-term contract demands and agree to a new five-year deal worth $30.5 million.

While Holtby asked the arbitrator for $8-million next season and the Capitals countered at $5.1-million for one season, the new deal is almost right in the middle of the gap between the two sides while negotiating a long-term deal.

Sources with knowledge of the negotiations indicated the Capitals were offering $5.5 million per season, while Holtby was seeking $6.5. The new contract averages $6.1 million per season.

According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada, Holtby will earn $6.4-million this season, including a $3-million signing bonus and $3.5-million salary, then $7-million the next two seasons, and $5-million in each of the final two seasons.

“Braden emerged as a top NHL goaltender and we are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a team release. “We feel Braden is just entering his prime and in his young career has already established himself as one of the best goaltenders in the history of our franchise. He is an athletic goaltender with a tremendous work ethic and is a big part of our future.”

In his first season with new goaltending coach Mitch Korn and behind the goalie-friendly system of new coach Barry Trotz, Holtby tied the franchise records with 73 games played, 41 wins and nine shutouts, while also finishing fourth in Vezina Trophy voting. The athletic 6-foot-2 goaltender was first in the NHL in ice time (4,247), games played and saves (1,887), tied for second in shutouts and wins, and tied for seventh in save percentage (.923).  And Holtby, who is only 25 years old, led the playoffs with a .944 save percentage despite being eliminated in the second round by Lundqvist’s New York Rangers.

Looking at the list of the top-15 salary cap costs for goaltenders next season below (numbers courtesy of General Fanager), Holtby will have the sixth highest salary cap cost, sitting right between Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes and Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils. Holtby’s new salary doesn’t seem out of whack, especially since the contract includes three years of potential unrestricted free agency:

As for where Holtby fits into that list of goalies, be sure to read InGoal’s breakdown of whether Holtby qualifies for “elite” status in the NHL by Clare Austin, but there’s little doubt he’s one of the best young goalies in the game.

Holtby is the fastest Capitals goalies to reach the 100-win plateau, earning the mark in 176 games, which is tied for third among active goaltenders, trailing only Jimmy Howard (171) and Antti Niemi (174). He is also the fifth-youngest (25) to reach 100 wins among active goalies, behind Carey Price, Marc-Andre Fleury, Steve Mason and Cam Ward. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Holtby is second shutouts (17), trailing Price (18).

If Holtby continues to trend up under the guidance of Korn and defensive structure of Trotz, there’s a good chance his new contract will seem like a huge bargain by the time it expires, if not a lot sooner.

 

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.