Holtby has much to prove, possibly even to Caps’ GM

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Even if it could still be a relative bargain for the Washington Capitals, it’s not lost on Braden Holtby that his five-year, $30.5 million contract puts him in select company among goalies.

Holtby provided a message during Friday’s conference call: after working to earn a raise from $1.85 million to $6.1 million per year, now he must show that he’s worth that new deal.

As the seventh-highest paid netminder in the NHL, some would expect “elite” work. Interestingly, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan wasn’t ready to put him in that category just yet.

“I don’t know if I would call him elite,” MacLellan said. “He’s above average, that’s for sure.”

Perhaps the Caps GM is just guilty of using some odd semantics, though. He also told reporters that he believes that Holtby has the potential to win championships for Washington and be a “top-two or top-five” goalie.

“I think he’s just touching the surface of what he could become,” MacLellan said, according to the Canadian Press. “I don’t know what the ceiling is on him.”

OK, so obviously MacLellan wasn’t burying the 25-year-old, but it was still a little weird to hear him hesitate to throw around the word elite.

Maybe he just doesn’t want Holtby’s ego to inflate along with his bank account?