Vancouver Canucks: Breaking down Braden Holtby signing

The Vancouver Canucks make it official with Braden Holtby

Former Washington Capital and ten-year veteran goaltender Braden Holtby signed with the Vancouver Canucks early in the NHL’s free agency period which began Friday at noon EST. Minutes before the signing was announced, it was revealed that Vancouver would not re-sign goalie Jacob Markstrom. The Canucks deal with Holtby is a two-year deal worth  $4.3 million annually.

Holtby won the Vezina trophy in 2016, and the Jennings trophy in 2017 and was an All-Star in each of those seasons. He has been a cornerstone of the Capitals success in the Ovechkin era which is topped off with a 2018 Stanley Cup Victory. The Capitals could not afford to re-sign him in this flat cap year. The emergence of Ilya Samsonov made it an easier pill to swallow.

Statistically, Holtby has been in decline since those seasons. This is including Washington’s Stanley Cup year when his save percentage dropped from .925 to .907. In Holtby’s first seven seasons his save percentage only dipped under .920 once. While in the past three seasons his highest save percentage was .911, including a .897 last season. In case you need context, a .897 save percentage is good for 64th among all goalies that played in the NHL.

Braden Holtby to the Vancouver Canucks makes perfect sense

Goaltending is difficult to predict and very streaky. Holtby, who has been one of the best goalies of the past decade, was only a fourth-round draft choice.

While last year’s biggest goaltending free agent, Sergei Bobrovsky, who signed in Florida for seven years and $70 million had a very disappointing .900 save percentage in his first year with the Panthers.

As for a goalie over performing, just reference Anton Khudobin who helped carry Dallas to game six of the Stanley Cup finals with a .917 save percentage in relief of starter Ben Bishop.

One could argue that a goalie’s save percentage is not the end all be all of a goaltending performance. I can understand that, you do have to consider the defense in front of a goalie. But if a goalie is not stopping pucks why is that goalie on the ice. All goalies are subject to inconsistency, Holtby has not been inconsistent. He has been steadily in decline.

Despite this, the 31-year-old, in tandem with Thatcher Demko on the up and coming Vancouver Canucks the deal makes sense. It is only a two-year deal. Holtby does bring plenty of experience and success under his belt. And in a league where we are seeing more and more teams succeed with goalie tandems who split time more evenly the deal is low risk and could prove to be an excellent fit.