Monday, September 2, 2019

Braden Holtby Jersey Card

(As per years past, this is a twin-post with my "regular" blog, where I predicted the Washington Capitals would finish first in the Metropolitan Division in 2019-20).

One of the things that could derail the Caps' season is the fact that two of their biggest stars - Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby - are entering the final years of their currents respective contracts, and that Holtby may be looking to increase his $6.1M annual salary (which would, in my opinion, be a huge mistake).

Only one current goalie is worth 10% of his team's salary cap (currently slated at $81.5M, so just north of $8M), and that's Sergei Bobrovsky, the only active two-time Vezina winner (both deserved, by the way, which is something I can rarely say about this award). The rest, because they should be limited to 55-60 games per and because the position itself calls for an inconsistency rate that falls at roughly one bad season per five years, should make between $5M (middle-of-the-pack guys) and $7.5 (Vezina winners and consistent high-level performers, like Tuuka Rask).

Holtby falls a notch below that, so between $6.5M and $7M, as the second-best Canadian goalie behind the oft-injured Corey Crawford. Crawford's been more consistent; you might remember that when the Caps won the Stanley Cup a year ago, he'd been unseated as the #1 by Philipp Grubauer not only for the final stretch of the regular season, but also the first two playoff games.

At age 29, he also just posted two of the worst regular-season stat lines of his career, with a goals-against average of 2.99 and a .907 save percentage in 2017-18 and 2.82 and .911 in 2018-19. The Capitals need to know if this is his new normal or just two outlier seasons in a row before a three- or four-year stretch of back-to-elite play. After all, the 2017-18 season was one where his head coach was Barry Trotz, the best defensive mind in hockey.

In any event, here's Holtby at the height of his powers, fresh off a Vezina win and about to acquire a Jennings Trophy, on card #GJ-BH from Upper Deck's 2016-17 Series 1 set and UD Game Jersey sub-set:
It shows him wearing the Capitals' current red (home) uniform, with a blue game-worn jersey swatch that is probably from the underarm stretch of that Reebok sweater.

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