CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2012-13 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Braden Holtby
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 203
Goals Against Average: 2.58
Save Percentage: .920
Contract Status: 2 years remaining on 2-year, $3.7 million contract [$1.85 million cap hit in 2013-14]
Strengths: Few goaltenders in the NHL can handle and pass the puck as well as Holtby, who rebounded from a terrible start – 18 goals in his first four appearances – to finish tied for second in the NHL with 23 wins. Holtby is quick in his crease, never gives up on a puck and plays with a swagger rarely seen in goalies his age.
Weaknesses: Handed the No. 1 job at the start of the season, Holtby allowed 10 goals in his first two starts, sat out the next five games as an understudy to Michal Neuvirth, then surrendered eight more goals in his following two starts before turning around his season and winning 22 of his final 31 starts. Holtby’s glove hand can be suspect at times.
Memorable Moment: In the closing minute of a 5-3 home win over the Buffalo Sabres on March 17, Holtby corralled the puck behind his net, scooted to his left and launched a shot toward the Sabres’ empty net. The puck would have sailed wide right but teammate Alex Ovechkin plucked it out of the air, negating any chance for Holtby’s first career goal. “That was as close as I could get,” Holtby said. “A lot of goalies when I was growing up that was the thing to do; they were scoring goals. Hopefully, someday it happens.”
2013-14 Expectations: Holtby’s numbers were better in the playoffs [2.22 GAA, .922 save percentage] than they were in the regular season, even with a shaky Game 7 in which he allowed five goals in a series-ending 5-0 loss. The Caps seem to have finally found a No. 1 goalie they can count on and that could mean Neuvirth is traded this summer and prospect Philipp Grubauer is promoted.