Former Capitals goalie and franchise icon Braden Holtby is reportedly headed to the free-agent market once again. The news was first reported by The Athletic in Vancouver.
After just one year in Vancouver, where he posted an .889 save percentage in 21 games, Holtby was bought out before the second year of an $8.6 million deal that was set to cost $4.3 million against the cap in the 2021-22 season.
Holtby was the franchise backstop for the Capitals for nearly a decade before leaving as a free agent after the 2019-20 season. He played 468 games for the Capitals with a .916 save percentage and helped lead the team to its first ever Stanley Cup in 2018.
His buyout will cost $3.8 million over the next two seasons, meaning he could sign with a team at a lower rate than if he wasn’t just bought out and still make the same money. The Capitals moved on last season with Ilya Samsonov and they signed veteran Henrik Lundqvist, who never played for the team due to a heart condition.
Last Saturday, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said that the team would explore both internal and external candidates to fill the team’s second goaltender spot to go alongside Samsonov. Now, it would appear they’ll consider Holtby once again.
The internal candidates are Pheonix Copley and Zach Fucale, both of whom spent the last season in the minor leagues with AHL Hershey. And as for veteran options, Holtby is clearly the most intriguing of the bunch due to his history in Washington.
“I think we had two guys that played really well in Hershey that we might take a look at to start the year -- or depending on what happens in free agency and the cost of a veteran backup we could explore that, too,” MacLellan said.
Martin Jones, another veteran goaltender, was bought out by the Sharks, so there appears to be no shortage of veteran options for the Capitals if that’s the direction they elect to go.
None, of course, will draw the same attention as Holtby given his ties to the team and the city.