The World Cup of Hockey will be played this summer and you can expect the Caps to be well represented considering they are currently the best team in the NHL. One of the most competitive rosters will no doubt be Team Canada. The list of of superstar players who don't make this team could make a more formidable roster than several other teams in the tournament.
You know about the Capitals' Russian superstars, but they also boast one of the best goaltenders in the NHL who happens to call Canada home.
Braden Holtby, from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan has put together a Vezina-caliber season and will certainly be in the running for make the World Cup roster. What are his chances? Pretty darn good according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun.
In a roster projection for Team Canada, LeBrun puts Holtby among the three goalies to make the team, but not as the starter with a projected depth chart of Montreal's Carey Price as No. 1, Holtby as the backup and Chicago's Corey Crawford as the No. 3.
We'll come back to Holtby, but let's first take note of the goalies not on this list. Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury and Devan Dubnyk are three goalies with a legitimate resume to make the roster who LeBrun says will come up short. This just goes to show you how stacked the Canadian team is when a goalie playing as well as Luongo is right now could end up on the outside looking in.
Luongo has a .928 save percentage this season and is a major factor in how well the Florida Panthers are playing. Despite how poorly Pittsburgh started the season, Marc-Andre Fleury has been consistently great throughout. While the Minnesota Wild have hit a rough patch, consider where that team would be without Dubnyk, the runner up for the Vezina Trophy in 2015.
Still, it's hard to argue with LeBrun's list. Don't be fooled by the fact that Crawford was not invited to the All-Star game this season. Had the game been played in any city other than Nashville, Crawford would have been in over Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. Crawford continues to battle this misconception that he is not an important factor in Chicago's success and he continues to be overshadowed by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Make no mistake, Crawford is fantastic and he is having the best season of his career.
Holtby, of course, has been the best goalie in the NHL this season and if the season ended today, he would be the near unanimous choice to win the Vezina. So why would he be No. 2 to a goalie who has played in just 12 games this season?
It's been a tough year for Price, but considering what he did last season, he has earned the benefit of the doubt.
Price not only won the Vezina for the 2014-15 season, he also won the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP, the first goalie to do so since Jose Theodore did it in 2002. His season numbers were unreal as he posted 44 wins with a .933 save percentage and 1.96 goals against average.
To compare, Holtby currently has a .928 save percentage and 2.08 GAA in what has thus for been an unquestionably tremendous season.
If you're still not convinced, just take a look at what Montreal is doing without him. Last season, Montreal won the Atlantic Division with 110 points in the regular season. As of now, the Canadiens sit three points out of a wildcard spot.
Holtby is arguably the best goalie in the NHL right now. When healthy, Price is the undisputed best goalie in the world.
But f you're a Caps fan, would it really be a bad thing for Holtby to be second to Price? Do you even want Holtby playing in the World Cup?
Holtby has established himself as a workhorse for the Caps. He played in 73 games in the 2014-15 season and, even with a more dependable backup in Philipp Grubauer this season, He has already appeared in 43 of the Caps' 52 games. Add in what should be a long playoff run and you're talking about a whole lot of games for the team's star netminder.
Maybe spending a preseason tournament on the bench behind Price wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for Holtby.
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