Holtby is the third Capitals goaltender to capture the Vezina Trophy, following Jim Carey (1995-96) and Olie Kolzig (1999-2000). Holtby, 26, finished fourth in Vezina voting last year and was an overwhelming favorite to win the trophy this time around. With 48 wins, he tied Martin Brodeur for the single-season wins mark, finishing the regular season with a 48-9-7 record, three shutouts, a 2.20 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage, fifth best among primary starters in the NHL.
For the Capitals, Holtby’s season served as additional validation of the five-year, $30.5 million contract he got last offseason. For a Capitals team that ran away with the Presidents’ Trophy, Holtby was repeatedly proclaimed their MVP. The Vezina Trophy voting wasn’t close, as 26 of the first-place votes went to him.
“I mean, the season looked really good on paper but there’s still a lot of areas I’d like to do better,” Holtby said earlier this month. “The last half of the season, there’s a lot of room for improvement, especially for myself. It was frustrating then, and it still is now. But there’s ways we can improve, and we’re going to get better.”
The Capitals had the most finalists for NHL awards with five. Alex Ovechkin was up for the Mark Messier Leadership Award, which Nashville’s Shea Weber won, and Brian MacLellan finished second to Pittsburgh’s Jim Rutherford for General Manager of the Year. Holtby was also a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award, the MVP as voted by the players, which went to Chicago’s Patrick Kane, who also took home the Hart Trophy as the league MVP.
Chicago’s Artemi Panarin won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, Los Angeles’s Drew Doughty won the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman and Los Angeles’s Anze Kopitar won the Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward. Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom finished 12th in voting for the Selke.
Ovechkin won the Rocket Richard Trophy for a sixth time after again scoring the most goals in the league.
“I know for Alex, getting to 50 goals is a big deal and I think it’s a great accomplishment,” MacLellan said on Tuesday. “You know, I’m proud of the fact that he’s involved in the leadership award. I think that’s a big statement on where he’s at, what he’s done and what he’s accomplished. I think it’s a big deal for him to be in the group of three. Hopefully, he’s proud of it. I know the organization is of him.
“Holtby, he’s put a lot of work in. He keeps developing and keeps getting better. It’s nice to see him be rewarded for a great season.”