According to The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta, Washington Capitals’ pending unrestricted free agent Braden Holtby will hit the open market on Friday, October 9.
Pagnotta heard that Holtby and his family “are now focused on battling for another championship with a new team next season.”
Pagnotta said that the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, and Colorado Avalanche are looking for No. 1 goalies and the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Edmonton Oilers are also looking for a goaltending change. Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom and Oilers goaltender Mike Smith are also set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of next week.
He stated that it is unclear what kind of contract the 31-year-old is looking for but Pagnotta said that a three-to-five-year contract that would carry a cap hit of $6 million per season could be in Holtby’s future.
Holtby is coming off of the worst season in his NHL career where he went 25-14-6 with an .897 save percentage and a 3.11 goals-against average, both career worsts. Though, he did improve toward the end as he concluded the regular season by going 6-4-2 with a .901 save percentage and a 3.08 goals-against average while starting 13 of the Capitals’ final 18 games. The Capitals’ 3.50 goals-against per game average during that span was the second-worst in the NHL (Canucks: 3.56).
Holtby went 2-5-1 with a .906 save percentage and a 2.49 goals-against average in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where the Capitals fell to the New York Islanders in five games of the first round.
After sitting out the first five periods of the team’s run to the Stanley Cup in 2018 to Philipp Grubauer, Holtby went 16-7 with a .923 save percentage, a 2.16 goals-against average, and two shutouts, including back-to-back whitewashes in Games 6 and 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. In 97 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Capitals, Holtby went 50-46 with a .926 save percentage, a 2.13 goals-against average, and seven shutouts.
He is the Capitals’ all-time leader in wins. Holtby went 282-122-46 with a .916 save percentage, a 2.53 goals-against average, and 35 shutouts in 468 career games with the Capitals. He won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender in 2016, when he tied Martin Brodeur’s wins in a single season (48) record), and was a finalist again in 2017.
Ilya Samsonov is expected to take the No. 1 job in Washington for the 2020-21 season. After a 15-2-1 start to his NHL career where he posted a .927 save percentage and a 2.06 goals-against average, the 22-year-old went 1-4-1 with an .873 save percentage and a 4.11 goals-against average after the All-Star break. He missed the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs after an ATV accident during the NHL Pause.
The Capitals could sign a veteran No. 2 or 1B goaltender to guide Samsonov during his first season as the team’s starter. The team could also clear cap space before free agency to re-sign defenseman Brenden Dillon, who can also become an unrestricted free agent on October 9.
By Harrison Brown