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Part of signing Peters was about sending ‘right message to Holtby’

Jul 6, 2014, 9:49 PM EDT

Braden Holtby Getty Images

The Washington Capitals made it clear weeks before the start of the free agent period that they intended to enter the 2014-15 campaign with Braden Holtby as their number one goaltender. They proved that to him though when they decided to sign Justin Peters over some of veteran alternatives with experience as a starter.

“We talked about that a lot,” Capitals GM Brian MacLellan told CSN Washington. “A lot of it was we wanted to send the right message to Holtby.

“… I mean, if you bring in an older, experienced guy it’s going to cost us more money and it might have been a little more pressure on Holtby. We wanted to send a message to Holtby that he’s our No. 1 guy.”

MacLellan argued that he still got a good backup in Peters, who had a 2.50 GAA and .919 save percentage in 21 games with Carolina last season, but there’s no goalie controversy going into the season. That’s a bold move after Holtby struggled last season, which led to rookie call-up Philipp Grubauer stealing time from him and prompted the Capitals to acquire Jaroslav Halak.

Holtby felt his struggles were partially due to former head coach Adam Oates desire to have him play deeper in the crease and MacLellan has echoed that sentiment. Now the general manager is betting heavily on the idea that Holtby can bounce back.

  1. feedmetherock - Jul 6, 2014 at 10:25 PM

    Why? Holtby is a second tier starter in this league. They are still grasping at straws trying to relive some of those playoff runs. Problem though, he sucks in the regular season, which leads to the problem that they might not make the playoffs for him to go on another run. Grubauer showed that he can compete in the NHL, not sure what is wrong with having an open competition in camp. Especially since Holtby is far from a legit #1 in the league.

    • capsnbohs23 - Jul 6, 2014 at 10:44 PM

      Grubauer played 17 games in the NHL so far and he showed he can compete? pretty small sample size there and Holtby is not far from a #1, he has yet to play in front of a solid defense with last year probably being the worst.

      • feedmetherock - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:06 AM

        Not disagreeing that the defense was bad, but Holtby did threw his team under the bus last November. Meanwhile Grubauer was able to put up significantly better statistics behind that same defense. I just don’t get why you don’t have an open competition? There isn’t any harm in it. Holtby is a fringe starter in the league that is at a make or break point in his career. Grubauer was solid in his brief cameo, why not see if he is the real deal. The team is built to win now, and potentially wasting another season while Holtby makes excuses for his mediocre play probably isn’t the best way to achieve that.

      • forsch31 - Jul 7, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        Because Grubauer isn’t ready yet. The Capitals want him to remain in Hershey to continue to develop and be the call-up in case of injury.

        Also, Adam Oates forced Holtby to change his style and approach last season. That caused the Capitals to fire longtime goalie coach Dave Prior in October, because Prior disagreed with what Oates was doing to Holtby. Toward the end of the season, Holtby and Olie Kolzig finally dropped what Oates was trying to do and got back to the way Holtby was used to playing, and Hotlby’s stats finally got better, and he finished with a .915 save percentage despite a horrendous December.

        Holtby is a young, talented goaltender, and calling him a “fringe starter” based on last season isn’t accurate. A fringe starter doesn’t finish in the top 10 for even strength save percentage among starters (30 or more starts). He’s a guy who got screwed and tattooed by a head coach who believed he knew everybody’s job and micromanaged players.

  2. LampyB - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    Agreed, not only was last years D atrocious for the Caps, he began to struggle and Oates creates a free for all in net. Holtby grab and halak had no idea where they stood, and halak was even rumored to be pissed at oates for the inconsistency and insulting him publicly.

    Oates was garbage, new era in washington and holtby deserves a chance to get back into form with some consistency and being fully backed by the team.

  3. pr0jecktpat - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    It will be interesting to see what Korn can do with Holtby. I think the intensity Holtby has is something that can help and hinder his game. Korn will do a good job of helping him find that middle ground by providing some elite level teaching skills. The guy helped make some seriously good goalies over the years, the best being Hasek.

    Bringing in Peters lets Grubauer hone his skills in the AHL. Grubauer looked good in his limited time, but he is still very young (like Holtby) but needs more development. I’d rather have Grubauer play a full slate in the AHL than play 20-30 games in the NHL this season. Peters is a competent backup who is better than his numbers imply.

    In the end it is never a bad thing to have a lot of goaltending talent. If Holtby doesn’t workout they have a possible replacement with Grubauer eventually, or if Holtby ends up blooming this season in to the goaltender we have seen flashes of in the past, then the Caps can move Grubauer if need be.

    I trust Korn will do what he does and he will make some major improvements to Holtby’s game.

  4. pj608 - Jul 7, 2014 at 2:52 AM

    Holtby gets a lot of heat from his team letting him down in the defensive zone and giving up turnovers in neutral ice and in their offensive zone when his team his too lazy to back check. When he plays he is on fire but you cant expect him to play like a mad man every night. Great goalie, bad team

  5. rsl22 - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    There are a lot of Holtby lovers out today, but he’s been mediocre except for one series against Boston. He’s got an ugly glove hand, and makes stupid plays with the puck. He also let’s more goals in from the goal line than any other goalie.

    He has a better defense in from of him, so now he has no excuse. I’ll be surprised if he’s got a long career in DC.

    • capsnbohs23 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      those dumb holtby lovers, how dare someone like a guy on the team they root for.

      • rsl22 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        I’m a Caps fan, but I’ve seen Varlamov, Neuvirth, and Halak all leave so that the anointed one–Braden Holtby–could have the net all to himself. If he’s not a top 5 goalie in the league with the defense in front of him playing Trotz’s system, it’ll be hard to justify paying him #1 goalie money when he’s an UFA at the end of the season.

    • storminator16 - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      “He has a better defense in from of him, so now he has no excuse.”

      Thumbs up for that alone. With that said, Caps fans are about to get sorely disappointed. Holtby is not the answer.

  6. krebsy34 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Mitch Korn is one of the best goalie coaches in the world. If he thought Holtby displayed any of the negative qualities all of you posters think he has, then Holtby wouldn’t be on the squad.

    • feedmetherock - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      Not even remotely true.. he has one more year of control before the Caps have to make a decision on him.. He has shown flashes of being good, but he is inconsistent, and has shown a willingness to blame others when things aren’t going well.. Ryan Miller posted better numbers behind a worse team in Buffalo. Holtby ranked 41st in GAA among qualifying goalies, and 23rd in Save%. He is a mediocre goalie at best. So to anoint him the chosen one before the season even started is silly. Holtby literally has zero fear of losing his starting spot if he plays awful.

      • feedmetherock - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        And by not remotely true, I mean you don’t dump a goalie for the sake of dumping a goalie. I think they should see who is the best in camp and role with them. Plenty of guys hang around despite being fringe guys. So yes, he could still be on the squad despite a lack of faith in him.

  7. ludacrish05 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    No one seems to understand that Oates made Kolzig play their goalies deep in the net, it wasn’t holtbys game. He’ll he better next season with the new goalie coaches. Oates is a lot to blame for our guys not producing, hence why people bash on green too. Numbers don’t lie with the coaching

    • storminator16 - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      It is always easy to blame the coach, defensemen, etc, etc but Holtby has always struggled with consistency. Going back to his time in Hershey, he has his fair share of stretches of being average or below that. Remember, it is o.k. to think the player isn’t as good as we may think he is.

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