Braden Holtby (Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
Washington Capitals netminder Braden Holtby is heading to arbitration on July 23 and is reportedly seeking a contract worth $8 million per season, which would make him the second-highest paid goaltender behind only Henrik Lundqvist. Holtby went 41-20-10 with nine shutouts, a 2.22 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 2014-15.
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.
Over the past two seasons, there have been 33 goaltenders to play at least 3,000 minutes of 5-on-5. Of those 33 netminders, Holtby ranks fifth in the league in 5-on-5 SP while facing the 10th highest shots against per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play. All this is to say Holtby is providing the quality – the SP – while facing a quantity of shots that should silence the naysayers who believe he’s been a product of the Washington system.
The goaltenders ahead of Holtby in 5-on-5 SP include Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Steve Mason and Cory Schneider. He ranks ahead of Henrik Lundqvist, Roberto Luongo and Sergei Bobrovsky. Mason, at $4.1 million per season, has the lowest salary of the seven netminders, with the three ahead of Holtby earning an average of $6.5 million per season.
That said, Price’s actual salary for the upcoming season in $7 million. Rask will earn $7.5 million in 2015-16. Schneider’s salary remains at $6 million for the duration of his contract. So what, then, is Holtby’s actual value? Is he worthy of being the second-highest paid goaltender in the league behind Lundqvist’s $8.5 million cap hit? Does he belong alongside Bobrovsky, who is earning an average of $7.425 million per campaign?
In all likelihood, Holtby won’t get his ask – which is to say Washington and Holtby will meet somewhere in the middle, probably on the high side. At 25, he’s got two more years of having his rights owned by the Capitals, so it’s possible the two sides come to an agreement that takes him to next season, with the onus on Holtby to prove to the Capitals he has earned his $8 million ask. According to the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, this could be the direction Holtby’s negotiations are heading. But that might not be the wisest idea.
On his side, Holtby has goaltending coach Mitch Korn, believed to be one of the best goaltending coaches in the league. Korn, while in Nashville alongside coach Barry Trotz, helped turn Pekka Rinne from an eighth-round, 258th overall draft pick into a goaltender who now earns $7 million annually as the highest paid player on the Predators roster. Korn is capable of giving Holtby the tools to repeat his 2014-15 campaign. If he does that, there’s no telling what next season’s request could be.
No matter what Holtby gets through arbitration, however, one thing is for certain: he’s about to get paid handsomely. And if he’s anywhere close to this past season’s numbers in 2015-16, that $8 million contract might become a reality.