Right now the Washington Capitals and their goaltender Braden Holtby are at a contract stalemate. The restricted free agent goalie is set to go to arbitration tomorrow where he’s asking for an $8 million contract. The Capitals are offering $5.1 million. You could say there’s a bit of a difference there and something will obviously have to give.
When you look at the stats Holtby led all goaltenders with a ridiculous 73 games played. That is an absolute monster workload in a league where the teams are separated by just a few points and the race for the playoffs is often air tight. Yet he weathered the pressure and performed great. He led the league in shots against, 2nd in wins (41), 2nd in shutouts (9), 5th in goals against (2.22) and 7th in save percentage (.923). He also has goalie coach and all-around guru Mitch Korn working with him on a daily basis helping him perform at a high level night after night. Simply put, he is the real deal.
So does he deserve the cash? In my opinion, absolutely. But does he deserve the $8 million he wants? That’s probably a stretch. However, the NHL goaltenders who are the $6 million range (Ryan Miller at $6M, Ben Bishop at $5.9M, Kari Lehtonen $5.9M, Cam Ward at $6.3M, and Corey Schneider at $6M) can easily be argued are not as good as Braden Holtby. Holtby was outstanding last season and had the Washington Capitals an overtime goal away from the Eastern Conference Finals.
I think this thing will settle somewhere in the middle of Holtby’s request and the Capitals offer. If I were general manager of the Capitals for a day I would pay him more than the goalies listed above and I imagine that by Friday Holtby we’ll see a deal somewhere in the $6.5 million to $6.7 million range. Maybe he’ll have to settle for less than that but I don’t think he should. I know in this “all that matters are the rings” world we live in now he hasn’t won anything yet but if you look around the league there are plenty of teams searching, practically dying, for a legitimate #1 day-to-day starting goalie. Outside of Boston, Montreal, New York Rangers, Chicago, Nashville, Columbus and Los Angeles nearly all of the other 20+ NHL teams would take Holtby in a heartbeat at $6.5 million. I feel in his young career he’s already earned the right to be paid amongst some of the top-flight NHL starting goalies.