USATSI_8565333_154158418_lowresThe arbitration process is almost always interesting, especially when it comes down to the differences between what teams think players are worth and what players think they’re worth.

In the case of the Washington Capitals and goalie Braden Holtby, there’s a big discrepancy.

Holtby is scheduled for arbitration on Thursday and is asking for $8 million a year. The Capitals are willing to go to $5.1 million a year, offering him a one-year contract worth that amount in the run-up to the hearing.

Prior to the latest offer, the Capitals were willing to pay about $5.5 million on a multi-year deal. Holtby rejected that, too. He wanted to get at least $6 million a year and now he’s obviously upped that asking price with the hearing around the corner.

Washington has roughly $10.3 million of cap space to go and they still have Marcus Johansson to sign, so ponying up $8 million might be a hard sell.

To put that price tag in perspective, Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers makes $8.5 million a year. The next highest paid goalie is Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky, with a $7.245 million annual rate.

Of course, this is all a part of the arbitration game. Asking for $8 million doesn’t mean Holtby gets $8 million, but it does represent a starting position and it does indicate a desire to go through the process rather than meet the Capitals in the middle on the negotiating field. While a deal could still wind up happening ahead of tomorrow’s hearing, it’s not likely.

So what the $8 million asking price represents is a sort of upper limit, the highest point negotiations could reach. In theory.

The truth about Holtby is that he’s put up great career numbers. He’s one of the best in the NHL from a numbers perspective and that will certainly bolster his case. He went 41-20-10 last season with a 2.22 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. He also had nine shutouts.

At 25 years of age, Holtby has played in 178 career regular season games and has 101 wins. His worst season came in the unsettled debacle that was the 2013-2014 Capitals season, with a .915 save percentage to show for himself. The rest of his career, such as it is, has been very good indeed.

From this point, though, it’s up to the arbitrator to determine just how good Holtby is.