Tag: Braden Holtby

Capitals GM MacLellan seems optimistic about negotiations with pending RFA Holtby


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

Washington Capitals v Minnesota Wild
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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


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

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game Six

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.

PHT Morning Skate: Charitable beards and young Mike Babcock


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.

Even if you’re one of those cold souls who think that playoff beards are played out – really? – this story should warm your heart a bit: the Washington Capitals’ (copyrighted!) Beard-a-Thon raised more than $30K for the American Special Hockey Association. (Capitals)

Want to get your mind blown a little bit? Check out these photos of young and very young Mike Babcock. (BarDown)

Former WWE star CM Punk’s passion for the Chicago Blackhawks is no secret, but you can find out more about his fandom here. (The Hockey News)

Alex Killorn believes that his mom is more impressed with his degree than his NHL career. Well, it is from Harvard. (Tampa Bay Times)

More on Joel Quenneville’s decision to go with “fresh legs.” (CSNChicago.com)

The “ripple effect” of Babcock’s contract. (Sportsnet)

Clearing the defensive zone might not be so clearly beneficial. (Jen LC)