According to The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta, the Washington Capitals are among five teams linked to Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby. The Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, Seattle Kraken, and Boston Bruins are also reportedly linked to the 31-year-old goaltender.
“The Canucks are looking to move Holtby, who has one-year left on his contract. Teams are asking the Canucks to retain part of his remaining contract, which may be a hold up, but talks are ongoing. Holtby, has a four-team no-trade list, would be open to a change of scenery after a tough season in Vancouver,” Pagnotta wrote in his latest Summer Trade Watch piece.
This comes after the Capitals lost goaltender Vitek Vanecek to the Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
The 31-year-old carries a $4.3 million cap hit through next season before he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. Holtby is coming off of the two worst seasons of his career. He played just 21 games last season, finishing with a career-worst 7-11-3 record, .889 save percentage, and a 3.67 goals-against average. Holtby set career-worsts in each category in his final season with the Capitals in 2019-20, where he went 25-14-6 with an .897 save percentage and a 3.11 goals-against average.
Holtby’s contract contains a four-team no-trade clause.
In 489 career NHL games with the Capitals and Canucks, Holtby, who ranks second among the Capitals’ all-time wins leaders, has gone 289-133-49 with a .915 save percentage, a 2.58 goals-against average, and 35 shutouts. He has gone 50-46-1 with a .926 save percentage, a 2.13 goals-against average, and seven shutouts in 97 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Capitals, who drafted Holtby 93rd overall in 2008.
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.
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.
The Capitals currently have $11,302,073 remaining in cap space with left-wing Alex Ovechkin (unrestricted free agent), goaltender Ilya Samsonov (restricted free agent), defenseman Zdeno Chara (UFA), and left-wing Michael Raffl (UFA) in need of new contracts. Though, trading center Evgeny Kuznetsov (which seems likely), who carries a $7.8 million cap hit, will free up even more money. Perhaps, it would make sense if the Canucks were willing to retain some of his cap hit. The max they could is $2.15 million.
Samsonov was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 list twice last season, so perhaps the Capitals are looking at Holtby as a reliable backup so the team does not have to force a young goaltender to play for long periods of time if Samsonov were to miss any.
Kuznetsov was linked to the Kraken Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks, Florida Panthers, and Montreal Canadiens by Pagnotta.
By Harrison Brown