Short of handing some splashy, unforeseen contract to an unrestricted free agent forward, the most lucrative contract the Washington Capitals will ink this summer will have goaltender Braden Holtby’s name on the bottom line. Both sides have made clear their intentions to sign a multi-year extension for the 25-year-old, who finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting and tied a franchise record with 73 games played last season.
Last weekend at the NHL draft in Florida, when asked about the new deal Washington offered to Holtby, general manager Brian MacLellan characterized it as “huge” and laughed.
“Yeah, we made Holtby a good offer,” he said. “I think it’s competitive and I think it’s a fair offer and I think we’ll get some resolved.”
Reached Wednesday afternoon at his office in Saskatchewan, less than two hours before free agency began at noon, Holtby’s agent expressed similar confidence.
“In Braden’s case, I think it’s going to get done,” David Kaye said. “They’ve always been pretty fair with all their players. They both get along, Braden’s a great guy, he’d love to stay too. Washington’s a good team to deal with. Honestly I can’t see any major issues.”
The exact terms of the Capitals’ offer have not been formally disclosed, but are believed to be for at least five years at more than $5 million, while Holtby’s camp countered with its own desires. The sides still need to find middle ground on the average annual value, but Kaye had few concerns a deal would be finalized soon. Holtby is eligible for arbitration, and Sunday’s looming filing deadline could give everyone a last-minute push, if nothing has been finalized by then.
“I know Washington’s been pretty fair to their guys in the past,” Kaye said. “I just think it’s going to get done. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue.
“Waiting for them to come back to us. They’ll talk to us in the next little while, I know.”
Last season, Holtby went 41-20-10 for the Capitals with a 2.22 goals against average and .923 save percentage. He was exceptional during the postseason, leading the NHL in both categories (.944 save percentage, 1.71 goals against average) as the Capitals came one victory shy of moving into the Eastern Conference finals.
Kaye also represents forward Curtis Glencross, the midseason acquisition traded from Calgary for a second- and third-round pick who will hit unrestricted free agency Wednesday afternoon. Glencross had a productive stretch with the Capitals after the deal, netting seven points in his first six games, but later fell into a fourth-line role and got scratched during the playoffs.
Kaye said there was “lots of interest” in Glencross, a 32-year-old coming off a four-year deal worth $2.55 million per year, and did not rule out a return to the Capitals.
“He’d consider it,” Kaye said. “He’s enjoyed his time in Washington. Like every player, he wants to play a little more. I think if he would’ve probably started the season there, it probably would’ve ended up that way.”