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6 reasons fans should not expect Braden Holtby to take a hometown discount on his next contract

6 reasons fans should not expect Braden Holtby to take a hometown discount on his next contract

One of the biggest stories of the Washington Capitals’ offseason is over a contract that does not even expire until 2020. Braden Holtby is entering the final year of his current deal and should be due a substantial raise...one the Caps will likely be unable to afford.

There are many Holtby fans out there who seem to think a hometown discount is all but guaranteed. He doesn’t care about money and he likes it in Washington so much he will be happy to take whatever the Caps can give him!

Holtby has made it clear in May that he would like to stay in Washington and he certainly could choose to take less than he is worth to help the team...slightly less. That is his prerogative, but there’s a limit. To think he is going to take a massive discount and leave several million dollars per year on the table seems unrealistic.

And there is nothing wrong with that. A professional hockey career is very short and players have to take advantage when they have the chance. Holtby has established himself as one of the top netminders in the NHL and there is nothing wrong with trying to cash in on that if that is what Holtby chooses to do.

If you are someone who believes “he has made enough money! He should be fine taking a minimum deal to stay with the team!” then this article is not for you. Enjoy your fantasy land where players do not care about getting paid for doing their jobs and feel free to check back in when the season starts and all the talk of money and contracts is over.

For the rest of you, here are six reasons why fans should not simply assume Holtby is going to be taking a massive hometown discount. with Washington.

Holtby took the Caps in arbitration in 2015

Think Holtby doesn’t care about his contract? Well, he did in 2015. He filed for arbitration when he and the team remained far apart in contract negotiations. The process went so far that Holtby and the team actually had his arbitration hearing before finally reaching an agreement before the arbitrator made his ruling.

Holtby had to scratch and claw to get a five-year contract worth $30.5 million for a $6.1 million cap hit. Since then, Holtby has won a Vezina Trophy, a William M. Jennings Trophy and a Stanley Cup.

But yeah, I'm sure he won't care what his next contract pays.

A really close comparable

Ultimately the market will dictate a player’s worth, but comparable contracts are a good way to estimate what a player can get paid. Sometimes it can be hard to find a perfect comparable, but that is not the case for Holtby.

Sergey Bobrovsky just signed a seven-year, $70 million contract in July with the Florida Panthers and it just so happens that he is the perfect comparable to Holtby.

Holtby will be 30 when his contract expires, the same age Bobrovsky is now. Here’s a look at how they compare statistically:

Bobrovsky: 2.46 GAA, .919 save percentage, 33 shutouts, two Vezina Trophies
Holtby: 2.47 GAA, .918 save percentage, 35 shutouts, one Vezina Trophy

That’s pretty close...until you look at their playoff numbers.

Bobrovsky: 11-18 record, 3.14 GAA, .902 save percentage, no shutouts
Holtby: 48-41 record, 2.09 GAA, .928 save percentage, seven shutouts, one Stanley Cup

If anything, Holtby is worth more than Bobrovsky. Convincing him to take several million dollars less per year than a goalie he directly compares to is going to be a really tough sell.

The NHLPA

We have talked a lot about Bobrovsky’s contract this summer because, as the top free-agent goalie available, he has set the market with his new deal. Holtby is one of the best goalies in the world and will arguably be the best goalie on the market in 2020. HIs deal will be what every other goalie is compared to. If he takes a massive discount, it will really hurt the negotiations of every other goalie in need of a new deal.

You want $7 million per year? That’s what Holtby got and he is a Vezina and Cup-winner. You’re not as good.

How Holtby’s new contract affects everyone else is arguably not his problem, but let’s assume that Holtby actually cares about other people. Taking a deal worth $6 or $7 million per year would significantly impact other free agent goalies. When you are part of a union and are messing with the future salaries of other players, you can at least expect to have a conversation with someone from the union over what accepting less will mean for other goalies around the league.

No no-movement

No-movement clauses were a big topic of conversation in 2017 when the NHL held an expansion draft for Vegas. Teams were obligated to protect players with no-movement clauses from the draft. This caused a panic among some general managers, but not the Caps. No one on the team had a no-movement clause so it was not an issue.

Fast-forward to 2019 and once again, no one on the roster has a no-movement clause. There are several players with no-trade clauses, but none with no-movement. It just does not seem to be something that the Caps give out.

When you add in the fact that the team’s top prospect, Ilya Samsonov, is a goalie, then it seems like there is virtually no shot that Holtby gets a no-movement clause.

Why does that matter?

Because there is another expansion draft in 2021. If Holtby is going to sign a long-term deal with a team, it would presumably be because he wants to stay with that team and in that city for the length of the contract. A starting caliber goalie like Holtby will certainly be an attractive candidate for Seattle in the net expansion draft, especially after seeing the success Marc-Andre Fleury has had in Vegas.

With Seattle looming and Samsonov in the organization, it is not unreasonable to think Holtby will want some sort of guarantee that if he signs in Washington, he will stay in Washington. Given their track record and the fact that Samsonov is considered the future of the team, however, Holtby is unlikely to get a no-movement clause with the Caps.

In a contract negotiation, everything affects the bottom-line. If Holtby wants a no-movement clause, and there is every reason to believe he would given the circumstances, if he doesn’t get one, that will have to translate to the Caps giving him more money. It’s a trade-off.

It is a lot to ask to expect Holtby to accept less money and no no-movement clause.

This will be his last big deal

Holtby will turn 30 in September. He is in his prime now, but he won’t be by the time this deal expires. This is going to be Holtby’s last time to cash-in and his value is never going to be this high again. Every year is going to push him further into his 30s making the last years of a long-term deal more of a question mark.

This is the time for Holtby to max out the money and the term. There’s no time for a “take a team-friendly deal now and we’ll totally take care of you on the next contract" type of deal.

Human nature

Whatever your job may be, no one likes to see someone else get paid more than you if you do a better job. It is human nature and a feeling we can all relate to. Just because Holtby’s new deal may include a few more zeros and commas than most people does not mean that human nature no longer applies.

You may think paying $10 million a year for a goalie is crazy. Yet, a 30-year-old goalie with similar stats and no Cup just got paid that and he also got a no-movement clause. Why would anyone assume Holtby would ask for less than that?

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Alex Ovechkin inches closer to 700 career goals

Alex Ovechkin inches closer to 700 career goals

WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin is flying up the NHL leader board. 

Doesn’t matter if you want to specify this season or his career overall, Ovechkin’s hat trick on Thursday night in a 5-2 win against the New Jersey Devils helped in both cases.

Start with the big names. Ovechkin now has 689 career goals. He is inching closer to the magic 700 mark. Only seven NHL players in history have reached it. Before then he will pass Mario Lemieux (690) – fittingly maybe on Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 3 when the Capitals play the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Then Steve Yzerman (692) and Mark Messier (694) are up next. These are incredible names, the greatest to ever play the sport. Ovechkin has etched his name into the record books with them all.

“[Lemieux was] one of my idols when I'm growing up,” Ovechkin said. “I get lucky I have a time to play against him, was on the ice with him a couple times. It's huge….They're legends. To be close to those guys, it's pretty impressive.”

Just looking at this season: Ovechkin is now at 31 goals. He needs 19 more in his 32 remaining games to reach 50 for a record-tying ninth time. For a time this season that appeared to be drifting away from Ovechkin. Now? Seems reasonable. Ovechkin will miss the Jan. 27 game against the Montreal Canadiens to serve a suspension for skipping the All-Star game in St. Louis next week. 

Ovechkin has pulled to within five goals of Boston’s David Pastrnak for the NHL lead (36) and is in third place overall. Toronto’s Auston Matthews is second (34). 

“It seems like every week at least that he’s breaking someone’s record,” Capitals teammate John Carlson said. “And they’re not cupcake records, either. I’ve said this before. I don’t think that as a teammate you realize what’s happening. It kind of becomes maybe a little more normal than if you’re in a different job or on a different team even.”

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Alex Ovechkin gets mad, Carl Hagelin gets a goal and Richard Panik gets comfortable

Alex Ovechkin gets mad, Carl Hagelin gets a goal and Richard Panik gets comfortable

Alex Ovechkin let everyone know what happens when you make him mad on Thursday as he returned from a high stick to score the 25th hat trick of his career in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.

Check out a recap of the game here.

Observations from the win

You mad, bro?

When Miles Wood hit Ovechkin with the high stick, you knew he was pissed. Before he even got off the ice he was yelling at the Devils' bench. He went to the locker room and returned to the ice in the same period to score twice.

After the game, Ovechkin said he did not think it was intentional, but yeah, he was mad.

"I don't think he meant to do it, and the ref didn't see it, but yeah I was little mad and I just punish them."

The third line has finally found its role

The third line is not going to produce as much offensively as the team hoped, but Todd Reirden has found a role for this line as the shutdown line. It was integral in the team's win over Carolina on Monday as they lined up against the Hurricanes' second line. Reirden again used them primarily against New Jersey's second line on Thursday. Carl Hagelin even scored his second goal of the season with assists from Lars Eller and Richard Panik.

"It feels finally how it was supposed to feel at the beginning," Panik said.

The challenge now will be how Reirden can get the matchups he wants when he is on the road which is tougher to do as road teams have to change lines first.

The power play is still an issue

Ovechkin scored on a two-man advantage, but once again the Caps gave up another shorthanded goal. Blake Coleman scored on a breakaway in the third period to pull New Jersey to within one in what could have been a major turning point in the game. That was the third shorthanded goal the team has allowed in four games and the fifth shorthanded goal allowed in the last 11.

That is a horrifying stat.

"Yeah that's definitely something that needs to be solved," Reirden said. "That's not acceptable, that's not winning hockey, it's not a winning formula. I think obviously they score a big 5-on-3 goal after struggling the last couple games 5-on-3, but in that situation with the lead, you can't give up shorthanded goals. So that has to continue to be worked on as we go on here."

Turning point

Don't make Ovechkin angry. He took a nasty high-stick from Wood and returned in the same period to score twice. That gave Washington the 2-0 lead and set the tone for the entire game.

You can read the full story about Ovechkin's crazy first period here.

Play of the game

The play of the game is Ovechkin's hat trick goal, but not because of Ovechkin. Really, it was the pass by Tom Wilson that was so impressive.

Whenever someone says Wilson is just a goon, this is the clip you should show them.

Stat of the game

These are going to be a bit Ovechkin heavy, but there were a number of milestones the Great 8 hit in this one.

Quote of the game

It's hard to top Ovechkin's quote about punishing the Devils. This one from Nicklas Backstrom, however, is a close second:

I could just tell when he got that high stick in the first there and then he got pissed off and he always plays better when he’s a little pissed off. So, there you go. That was drawn up like that, I think. So, came back, got a little mad, scored two and then I was just waiting for the third. That’s the story of Ovi, I think.

Fan predictions

No goal for Nick Jensen, but you nailed the score.

...and second.

He came pretty close.

The cow was spotted. He is always pretty easy to spot, but even if you have trouble, the crowd usually can steer you in the right direction.

See what I did there?

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