Why Holtby signing could be the final piece of the Capitals Cup puzzle

Jared Clinton
Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals made a statement Friday afternoon with their signing of Braden Holtby to a five-year, $30.5 million deal: making the post-season and competing for the Stanley Cup is nice, but the Capitals are ready to fill their trophy case.

This off-season has already been a big one in Washington with the signing of 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams and the trade for American Olympic hero T.J. Oshie. However, the signing of Holtby, their star netminder and one of the top candidates for the Vezina Trophy in 2014-15, signifies something more. It signifies a commitment to nothing but the best at every position.

News had come earlier this week that Holtby, 25, was seeking somewhere in the range of $8 million on a one-year deal should he and the Capitals get to salary arbitration. It had even been reported that Washington was ready to proceed with the option of Holtby becoming a restricted free agent again next season. But with a $6.1 million annual cap hit for the next five seasons, GM Brian MacLellan locked up his starter long term, giving the Capitals the security in goal the team has been seeking since Olaf Kolzig left in 2008. Read more

Logan Couture’s off-season ‘really sucked,’ until…

Matt Larkin
Logan Couture. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2015 off-season hit Logan Couture like a punch in the face, because it began in April. It’s a horrible feeling to realize your season is over the day the regular season ends, and Couture, 26, never experienced it in his first five NHL seasons. His San Jose Sharks missed the post-season for the first time in his career this past spring, and he makes no effort to sugarcoat how much he hates that.

“It sucks. It really sucks.”

Couture resents the fact he hasn’t played competitive hockey since April 11 – a date he quotes, like he circled it on his calendar. He and the teammate he calls ‘Jumbo,’ fellow center Joe Thornton, felt a wave of frustration hit them earlier this summer when they realized they were used to playing hockey in May.

“We were golfing, and we both talked about how much this sucks, how we don’t want this to happen again,” Couture said. “It makes you hungrier and hungrier, and we’re ready to get an extra serving right now.”

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Red Wings’ Jurco says two-year deal close, report claims otherwise

Jared Clinton
Tomas Jurco (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings have only one big, outstanding free agent, and that’s restricted free agent Tomas Jurco. But when the 22-year-old told a Slovakian outlet he was on the verge of a two-year deal, that claim was disputed and it doesn’t appear a contract is as imminent as Jurco may believe.

According to MLive.com’s Brendan Savage, a source said that no two-year deal is close, partly because Jurco has just recently hired a new agent.

When asked by Hokejportal.net when he would be signing his new deal, a rough translation of Jurco’s answer said he believed he could wait until the end of the week for the new deal. He added that the new deal would be, “probably two years,” and that because of injury risk he was wary of signing a one-year contract. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Blueline buzz as free agency continues

Christian Ehrhoff (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets could add a veteran defenseman before the start of 2015-16. Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch reports sources claiming Jackets management have had discussions with free-agent blueliner Christian Ehrhoff, who’s coming off a one-year, $4-million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Portzline suggests a deal between the Blue Jackets and the 33-year-old Ehrhoff is possible, provided the latter remains on the free-agent market long enough to drive down his asking price. Despite missing 33 games last season due to head injuries, the puck-moving rearguard could help the Blue Jacket’s power play.

The Jackets only have around $3.6 million in cap space for 2015-16, which Portzline believes is why they’re willing to be patient in their dealings with Ehrhoff. He also notes several other defensemen, including Andrej Meszaros, Cody Franson and Marek Zidlicky are available, but hasn’t yet confirmed if the Jackets are interested in them. Read more

Cody Franson says he’s waiting on right fit, sick of one-year deals

Cody Franson. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

If you were wondering what has taken so long for defenseman Cody Franson to sign a new contract, you’re not alone. Franson himself seems to be getting impatient.

In an interview with TSN 1040 in Vancouver, Franson opened an interview with questions about his contract and when hosts Matt Sekeres and Jeff Paterson remark that they thought Franson would have a contract by now, the unrestricted free agent blueliner said they weren’t the only ones.

“You and me both,” remarked Franson. Read more

How much could Anze Kopitar’s new contract cost the Kings?

Jared Clinton
Anze Kopitar

Anze Kopitar could be one of the biggest free agents next season, but there’s just about zero chance the Los Angeles Kings let their star center get that far.

Jon Rosen of Los Angeles Kings Insider reported this past week that talks between Kopitar and the Kings are, “expected to pick up steam,” throughout July and a deal between the two sides could be in place before the 2015-16 season starts.

But what, exactly, would a new deal for Kopitar look like? For the past few months, one of the main concerns for the Kings has been finding the cap space to avoid a situation like that which the Chicago Blackhawks have gone through this past summer – having to ship out talented players from a winning team due to cap restrictions that make it impossible to retain everyone.

This upcoming season, the Kings have roughly $6 million in free space under the $71.4 million salary cap. Next season, when Kopitar’s new deal would kick in, the club has $50 million committed to the cap with Kopitar, Milan LucicJamie McBain and goaltender Jhonas Enroth as current players who would be unrestricted free agents next off-season. Paired along with the contract termination of Mike Richards, that likely gives the Kings the ability to have enough space to sign Kopitar, 28, long term at a significant raise. What that raise will be, though, is the question. Read more

Braden Holtby seeking $8 million per season through arbitration

Jared Clinton
Braden Holtby (Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is looking to take his career year and cash in big time.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Tuesday that Holtby, who is set for arbitration on July 23, is seeking $8 million per season on his new deal. Meanwhile, the Capitals are aiming for an average annual value of roughly $5.1 million. That’s quite the gap.

There’s no denying that Holtby, 25, is deserving of a significant raise over the $1.85 million he earned per season over his previous two-year deal, but to see his salary skyrocket to $8 million per year would be an astronomical raise, the likes of which is rarely seen in the NHL – especially for a goaltender. But in 2014-15, Holtby did post a record of 41-20-10 with nine shutouts, a 2.22 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. So, could Holtby actually get that raise? Statistically, at least, he might have a case to earn somewhere in the neighbourhood of $6.5 million. Read more