With Pheonix Copley’s new three-year, $3.3 million deal signed Tuesday, Washington’s goaltending situation at the NHL level might get a bit more crowded in the coming years.
Braden Holtby, who is a free agent in 2020, was asked about his impending unrestricted free agent status after Monday’s practice.
“It’s human nature to think about it,” Holtby told Stephen Whyno of the AP. “But outside of maybes, you have no idea. It’s a long ways away. A goaltender’s life can change pretty quickly, so you’ve got to stay in the moment and just play.”
Holtby’s five-year, $30.5 million contract expires at the end of the 2019-20 season, and he’ll be 30 years old once he hits UFA status.
Down on the farm, Vitek Vanecek was named an All-Star for his efforts with the Hershey Bears. Ilya Samsonov, who recorded his first AHL shutout in January and recently had a four-game win streak, is slowly blossoming into the kind of starter the Caps want in the future.
“Probably took him a little while but he’s playing well now, and we feel good about where he’s at,” general manager Brian MacLellan said.
When asked about the impending logjam the Caps could have at the goaltending position, MacLellan said he liked all four goaltenders moving forward.
“I think it’s important for us to have depth as an organization, protect ourselves on injuries,” MacLellan told reporters after Monday’s practice. “You watch the league, when injuries happen you need good guys to come in and play. I feel good about all four of these guys right now.”
There’s also the chance Holtby could leave in free agency for another team if Samosonov is ready in 2020. “It’ll work itself out, I think,” MacLellan said. “We’ll see how Samsonov comes along, and what our situation is, cap-wise, and the signings we make – there are a whole lot of things that go into what happens there.”
MacLellan clarified that the move to sign Copley was to solidify his position as the number two goaltender, but also to prepare for the impending Seattle expansion draft in June 2021. “That’s not the sole consideration, but it is one consideration,” MacLellan said.
Another consideration could be the NHL CBA which expires in 2022, but the NHL and NHLPA have a chance to opt out of the current CBA at the end of 2020, the eight-year mark of the agreement.
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