Holtby certainly proved his worth last season after posting a record of 41-20-10 with a 2.22 GAA and a .923 save percentage. He was a major reason why the Capitals went from a wild card team to a legitimate playoff team, and his work in the series over the Islanders can't be overlooked. Holtby really has solidified a position that had been shaky over the years for the Capitals, and he supplanted both Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov after those two netminders were expected to rise to the occasion.
The salary commitment by the Capitals is a little unorthodox, though, as Holtby will receive $3.5 million plus $3M bonus this year, two years at $7 million, and two more at $5 million. I'm not sure a signing bonus was necessary, but the average cap hit of $5.1 million isn't terrible, and he'll be 30 years-old when the five-year deal expires which gives both Holtby and the Capitals some options at that time.
There will be questions as to whether Holtby is the netminder that can lead the Capitals to the promised land, but he had better regular-season stats than both Ben Bishop and Corey Crawford, and they played for the Stanley Cup. He tied for second in wins with 41, fifth in GAA and save percentage, and was tied for second in total shutouts for the season. There aren't many goalies with those kinds of numbers who are being paid less than Holtby, so it's now on Holtby's shoulders to continue to deliver those kinds of numbers.
"Since Day One I've wanted to be the guy in the Washington Capitals net, since I got drafted by them," Holtby told Katie Brown of NHL.com. "It doesn't change. I'm just happy to have the opportunity, and like in the past I know I still have to prove it."
Clearly, he had a great season, finishing fourth in Vezina Trophy voting, but he set a number of career-bests last season while tying a number of Capitals franchise records. "My goal has always been to win as many games as possible and work toward that goal of a Stanley Cup," Holtby said. "Obviously, we fell short, so we know we need to get better - myself, our group - and I think we're doing the right things to do that. I try and focus on my job to win games and accomplish the main goal."
The Capitals have given Holtby 30.5 million reasons to continue to improve and win as many games. There is still the outstanding arbitration hearing for Marcus Johansson who also set career highs in goals, assists, and points last season, but, unlike Holtby, there has been little movement on that front from either side. Holtby, though, solidifies the defensive zone considerably with this signing, and I expect him to continue to provide above-average goaltending going forward.
Especially in an always-improving Metropolitan Division.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!