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2018-19 Rink Wrap: Braden Holtby

From Backstrom to Wilson, we’re taking a look at and grading the 2018-19 season for every player who laced ‘em up for the Stanley Cup Champion Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2019-20. Next up, Braden Holtby.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Regular season:


Key Stat: Braden Holtby’s regular season save percentage went up to 91.1% this year, from 90.7% last year...though he still was off the mark from his career average save percentage of 91.8%.

The Good: Holtby seemed back in form for most of the year, which represented a significant improvement from the regular season last year. Holtby also played more games this year (59) than last year (54), had a higher save percentage this year (91.1%, compared to 90.7% last year) and had a lower goals against average (2.82, compared to 2.99 last year). At even strength, Holtby stopped 92.3% of shots, which ranked him in the upper half of qualified NHL goalies. Advanced analytics also favored Holtby, as Money Puck said Holtby had a .337% higher save percentage than otherwise expected and Evolving Hockey had Holtby as being worth 3.8 wins above replacement level.

The Bad: We all know about Holtby’s struggles in game 7, so let’s highlight a slightly different area. Holtby has seen a deterioration of his save percentage on the penalty kill, which became particularly pronounced last year. In fact, Holtby’s save percentage of 82.7% on the PK represented a new career low for Holtby and was one of the worst percentages among all NHL netminders this season. A decent argument could be made for the team in front of him playing a larger role in those abysmal numbers, of course, but the fact that his personal numbers actually dropped after the team’s post-deadline improvements would suggest that he also wasn’t always making the saves he needed to make when down a man.

The Video:

Holtby’s 30-save shutout of the Canes in game 5 looked to be a turning point of the series. Holtby was dynamite, and it clearly had the Canes off their game towards the end. At the end, Holtby passed Olie Kolzig for most playoff shutouts in Washington Capitals franchise history:

Ok but really, let’s just look at Holtby’s save at game 2 of last year’s SCF again, to get the bitter taste of this year out of our mouths:

The Chart:

The Discussion: Holtby is going to be a free agent next year, unless the Capitals lock him up to another long-term extension. Although Holtby had a bit of a rebound this year during the regular season, he’ll be 30 in September, and signing him long term represents a risk for the Caps. Do we think Holtby merits another long term extension, or will one of the team’s netminding prospects in Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek be ready by then? How much would you be willing to give a goalie who will be just shy of his 31st birthday next summer? What would it take for you to give him a ‘10’ next season?

Other Holtby Season Reviews: RMNB

The Vote: Rate Holtby below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.


How do you rate Braden Holtby’s 2018-19 season?

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158 votes total Vote Now