James O'Brien

Braden Holtby

Capitals investment: Holtby signs five-year, $30.5M deal

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Braden Holtby received a huge raise on Friday, but it was more than reasonable considering his breakout season with the Washington Capitals.

The team signed him to a five-year, $30.5 million contract, which makes him the seventh-highest paid goalie in the NHL.

“Braden emerged as a top NHL goaltender and we are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract,” GM Brian MacLellan said. “We feel Braden is just entering his prime and in his young career has already established himself as one of the best goaltenders in the history of our franchise. He is an athletic goaltender with a tremendous work ethic and is a big part of our future.”

Holtby’s cap hit comes in at $6.1 million, placing him here among netminders:

This is how the contract reportedly breaks down from a year-to-year perspective:

The 25-year-old came into 2014-15 with very nice career averages, but this was the season where he proved that he could be a big-time work horse, logging a ridiculous 73 games played. It wasn’t quantity over quality, either, as he went 41-20-10 with nine shutouts and a .923 save percentage.

His playoff work has been great, too, especially from an individual standpoint. Holtby bumped his career postseason save percentage to .936, up from his already-impressive regular season average of .921.

In many regards, Holtby is worth every penny of this deal, especially considering those numbers. It’s a nice situation for him, too, as this buys some RFA time at a healthy price. He was a steal at his previous cap hit of $1.85 million, yet his rate is pretty reasonable right now, too.

Washington has an estimated $4.22 million in cap space remaining after the deal, according to General Fanager.

PHT Morning Skate: Seguin, Del Zotto and Stifler

stiflerseguinmdz
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Not many people saw Lou Lamoriello’s Devils departure coming, but New Jersey fixture Ken Daneyko basically says “called it!” (Newark Star-Ledger)

Looking at hockey players who pulled the John Elway: retiring after they won a Stanley Cup. (ESPN)

It sounds like video game announcer is a tough side gig. (Sportsnet)

Elite Prospects is already a great resource, but it is now distinguishing itself by compiling women’s hockey stats. (The Hockey News)

Apparently Tyler Seguin and Michael Del Zotto are making a cameo in “Goon 2,” which also reminds the Dallas Stars of Mike Modano’s Mighty Ducks appearance:

Full autonomy: Lamoriello’s place in Leafs’ chain of command

Lou Lamoriello
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How would a front office that once pondered not naming a GM at all handle the addition of an executive who’s accustomed to wielding Zeus-like control?

When the shock of the Toronto Maple Leafs naming Lou Lamoriello as their new general manager wore off, people began wondering how, exactly, everything would work. It seems simple enough, though: Lamoriello will wield the typical stopping power of a GM, answering only to Brendan Shanahan, as TSN noted from his presser:

“That’s what I’m told,” Lamoriello said. “I report to Brendan. And the other people report to me.”

While Lamoriello noted that he’s “not going to be here for a lifetime,” the 72-year-old’s three-year contract is at least part of the argument against this being a transitional hire (with young assistant GM Kyle Dubas potentially taking the reins).

Instead, it sounds the future of that executive position is quite open-ended:

It’s truly been a drastic couple of years of changes with Shanahan in charge, as the team replaced Randy Carlyle with Mike Babcock, Dave Nonis with Lamoriello, seemed to do a 180 on analytics and even traded Phil Kessel.

As much as executives preach patience, it’s tough to shake the feeling that the drama’s just starting.

Here’s video of the press conference:

Pens opt against making AHL record-breaker Murray a backup for Fleury

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The departure of Thomas Greiss and a record-breaking AHL season apparently aren’t enough to inspire the Pittsburgh Penguins to tab Matt Murray as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup, as the team website reports.

Management’s explanation is simple enough: Fleury is the No. 1 guy, so why not allow Murray to get more reps as the top dog in the AHL instead of being glued to the bench?

“He’s not coming in here and beating out Marc-Andre Fleury and taking over this team,” Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “We love what we have down the line here, and it is down the line. He just turned 21. He needs to play hockey games. You can’t develop if he’s sitting on the bench. That’s just a fact.”

Although he said the Penguins knew he was good, Fitzgerald admitted that they didn’t expect him to generate the kind of 2014-15 campaign he did, winning the AHL’s goalie of the year award while putting up big numbers.

A devil’s advocate take might be that it’s sometimes wise to ride out surprise hot streaks with goalies. The Ottawa Senators rode Andrew Hammond’s out-of-left-field surge to a playoff berth while Devan Dubnyk went from the scrap heap to saving the Minnesota Wild’s season, and neither team anticipated either scenario, right?

Regardless, the good news for the Penguins is that Murray seems fine with both scenarios.

“I think either way could be good for me,” Murray said. “I think playing in the AHL wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but also practicing with the best players in the world wouldn’t be a bad thing either, so the way I look at it, either way I can take the positives out of it. Wherever I end up, I’m still going to have the same determinations and play the same way each and every day and let things take care of itself.”

Matching a record-breaking season might be asking for too much, but if Murray’s for real, he’ll get his big chance sooner or later.

Semin’s agent says he’s closing in on a deal, critiques Bill Peters

Carolina Hurricanes v Detroit Red Wings
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Alexander Semin stands as one of the most fascinating wild cards in NHL free agency, and it sounds like we’ll find out where he’ll land soon.

His agent Mark Gandler told Sovsport.ru that Semin should come to a decision soon. Here’s a translation of a rather saucy quote Gandler gave about Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters, via Hockey VIPs Magazine:

“[Semin’s] career can only go up,” Gandler said. “He is still young. His buyout was under unique circumstances and the (Hurricanes) coach did not understand Sasha’s game.”

As usual, the 31-year-old sniper’s strengths and weaknesses make him a pretty polarizing player. Granted, the “against” crowd is growing with each disappointing season, whether the letdowns come from injuries or a perceived lack of effort.

While his future destination and production stand as mysteries, it seems obvious that there are hard feelings between Semin and the Hurricanes.

Gandler took a swipe at Carolina’s head coach following GM Ron Francis’ comments about Semin’s lack of “compete level,” a criticism that’s been common throughout his career (fair or not). It’s been made repeatedly clear that the (once?) dangerous scorer doesn’t want to go to the KHL, so whenever his new team is revealed, drama-lovers are likely to circle his dates against the Hurricanes in 2015-16.

Related: Discuss possible destinations for Semin