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Holtby: 'The only stat I care about is wins'


Holtby: 'The only stat I care about is wins'

Maybe it was the fact he was standing next to one of the greatest goaltenders to ever lace up a pair of hockey skates.

Maybe his mind was wandering back to his teenage days when he read Martin Brodeur’s autobiography, Beyond The Crease, cover to cover.

Maybe someone whispered to him that before the game, Brodeur told reporters he reminded him of himself.

Whatever the reasons, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby wasn’t sure what to do for Saturday’s pre-game ceremonial puck drop involving  Brodeur and Devils goaltender Cory Schneider.

“It was a little awkward,” Holtby said after stopping 22 of 24 shots, plus two of three more in the Caps’ 3-2 shootout win over the Devils Saturday at Prudential Center.

“Cory and I looked at each other. We didn’t know what to do. Was it an actual puck drop? We forgot to take a picture (with Brodeur). It was bad.”

Once the real puck dropped Holtby went back to doing what he does best, keeping the Capitals in the game long enough for Paul Carey to tie the score late in the third period and Alex Ovechkin to win it in the shootout, after Holtby denied shootout attempts by Joseph Blandisi and Jacob Josefson.

Holtby is now an incredible 24-1-3 in his last 28 decisions and leads the NHL with 32 wins. With a record of 32-5-3, Holtby is on pace for 52 wins, which would shatter Brodeur’s single season record of 48 wins in 2006-07. Brodeur needed 78 games to set that record. Holtby is on pace to play just 67 games.

“It’s definitely something I look at because really the only stat I care about is wins,” Holtby said. “It’s a stat you can share with the rest of your team because everyone is part of it. We have a good group here and we know we have a lot of work to do in order to grow our game. But winning is the point, that’s why we’re here.”

Playing his second game in three days, Holtby said he felt better on Saturday than he did in Thursday night’s 3-2 win over the Islanders. After allowing a power-play goal by Blandisi early in the third period, Holtby says he never saw Adam Henrique’s go-ahead goal because teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov inadvertently sprayed snow in his face on a furious backcheck.

“It was kind of a weird play because I got a face full of snow before I could pick up the puck,” Holtby said, unaware it was Kuznetsov who provided the whiteout. “I didn’t see the release of it. I think he made a good shot, I’m not sure.”

Aside from Henrique’s goal, Holtby left a good impression on Brodeur, a goalie he grew up watching as a teenager growing up in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.

“It’s a big honor to be here when Marty is honored,” Holtby said. “Those were the goalies of my era – Marty, Patrick Roy, Marty Turco. That’s who I watched every single day. When I got deeper into goaltending I read (Brodeur’s) book. The mental ability he had and his stamina, it’s just amazing. You look at his stats and it’s like it’s not even real.”

MORE CAPITALS: Carey finishes tough week with first NHL goal for Caps

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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, there were also two players whose fathers 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.”