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Reflecting on Braden Holtby

October 15, 2020, 3:45 PM ET [14 Comments]
Brian Sickles
Washington Capitals Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Hello Hockey Fam,

All good things must come to an end. For Braden Holtby, his time in Washington has officially concluded. Today I will be reflecting back on Holtby’s time in DC and some of my favorite Holtby moments.

The Beginning - Holtby was then drafted 93rd overall in in the 4th round of the 2008 entry level draft. Holtby played Junior Hockey for the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL. In his final season with the Blades, he posted an impressive 40-16-4 record. He posted six shutouts that year and also carried a .910 SV%. Only 11 goalies were selected in the 2008 draft and Holtby was the 10th selected. Here is a look at everyone selected:

18th - Nashville Predators -Chet Pickard

30th - Detroit Red Wings - Thomas McCollum

31st - Florida Panthers - Jacob Markstrom

34th - St. Louis Blues - Jake Allen

59th - Dallas Stars - Tyler Beskorowany

61st - Colorado Avalanche - Peter Delmas

77th - Boston Bruins - Michael Hutchinson

83rd - Anaheim Ducks - Marco Cousineau

84th - Philadelphia Flyers - Jacob Deserres

93rd - Washington Capitals - Braden Holtby

106th - San Jose Sharks - Harri Sateri

Following the draft between 2009-2012, Holtby spent most of his time in the farm system with the Hersey Bears posting impressive numbers. As the result of a couple injuries, Holtby was called up on a few occasions for the Capitals. His first call up was in 2010-2011 where he posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.05 GAA and a .965 SV%. One of those games he posted a 5-0 shutout. He was named NHL first star that week. He also posted a 10-2-2 record before getting sent back down to the minors.

We would not see Holtby again until the last game of the 2011-2012 season where he was called up a result of injuries to Vokoun and Neuvirth. Holtby was thrust into the spotlight of the NHL Playoffs as the 7-seed Capitals faced off against the defending Stanley Cup Champions and 2-seed Boston Bruins. Tim Thomas was also the reigning Vezina trophy winner. Boy, did these two have an EPIC dual! Holtby posted a .940 SV% and a 2.13 GAA average. Thomas posted equally great numbers with a .923 SV% and a 2.14 GAA. Holtby stepped up big in game seven and stopped 31 of 32 shots (.969 SV%) for a 2-1 OT win IN BOSTON. I know I am bias but that was one of the best performances ive ever seen by a rookie goalie in the playoffs. Holtby went toe to toe with the great Tim Thomas and the Capitals upset the defending Stanley Cup Champs. If you hadn’t heard of Braden Holtby before that series, you certainly were introduced to him now

Transition to the NHL – I don’t think many fans expected to get such a comparable replacement to Olaf Kolzig so fast but in stepped Holtby and man was he awesome! In 2012-2013, Holtby moved into full-time NHL duties. He started 36 games while Michael Neuvirth and Philip Grubauer combined for 15 starts. He posted a respectable .920 SV% and a 2.58 GAA. In its entirety, we were blessed with some consistent elite goaltending by Braden Holtby over the last eight years. Here are some notable stats and accolades:

• Holtby won the Vezina Trophy in 2016 as the league’s best goaltender. He finished fourth in Hart Trophy voting and was named an NHL First-Team All-Star. Holtby finished the season with a 48-9-7 record, a 2.20 GAA, a .922 save percentage, and three shutouts.

• 48 wins in 2016 tied Martin Brodeur for most wins in a season all-time NHL History

• Named to five straight All-Star Games from 2016-2020

• Received Hart and Vezina trophy votes in three separate years (2014-2015 through 2016-2017 seasons)

• 2nd in Franchise Wins with 282 wins in 10 seasons. Olaf Kolzig is first with 301 wins over 16 seasons

• Tied for 1st with 35 shutouts for the Capitals. This ranks 55th All-time in the league

• 8th highest playoff SV% in NHL history (.926 SV% in 96 Games Played)

• Stanley Cup Champion 2017-2018

What else is there to say? Why else do you think we call him HoltBEAST?! While there are many memories of Holtby over the years, my favorite has to be “The Save” in game two of the Stanley Cup final. Without this incredible acrobatic save, the Capitals may have fallen down 0-2 in the series. After years and years of playoff disappointment, a 0-2 hole would have been easy ammo for the media to call the Caps chokers again. "The Save" was symbolic. It was that moment where every Caps fan player said to themselves...this is our year. We are the team of destiny and nothing will stop us.

Holtby and his wife Brandi are very active in the community. Most notably they march in the pride parade every year and are strong advocates for the LBGTQ community. In addition, Holtby has spoke out for the Human Rights Campaign and BLM. These actions both on and off the ice are strong reasons why Holtby is beloved by so many fans across the area.

Final years – Following the Stanley Cup run, Holtby slowly start to show signs of age and fatigue. His play on the ice became increasingly more of a liability. He posted a career worse .897 SV% and 3.11 GAA this year and he just didn’t have it. The Capitals being strapped for cash, just could not afford to pay Holtby.

Holtby will ultimately go down as the greatest goaltender to ever wear a Washington Capitals uniform. He gave us many great memories over the years, and it is sad to see him go. I wish Holtby nothing but the best in Vancouver and I hope he returns to form soon. Franchise goalies are hard to find, and the Capitals struck gold with Holtby in the 4th round.

Cheers to Holtby!!!

Thanks for reading
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