The Capitals have signed goaltender Braden Holtby and defenseman John Erskine to two-year contract extensions, the club announced on Monday.
Holtby, 23, will earn $1.7 million in 2013-14 and $2 million in 2014-15. He would have become a restricted free agent following this season.
Erskine, 32, will earn $1.925 million in 2013-14 and $2 million in 2014-15. He would have been an unrestricted free agent.
In 32 career starts in the NHL Holtby is 19-10-3 with a 2.51 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and four shutouts.
“He’s a little more refined,” Capitals general manager George McPhee said. “We like the way he’s playing and what he can do here for the next few years.”
This season he has compiled a 5-6-0 record with a 3.37 GAA, an .896 save percentage and one shutout. He has started the last six games, going 4-2-0 with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in that span.
“It’s nice to have it out of the way,” Holtby said, adding that talks for a new contract started about two weeks ago. “Obviously, you don’t want it to come down to a stretch in the summer. It’s nice to have that support, but at the same time it’s the business side. My job is to focus on the games and perform well no matter what the contract is.”
Erskine said negotiations for a new deal began three weeks ago and is happy to stay in Washington for two more years, especially after playing in just 28 games last season under Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter. Asked if he thought he’d be re-signed by the Caps at the end of last season, Erskine said, “Not here. I was thinking maybe another team, but things have worked out this season.
This season Erskine has played in 11 games and ranks sixth on the Caps in average ice time per game (19:30), the highest total in Erskine’s 11-season career. He has one goal and one assist this season and ranks fourth on the Caps in hits (31) and tied for third in blocked shots (19).
“He probably should have played more last year and unfortunately he didn’t,” McPhee said. “He brings something we like a lot. Good player who plays tough and keeps people honest.”
With Holtby and Erskine under contract, the Caps now have 13 players – eight forwards, four defensemen and one goalie -- under contract for next season.
Those still without contracts for the 2013-14 season are forwards Mike Ribeiro, Joey Crabb, Marcus Johansson, Matt Hendricks, Wojtek Wolski and Eric Fehr; defensemen Roman Hamrlik, Tom Poti, Karl Alzner, Tomas Kundratek and Jack Hillen; and goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
Neivirth, who is 1-4-1 this season with a 3.05 GAA, is in the final year of a contract that pays him $1.15 million.
“It doesn’t change opinions or anything,” McPhee said when asked about how Holtby’s contract affects Neuvirth. “What we did for Braden is exactly the same thing we did for Michal a couple years ago