The Washington Capitals introduced new head coach Peter Laviolette on Tuesday afternoon. General manager Brian MacLellan, who was also on the call, took the final question of the press conference and was asked about Braden Holtby’s future with the team.
Holtby, the greatest goaltender in Capitals’ history, is an unrestricted free agent and it appears more and more unlikely he will return.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) September 15, 2020
“I would expect him to go to free agency,” MacLellan said. “I think the goalie market is probably a little unusually deep this year. I talked to his agent last week briefly about where he’s at and the kind of opportunities he’s looking for. I would assume he goes to free agency and we’ll keep in contact with him throughout the free agency and see if he’s getting what he wants.”
MacLellan appears to be signaling that unless the team can get a deal on Holtby, the team will run with Ilya Samsonov as the starter next season.
Previously, in late August, MacLellan said that bringing back Holtby “is going to be difficult” and that some “tough decisions” would be made in the offseason. Due to a flat salary cap, the Capitals will not have much wiggle room to improve their team through free agency.
“It’s gonna be tight,” MacLellan said then. “It’s gonna be hard for cap teams to complete their lineup, to create depth in their lineup. We do have a little room to make some signings. So we’re going to see what happens with the trade market at the draft and then proceed through free agency and try to do the best job we can.”
After the Capitals were eliminated by the New York Islanders in the first round of the playoffs, Holtby admitted that he might have played his final game with the team.
“Certainly a chance it is,” Holtby said. “But who knows. You live one day at a time and go from there. More right now it’s just, this [loss] is going to sting a little bit.”
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