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Making sense out of Holtby's bid for $8 million

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Making sense out of Holtby's bid for $8 million

Don’t be misled by Braden Holtby seeking the biggest arbitration award in NHL history. While he may have filed a request for $8 million, there’s very little chance he will walk away from Thursday’s hearing as the second highest-paid goaltender in the league, behind Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5 million average salary).

It is also highly unlikely the independent arbitrator will rule in favor of the Capitals, who reportedly submitted a one-year request for $5.1 million.

If history repeats itself, an NHL arbitrator will find common ground somewhere in the middle, which in the case of Holtby, would be a one-year settlement in the $6.5 million range. A ruling must be made within 48 hours of the hearing, but the two sides can come to an agreement on a new contract any time before the ruling is handed down.

As a point of reference, let’s look back to the 2011 arbitration between defenseman Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators. Weber was seeking $8.5 from the arbitrator, while the Predators submitted a figure of $4.75 million. The arbitrator in that case awarded Weber $7.5 million, the most lucrative award in NHL history.

John LeClair of the Philadelphia Flyers had set the previous record of $7 million back in 2000. LeClair was  seeking $9 million; the Flyers’ submission was $4.6 million.

When Holtby’s agent, David Kaye, presents his case on Thursday he likely will use Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky as Exhibit A. Heading into last season, Bobrovsky was the same age as Holtby is now (25) and had put up almost identical career stats (179 games, 95-54-21 record, 2.49 GAA, .917 save percentage) as Holtby has now (178 games, 101-54-18 record, 2.44 GAA, .921 save percentage).

RELATED: Arbitration numbers set for Holtby vs. Capitals

With Bobrovsky headed toward restricted free agency, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed him in January to a four-year, $29.7 million deal that averages $7.425 million, making him the second highest-paid goalie, behind Lundqvist. But Bobrovsky has a Vezina Trophy under his belt and of the nine goalies making $6 million or more, seven of them have won a Vezina Trophy and/or a Stanley Cup, something Holtby cannot claim.

If Holtby’s award falls in the range between Carey Price ($6.5 million) and Tuukka Rask ($7 million), the Caps would have roughly $3.7 million in cap space to sign left wing Marcus Johansson, who is scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 29. The Caps can gain more cap space before the start of the season by sending goaltender Justin Peters ($950,000) to AHL Hershey, but it’s becoming clear they will be very close to the ceiling when the summer comes to an end.

Arbitration Procedure: 

At the hearing, each side has 90 minutes to present its case, followed by rebuttals from both sides. During the process, both sides can provide evidence to support their contract demands/offers, such as:

  • The number of games played and a player's injury history
  •  “Overall performance” [This includes NHL official statistics, including hits and giveaways; however, metrics such as Corsi ratings, zone starts, etc. are not admissible]  
  • Length of service of the player to the club or in the NHL
  • "The overall contribution of the Player to the competitive success or failure of his club in the preceding season" 
  • "Any special qualities of leadership or public appeal" 
  • The overall performance and compensation of comparable players
  • "Testimonials, videotapes, newspaper columns, press game reports 
    or similar materials” (Like Caps coach Barry Trotz saying Holtby is part of the team’s “DNA.”)

Binding decision: At the conclusion of the hearing the arbitrator must issue a decision to both parties within 48 hours, and it will include the term, salary, and a brief summary of the reasoning behind the decision.

Walk-aways: Although the decision of the arbitrator is binding, teams have the right to walk away from an award that exceeds $3.799 million.

MORE CAPS: Backstrom says he's aiming for season opener 

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D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

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@tkopaintings on Twitter

D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

Local artist Taylor Kampa has taken her love for the Washington Capitals and turned it into works of art. 

You can find paintings done by Kampa of Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Braden Holtby on display at Circa Chinatown – a restaurant neighboring Capital One Arena – along with other D.C. celebrities.

A professional artist for the last decade, Kampa told NHL.com that the pictures were "passion projects," and took about eight hours to finish. She became a fan of the Caps after she began dating her now-husband back in 2009.

Her work has even caught the eye of The Great Eight. After posting a video to Instagram of her painting Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner liked and commented on it. 

"I almost died," Kampa said.

"It has been amazing sharing something that I am excited about that resonates with the people in my city," Kampa said. "I've been painting these portraits for a long time, so it's awesome to have them seen by so many people."

Kampa will also create paintings for the Capitals foundation's annual Casino Night fundraiser next year. 

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Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Who will be the team's primary fourth line center?

With the departure of Jay Beagle, there is a spot open at center on the fourth line. There appears on the roster to be three clear candidates to fill that position: Chandler Stephenson, Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd.

To find out why you should cross Stephenson’s name off the list, you should read yesterday's Key Caps Question about whether or not Stephenson is a wing or a center. To summarize, Washington sees Stephenson as more of a wing which explains why they both re-signed Boyd and brought in Dowd.

So who will it be between those two?

Both players seem to fit the mold as effective centers in the AHL where they were both productive. Dowd has an edge in NHL experience with 131 NHL games as compared to Boyd’s eight.

But Barry Trotz clearly had faith in Boyd at center which is why we saw him fill in on the top line on March 18 in Philadelphia. Boyd rewarded that faith with a spin pass to Alex Ovechkin for an assist, his first career point.

Trotz is now gone and Todd Reirden is in charge, but there is at least a level of familiarity there with the coaching staff and Boyd, more so than with Dowd who is new to the organization.

Second, the Caps may have tipped their hand a bit when you compare the two contracts. Center is an important position and Brian MacLellan has frequently referenced the team’s strength in center depth as a major reason for their Cup run.

Both Boyd and Dowd were signed over the offseason. Both contracts are one-way, suggesting both will be in the NHL, but Boyd’s cap hit is $800,000 while Dowd’s is $650,000. Of course, that will not matter when the players get on the ice. If Dowd outplays Boyd, he will start over him. Plus, the market ultimately dictates price. Even if the Caps wanted Dowd for their top line, if you can get him for $650k, you sign him for $650k.

Considering how important a position center is, however, even on the fourth line, it seems telling that the team was willing to give Boyd, a player with eight games of experience to his name, $800k while Dowd was signed for the minimum. That seems to suggest the Caps at least foresee Boyd having a bigger role which, for two players penciled in for the fourth line, would mean playing him at center.

Other key Caps questions: