Braden Holtby is set to hit free agency and these five teams should have an interest in the former Vezina Trophy winner.
With the Washington Capitals second straight first round playoff exit comes questions about the future. The future of goaltender Braden Holtby, who is set to hit free agency, is among the biggest questions, perhaps only second to the future of head coach Todd Reirden. On Sunday, Reirden was fired.
Holtby was drafted by Washington in 2008, and he has spent his entire 10-year career in a Capitals’ sweater. He is a five-time All-Star, with a Vezina Trophy (2016) and a Stanley Cup (2018) in his resume. He has a 282-122-46 regular-season record, with 50 playoff wins.
But the 30-year old netminder (31 on Sept.16) is coming of the worst season of his career. In 48 regular-season games, he posted a .897 save percentage and 3.11 goals-against average. Ilya Samsonov showed himself as the heir apparent between the pipes for the Capitals, with a 16-6-2 regular-season record a .913 save percentage and 2.55 goals-against. But an injury in the ramp-up to the season restart cost him the playoffs and made Holtby the clear No. 1 guy again.
As the goaltender for the franchise’s first Stanley Cup win, Holtby will always have a special place in Capitals’ lore. But he acknowledged that he may have played his final game for the team after last Thursday night’s Game 5 loss to the New York Islanders.
“Certainly there’s a chance it is,” said the goaltender, whose team meekly exited the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-0 loss to the Islanders on Thursday night, as New York eliminated the Caps in five games. “But who knows? You live one day at a time.”
Holtby is virtually certain to continue his career elsewhere next season. These five teams should be at the front of the line with interest in him.
Who should pursue Braden Holtby in free agency?
5. Ottawa Senators
If not for the record-setting ineptitude of the Detroit Red Wings (39 points this season), the Senators would have narrowly had the lowest point (62) and win (25) totals in the NHL this year. But optimism says they could make a playoff push next season. With Craig Anderson also a looming unrestricted free agent, and retirement possible at 39 years old, Ottawa may end up with a significant experience void in goal.
Marcus Hogberg has 28 games and 25 starts on his NHL resume. Anders Nilsson is also in the mix, but lingering concussion symptoms have created doubt about him and it’s not as if he’s proven much anyway (3.07 career goals-against average).
Would Holtby take a one-year deal to be a stopgap in Ottawa? With a team that’s not near being a Cup contender? That will clearly depend on his other options, but GM Pierre Dorion should be building a contingency plan in case of Anderson’s departure or retirement.