The two sides went through the arbitration hearing as scheduled on Thursday, with Holtby presumably asking for the reported $8 million and the Capitals coming in at around the $5.1 million mark. Holtby obviously put the high figure in there to hope for something in between the two dollar amounts.
The arbitrator had until early Saturday afternoon to come up with a decision, but the Capitals and their goalie obviously put pen to paper before that could happen and ironed out this deal. It will pay Holtby the expected $3.5 million this season and a $3 million signing bonus, followed by $7 million in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. The last two years of the deal with pay Holtby $5 million a year.
“Braden emerged as a top NHL goaltender and we are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “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.”
Despite the urgings of some to the contrary, Holtby certainly has proven himself to be among the league’s elite netminders and securing him is a good move for the Capitals.
Holtby has the fourth highest save percentage between the regular season and post-season since 2010, with only Tuukka Rask, Cory Schneider and Henrik Lundqvist posting higher numbers. That’s some fine company.
He’s always been near the upper echelon of netminders, playing stellar hockey for his age. The only hiccup came in the 2013-2014 season, when the Adam Oates-coached Capitals were playing some less-than-great hockey. Even then, Holtby posted numbers above the league average and still managed to be great in five-on-five situations.
Some might undercut the quality of his numbers because Holtby hasn’t led the Capitals to the Promised Land just yet, but it pays to remember that he’s only 25. If he maintains his elite status while the club grows around him, Washington could be in for some good years to come in the post-season.
By locking in Holtby at this rate, the Capitals have a little more than $4 million in cap space to work with. That money will come in handy when it comes to signing RFA Marcus Johansson, which certainly has to be the next item on MacLellan’s to-do list.