As the Capitals begin their search for Todd Reirden's replacement, Braden Holtby's upcoming free agency remains one of the franchise's biggest unanswered questions.
Has he played his last game in a Capitals uniform or will he return for another Stanley Cup run? Can Holtby even fetch a top-of-the-market deal?
NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May joined the Sports Junkies to talk about the goalie's future and how it will be difficult for him to find a team to give him a big-money contract.
"When you look at last year, Sergei Bobrovsky signed $10 million a year in Florida, and they regret that," May said. "Their general manager's out of a job, their team wasn't that great. I can't see [Holtby] getting a max contract anywhere. I may be wrong, but he is 31, he is too old, especially with a flat cap, to get a long contract offer.
"If the Caps were to do something I think it'd have to be a two-to-four year range at a dollar amount that's pretty similar to what he has right now," he said.
Bobrovsky established himself as perhaps the best goalie in the game during his time with the Blue Jackets. He won two Vezina trophies and made two All-Star teams before signing a seven-year, $70 million deal with Florida entering his age-31 season.
Holtby is in a similar spot age-wise as Bobrovsky and he, too, has a Vezina Trophy and something Bobrovsky doesn't: A Stanley Cup. But the flat salary cap caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will make it difficult for any player to find his true value on the open market, let alone hard-to-figure goalies.
Now, if it's going to be tough for another team to sign him, the Capitals should have a clear advantage in bringing him back, right? Well, not so much.
Before the season was suspended by the pandemic, Nicklas Backstrom signed a five-year, $46 million extension with Washington. The Caps also have to think about extending Alex Ovechkin too, while Ilya Samsonov showed promise throughout his rookie season as Holtby's backup.
The flat cap is going to create obstacles for the Capitals. If it were a normal offseason, perhaps they'd have a better chance at bringing back their franchise goalie, but it doesn't appear the market conditions will allow it.
Crazier things have happened though. Free agency will begin seven days after the Stanley Cup Final ends.