As the offseason begins, we’ll take a player-by-player look at the year that was for the Washington Capitals.
Contract status: $637,777 in 2010-11, $637,777 in 2011-12.
The year that was: With several stints in Washington this season, Braden Holtby made himself part of the organization’s NHL planning perhaps sooner than anticipated. Holtby performed well under last-minute pressure when required for spot duty as Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov battled various injuries, particularly in March when he went on a five-game winning streak to be named first star of the week.
Holtby won each of his final six appearances with the Capitals this year and eight of the last nine. It is a small sample size for the 21-year-old Saskatchewan native, but Holtby’s confidence in an NHL net grew over the course of the season after a rocky beginning that included starts in two eventual 5-0 losses in November.
Holtby brings a different air in net than either Neuvirth or Varlamov with his puck-handling ability and the way he doesn’t hesitate to defend his own crease. Granted, part of gaining experience for Holtby will include learning when to take risks and when not to — particularly when playing the puck.
Looking ahead: With three young goaltenders all vying for time in the NHL, it stands to reason that at some point the Capitals’ brass will need to make a decision on which netminders to keep in the organization. It’s possible a decision on that front could be made at some point this offseason.
There’s no reason to believe Holtby won’t continue to make steady progress with more time, regardless of if he’s exclusively in the NHL or still splitting time between Washington and Hershey.