Former Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had his worst statistical season as a pro with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2020-21 season. Serving as Thatcher Demko’s backup, Holtby posted a 7-11-3 record with a 3.67 goals against average and a .889 save percentage.
But hours before NHL teams must submit their protection lists for the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft (5 PM), the Holtbeast is reportedly a coveted player as some league GMs see value in the 2018 Stanley Cup champion as both a player and a leader in the locker room. Holtby’s season stats also seem skewed when considering how dysfunctional and bad defensively Vancouver was.
With the Canucks planning to protect Demko, who they signed to a five-year, $25 million extension during the season, Holtby’s exposure in the Expansion Draft has long been a foregone conclusion.
On Friday, @DhaliwalSports tweeted that eight teams have called Vancouver on Holtby.
— Donnie & Dhali (@DonnieandDhali) July 16, 2021
Later that night, The Athletic reported that at least one Eastern Conference team and one Western Conference team were believed to be interested in acquiring Holtby. Sources suggested to The Athletic that the Seattle Kraken inquired about a possible side deal to see if they could get Vancouver to cover some of Holtby’s salary for draft pick compensation.
Holtby has one year remaining in a two-year, $8.6 million contract he signed with Vancouver in October 2020. While he’s scheduled to make $5.7 million in salary next season, Holtby’s cap hit is only $4.3 million – a palatable and intriguing option for an expansion team or another club looking for a possible starter or solid backup next season.
In 468 games with the Capitals, Holtby won 282 games, the 2016 Vezina Trophy, and the 2018 Stanley Cup. He also tied Martin Brodeur for the most wins in NHL history during a single season and made one of the greatest saves of all time.
Update: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting that “all signs point to” Chris Driedger being one of the Seattle Kraken’s goalies next season. Driedger, as a backup to Sergei Bobrovsky in Florida, had a 2.06 GAA and a .927 save percentage in 23 regular-season games last year. He did not fare as well in three playoff games (3.69 GAA and .871 S%).
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 17, 2021
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