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Arbitration numbers set for Holtby vs. Capitals


Arbitration numbers set for Holtby vs. Capitals

Two days before goaltender Braden Holtby and the Capitals are scheduled to go to arbitration, their asking prices have been set it. According to CBC Sports’ Tim Wharnsby, Holtby is seeking an annual award of $8 million, while the Capitals are seeking an annual award of $5.1 million.

Holtby’s agent, David Kaye, did not immediately return a message left for him on Tuesday.

If the two sides can come to an agreement somewhere in the middle they’ll avoid arbitration, which is scheduled for Thursday in Toronto. But the Caps aren’t likely to agree to a $7 million annual salary for their 25-year-old goalie, which means an arbitrator likely will decide how much Holtby will make for the next one or two seasons.

Because Holtby filed for arbitration the Capitals can decide on an award of one year or two years. If the Caps decide on a one-year award, they will be right back where they are next summer, with Holtby retaining his status as a restricted free agent. If the Caps decide on a two-year award, Holtby would become an unrestricted free agent at the age of 27 at the end of that term.

With that in mind, the Caps might choose a one-year arbitration award, presumably with the hope of getting Holtby at a lower cap hit for one season. That way, if Holtby proves he deserves a long-term deal, his reward would come next summer. 

It should be noted that the $8 million Holtby is seeking in arbitration, and the $5.1 million the Capitals are proposing to an arbitrator are not necessarily the numbers that have been used in their negotiations. Players always shoot high and teams always shoot low with their arbitration numbers.

The Capitals’ offer to Holtby, which general manager Brian MacLellan described as “huge” in terms of overall dollars and “competitive” with other NHL goalies, likely was in the five-year, $28 million range, putting his average salary at around $5.6 million.

However, if Holtby was willing to agree to a five-year deal, he likely set the bar closer to $34 million, putting his cap hit in the $6.8 million range.

By going to arbitration, Holtby would be sacrificing long-term security for a chance at a bigger payday in two years. He addressed that topic on breakup day following the Caps’ second-round elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“Job security is something that doesn’t come around very often in this profession,” Holtby said, “so if you can find some it’s great.

“If you don’t have any ties it’s a lot different. But with family [he has two children] you’d like to stay and get to know the community and get involved. So the longer term the better.

“But at the same time, I expect if it’s a one-year deal I want to earn it for the next year. If it’s longer term I want to earn every single year of it. I’m just happy to be here and happy to be a part moving forward.”  

Clearly, Holtby’s asking price through arbitration suggests he believes he should be one of the highest-paid goalies in the NHL. The current list of highest-paid goalies (with cap hits) reads like this, via

Henrik Lundqvist $8.5 million

Sergei Bobrovsky  $7.425 million

Tuukka Rask $7 million

Pekka Rinne $7 million

Carey Price $6.5 million

Cam Ward $6.3 million

Cory Schneider $6 million

Ryan Miller $6 million

Cory Crawford $6 million

Aside from Schneider and Rinne, every goalie who is making $6 million or more has won a Vezina Trophy (Lundqvist, Bobrovsky, Rask, Price, Miller) or a Stanley Cup (Rask, Ward, Crawford).

Holtby, who earned $2 million last season, finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting last season, matching franchise records in games played (73) and wins (41). Among goalies with 50 or more starts last season, he finished fourth in goals-against average (2.22), seventh in save percentage (.923) and tied for second in shutouts (9).

MORE CAPITALS: Backstrom aiming for season opener

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

USA Today Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.

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3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia


3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia

Playing three games in four days takes a toll on even the fittest athletes, and it was their sluggish start that doomed the Capitals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

After being noncomittal about his starting goalie all weekend, Coach Barry Trotz put Philipp Grubauer in net. Grubauer ended up making 29 saves on 34 shots. Offensively, the Caps got goals from Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, and John Carlson. Carlson's third period goal cut the Flyers' lead to two with a little over three minutes to go, but a Jakub Voracek empty-netter a few moments later was the nail in the coffin. 

Here are your three stars from the game: 

1. Travis Boyd had the play of the game for the Capitals. Boyd carried the puck into the Flyer's zone, cut through multiple defenders and fired a slick shot to a streaking Ovechkin, who burried the puck in the back of the net. Check it out: 

Not only was the play nice on its own, but it was Boyd's first NHL point. Not a bad way to get it. 

2. Shayne Gostisbehere​ got the Flyers going with his goal in the first period. The defenseman had one goal on five shots along with being an intimidating force in the defensive zone. After going six weeks without scoring, today's goal was Gostisbehere's second goal in three games. 

3. Wayne Simmonds was the best offensive player on the ice on Sunday, scoring twice - both in the final period. It was the 22nd and 23rd goals of the season for the 29-year-old winger. It was also the first multi-goal game for Simmonds since Opening Night, when he had two against San Jose. 

The Caps hit the ice next on Tuesday, when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Capital One Center.