Braden Holtby

No question: Price wins Vezina Trophy by decisive margin

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For the first time in his career Carey Price is the winner of the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender.

The Habs’ starter beat out Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.

Price won 44 games during the 2014-15 season beating Jacques Plante’s franchise record. His 1.96 G.A.A. and .933 save percentage led all goalies this season.

Earlier in the evening Price won his first Ted Lindsay Award.

Here are the full voting results:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd)

1. Carey Price, MTL 144 (27-3-0)
2. Pekka Rinne, NSH 60 (1-15-10)
3. Devan Dubnyk, MIN 28 (1-4-11)
4. Braden Holtby, WSH 26 (0-7-5)
5. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 6 (1-0-1)
6. Corey Crawford, CHI 3 (0-1-0)
7. Andrew Hammond, OTT 1 (0-0-1)
Jonathan Quick, LAK 1 (0-0-1)
Cam Talbot, NYR 1 (0-0-1)

Here’s a list of the Vezina winners and second-place finishers since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up
2015 Carey Price, Mtl. Pekka Rinne, Nsh.
2014 Tuukka Rask, Bos. Semyon Varlamov, Col.
2013 Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
2012 Henrik Lundqvist, NYR Jonathan Quick, L.A.
2011 Tim Thomas, Bos. Pekka Rinne, Nsh.
2010 Ryan Miller, Buf. Ilya Bryzgalov, Phx.
2009 Tim Thomas, Bos. Steve Mason, CBJ
2008 Martin Brodeur, N.J. Evgeni Nabokov, S.J.
2007 Martin Brodeur, N.J. Roberto Luongo, Van.
2006 Miikka Kiprusoff, Cgy. Martin Brodeur, N.J
2004 Martin Brodeur, N.J. Miikka Kiprusoff, Cgy.
2003 Martin Brodeur, N.J. Marty Turco, Dal.
2002 Jose Theodore, Mtl. Patrick Roy, Col.
2001 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Roman Cechmanek, Phi.
2000 Olaf Kolzig, Wsh. Roman Turek, St. L.
1999 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Curtis Joseph, Tor.
1998 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Martin Brodeur, N.J
1997 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Martin Brodeur, N.J
1996 Jim Carey, Wsh. Chris Osgood, Det.
1995 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Ed Belfour, Chi.
1994 Dominik Hasek, Buf. John Vanbiesbrouck, Fla.
1993 Ed Belfour, Chi. Tom Barrasso, Pit.
1992 Patrick Roy, Mtl. Kirk McLean, Van.
1991 Ed Belfour, Chi. Patrick Roy, Mtl.
1990 Patrick Roy, Mtl. Daren Puppa, Buf.

Capitals GM MacLellan seems optimistic about negotiations with pending RFA Holtby

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This is shaping up to be an interesting off-season for the Washington Capitals and general manager Brian MacLellan, with re-signing pending restricted free agent goalie Braden Holtby among the priorities.

Holtby, 25, is coming off an impressive 2014-15 season, with 41 wins, a .923 save percentage (seventh in the NHL) and 2.22 goals-against average (fifth in the NHL). His Stanley Cup playoff was even better, although it only lasted two rounds after a seven-game series loss to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Still, he posted a .944 save percentage and 1.71 goals-against average in 13 post-season games, which were both good enough for second amongst all NHL goalies in the playoffs. According to Sportsnet.ca, Holtby had a cap hit of $1.85 million this past season.

“We’re negotiating,” MacLellan told Craig Custance of ESPN. “We’re trying to get a good deal done for both parties. He’s a priority for us. I think we’ll get it done. It seems to be going the proper way in negotiations.”

Caps announce Fehr, a pending UFA, underwent successful elbow surgery

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Veteran forward Eric Fehr, who flourished in his role as Washington’s third-line center this season, has undergone successful elbow surgery, the club announced on Thursday.

Per a release, Fehr will be healthy for the start of next season “if rehabilitation goes well.”

Fehr, who missed 10 of Washington’s 14 playoff games with a shoulder injury, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. There does appear a mutual desire from both sides to have Fehr return to the Caps next season, especially after he scored 19 goals and 33 points this season while posting a career-high 14:51 TOI per night.

“Obviously, I have a lot of friends here and I’ve been here a lot of years,” Fehr told CSN Washington. “I think this is a special group. Obviously, I’d love to be back here, but looking at the amount of guys we have unsigned right now you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Fehr is one of seven Capitals scheduled to go UFA, along with Mike Green, Joel Ward, Jay Beagle, John Erskine, Curtis Glencross and Tim Gleason. GM Brian MacLellan also needs to strike new deals with important RFAs Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and goalie Braden Holtby.

Video: ‘We’re right there,’ says Lundqvist

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The New York Rangers were one win away from back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup Final. However, there will be no return trip this year.

They lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning, ending a post-season that saw Henrik Lundqvist often as the backbone, their best player, on many nights. In the first round against Pittsburgh, each of the five games were decided by one goal, including three in a row by 2-1 decisions.

Against Washington, the Rangers managed to come back from a 3-1 series deficit. Again, every game decided by one goal.

It can be argued New York was flirting with an earlier exit, had it not been for timely goals, but mostly for the play of Lundqvist, who posted a .928 save percentage in the playoffs. The only goalie to play 10 or more games in this post-season and post a better save percentage was Braden Holtby.

Despite giving up two third-period goals — an Alex Killorn backhander through traffic and an Ondrej Palat wrist shot off the rush — Lundqvist was sharp. His collection of saves included a great glove stop on Jason Garrison, and a quick pad save on Tyler Johnson to keep it scoreless in the second period.

“I think we all expected him to do that; he’s a great goaltender,” said Johnson of Lundqvist to NHL.com.

“There’s no denying that. We knew we would just have to keep getting opportunities and we knew he was going to save a lot of those, so it was just a matter of time for us to get try to get more opportunities than he could save. Luckily, we were able to.”

Ward’s agent makes it (very) clear that Washington is his first choice

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In a strange way, hearing a player’s agent say that his client would prefer returning to a team (rather than testing the free agent waters) is almost a bigger deal than the player saying so himself.

After all, there might be some temptation for said player to “say the right thing,” especially right after the emotional tug-of-war of a playoff series. So, yes, Joel Ward said that he’d like to return to the Washington Capitals a couple weeks ago, yet it’s a bit of an eyebrow-raiser that his agent Peter Cooney confirmed it so forcefully to the Washington Post on Tuesday.

“Washington is his first choice over going to unrestricted free agency,” Cooney said. “We would like to re-sign with Washington and come back. Our door is open for the Capitals, absolutely first and foremost.”

Cooney also said that “we’re not committed to going to unrestricted free agency,” another clear sign that they’d love to hear some offers from Washington between today and July 1.

Of course, after the sort of postseason the 34-year-old enjoyed, a plausible stream of offers could return any leverage lost – perceived or otherwise – from these comments. In some ways, this could put a little pressure on Capitals GM Brian MacLellan, too.

It’s not the simplest situation due to Ward’s age and the Capitals’ branching free agent paths, as the Post considers:

Coming off a starring postseason role in which he tied for the team lead with nine points, facing the end of a four-year deal annually worth $3 million, Ward figures to receive a raise, regardless of his destination. At 34 years old, this could be Ward’s last deal structured longer than two years, and MacLellan already predicted that term length would “be an issue,” provided Ward for asks for a three- or four-year contract, which seems all but certain.

(The article delves into more detail and is worth a read.)

On one hand, the Capitals head into the summer with a lot of cap space – somewhere around $20 million – yet they also have some key players needing new deals. Even beyond UFAs, Braden Holtby is likely to get a beefy raise, even with his restricted status. That pile of cash starts evaporate when you consider the questions MacLellan must eventually answer.

That’s the thing, though: Ward and his agent have made it perfectly clear that the ball is Washington’s court/puck is in their rink.

Related: Ward says he would love to stay in Washington.