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Holtby not letting himself off the hook


Holtby not letting himself off the hook

From Labor Day through New Year’s, Braden Holtby has been the Capitals’ most reliable and consistent player. It was with that in mind that Barry Trotz was careful with his critique of his goaltender following the Caps’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena.

“Holts wasn’t absolutely fantastic,” Trotz told reporters after watching Holtby allow four goals on 29 shots through 65 minutes, then two more on three shots in the shootout.

“If you measure his game to what it was all year, he’d probably put this as one of the lower points for the year. “But he’s been outstanding for us all year.

“I’m never going to blame the game on Holts because he’s won us so many, but he’ll probably say it wasn’t one of his better ones. He’s been incredible this year. He’s bounced back every opportunity we’ve let him.”

RELATED: Goaltender comes off bench to beat Caps

Holtby, whose loss was his first since Dec. 5, was equally disappointed in his effort against the Blue Jackets, which left his NHL-best record at 24-4-2.

“If I make a couple saves I know I can make, you’re not asking those questions and it doesn’t change the way we played at all,” Holtby said. “This one, I have to be better. It’s simple.”

Holtby and the Caps were 68 seconds away from a 4-3 win when Brandon Saad used a burst of speed to get behind Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen and flipped a shortside backhander over Holtby to tie the score.

“That’s a hard play, when they cut in front,” Holtby said, “and I think I cheated a bit too much (to the far post) to try to stop him from going to the backside there and left a little bit of space open.”

Despite the shootout loss, Holtby still has not lost a game in regulation since Nov. 10, a 19-game stretch in which he has gone 16-0-3. During that time Holtby has faced an increased volume of traffic in his crease as opponents try to make it more and more difficult for him to see pucks.

That was certainly the case Saturday night but Holtby believes the Blue Jackets crossed the line when Nick Foligno skated by Holtby and clipped him under the chin with his stick blade, prying Holtby’s mask off in the process.

“They missed that one, I think,” Trotz said of the officials, who did not call a penalty on the play. “Those are dangerous plays. There’s no reason for it. (Foligno’s) just got to control his stick. Holts was in the crease. It is what it is.”

Holtby has had his mask knocked off in each of his last two starts and is getting frustrated by the liberties players are taking in his crease.

“Yeah, I was not expecting it,” Holtby said. “That’s a pretty standard play. A goalie is standing there all the time. It’s tough when you don’t get those (called). It’s pretty clear that’s a high stick on him.”

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2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL


2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL

The Caps made seven selections in the 2018 Draft this weekend. The group featured three defensemen, three forwards and a goalie. Interestingly, a couple of the picks have fathers who enjoyed lengthy NHL careers.

Meet the newest prospects:

1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds

The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.

Read more on him here.

2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds

A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.

2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds

Kody Clark boasts an NHL pedigree as the son of Wendel Clark, a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs who recorded 330 goals and 564 career points in 763 NHL games.

3rd round, 93rd overall: F Riley Sutter, WHL, 6'3", 203 pounds

Riley Sutter also boasts a strong NHL pedigree as the son of Run Sutter and nephew of Darryl Sutter.

Riley is a power forward who played alongside Caps prospect Garrett Pilon on the Everett Silvertips in the WHL and recorded 53 points in 68 games last season.

4th round, 124th overall: G Mitchell Gibson, NAHL, 6'1", 187 pounds

A Harvard commit, Gibson posted a 1.59 GAA and .935 save percentage in the NAHL last season.

6th round, 161st overall (from Vancouver): D Alex Kannok-Leipert, WHL, 5'11", 194 pounds

The Caps certainly saw something they liked in Kannok-Leipert as they traded up from 186 to get him. That pick, along with a sixth-round pick in 2019, went to Vancouver.

7th round, 217th overall: F Eric Florchuk, WHL, 6'2", 174 pounds

Florchuk was taken with the last pick of the draft.


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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson


GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”