By Chris Gordon
Photo: Bruce Bennett
It was more of a coronation than a surprise. At the 2016 NHL Awards here at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, a dapper Braden Holtby strode up on stage to receive the Vezina Trophy as “the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position” in the 2015-16 regular-season by the league’s general managers. He beat out fellow finalists Ben Bishop (35-21-4, 2.06 goals-against average, .926 save percentage) and Jonathan Quick (40-23-5, 2.22 goals-against average, .916 save percentage).
Vezina voting not close: pic.twitter.com/XRlAN01Dur
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 23, 2016
Holtby was also up for the Ted Lindsay Award, which is given to the league’s MVP as voted on by the players. That trophy ultimately went to Patrick Kane. The Caps netminder also finished fourth in Hart Trophy voting.
The top five vote-getters for the Hart Trophy, won by @88PKane of the @NHLBlackhawks. #NHLAwards pic.twitter.com/bHYQGjzrIb
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 23, 2016
Holtby had a magisterial campaign this past season, notching 48 wins, which tied Devils legend Martin Brodeur for the most in NHL history. Holtby set his mark in 66 games while Brodeur took 78 contests to reach the record.
In the Adam Oates era, Holtby was forced to play a conservative style and his play suffered as a result. For a time, he ended up as the Capitals’ third-string goalie. But in the last two seasons under Barry Trotz, Holtby has become one of the NHL’s stars. Holtby was the Capitals’ best player throughout the regular-season and the playoffs, something his teammates were always willing to point out.
Holtby’s 48 wins, naturally, also broke Washington’s franchise record for wins in a season, which must of been heartbreaking for the previous record holder — Braden Holtby. Braden had 41 wins during 2014-15 campaign.
From November 12, 2015 to January 14, 2016, a span of over two months, Holtby did not suffer a regulation loss, going 20-0-2. It was only the second point streak of 22 or more games in the last 20 years in the NHL. Oddly enough, former Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore posted a 23 game points streak (20-0-3) during the 2009-10 season. Washington went on to win the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular-season team in both years.
A fourth round pick in 2008, Holtby has a career record of 149-60-25 with a 2.37 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 244 games. Since the start of the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the 26-year-old ranks first among all NHL goalies with 135 wins and is tied for second in shutouts with 20.
The Saskatchewan native ranks first in Capitals franchise history in save percentage and goal-against average. He is also second in career wins and shutouts — and he’s not going anywhere soon. Holtby’s contract is not up until 2021.
The Caps have a superstar in net. And he’s also a pretty cool guy.
“With the way I got nominated, the wins is the big number,” Holtby told RMNB on the red carpet before the Awards Show. “That’s really cool to me to be able to share it. It’s an individual award that takes a whole team to get.”
Holtbeast is Holtbest https://t.co/zU6fSpyBUe pic.twitter.com/RJru6mfW7j
— RMNB (@russianmachine) June 23, 2016
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