The second part of a series that, with the help of the Stars and Sticks community of writers and readers and Washington Capitals fans, will put together a Washington Capitals All-Time team. To vote for the defensemen, click here.
The Washington Capitals have had an interesting history with goalies. Going into their 40th season, the Capitals have had 45 goalies play for them. Only 11 of them played or have played in 100 regular season games for the Capitals.
Despite that, the Washington Capitals have had several pretty darn good goalies. While they haven’t had anyone of the caliber of Patrick Roy or Dominik Hasek, they’ve had a few pretty darn good goalies who, while not outstanding, were extremely important members of their respective teams.
There are four nominees for the Washington Capitals All-Time Team goalies: Olaf Kolzig, Jim Carey, Semyon Varlamov, and Braden Holtby. You can vote for up to two. The criteria for voting is completely up to you.
Olaf Kolzig played 16 seasons for the Washington Capitals from 1990 to 2008. He has been involved in the Washington Capitals organization for most of his post-retirement life in a variety of roles, including as a goalie coach and as an ambassador of sorts. He is also extremely active in the DC community, which is why he is a fan favorite.
While Kolzig never put up sexy numbers while in net, Kolzig was extremely consistent and reliable. His career stats:
- 719 games (711 with the Washington Capitals, 8 with the Lightning)
- 303 wins, 297 losses, 87 ties/overtime losses
- 90.6% save percentage
- 2.71 GAA
- 35 shutouts
Kolzig won two awards during his career. In the 1999-2000 season, he won a Vezina trophy with a save percentage of 91.7%, a GAA of 2.24, and leading all NHL goaltenders in shots faced and saves. In the 2005-2006 season, he won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which is given to the player who best exemplifies leadership and humanitarianism. His best season was probably his 1997-1998 season, when he set career highs in save percentage (92.0%), and GAA (2.20) as he led the Washington Capitals to their first and only Stanley Cup appearance.
No, not the actor. It’s OK, I made that mistake too when I first heard his name as a kid! Carey’s career with the Washington Capitals only lasted 139 games, but he made a huge impact in those 139 games. Carey made his NHL debut at the ripe young age of 20 during the 1994-1995 season. In 28 games, he went 18-6-3 with a save percentage of .913 and a GAA of 2.13.
The next season, he won the Vezina Trophy as he went 35-24-9 with a save percentage of .906 and a GAA of 2.26. Midway through the 1996-1997 season, he was traded to the Boston Bruins in the trade that brought Adam Oates to the Washington Capitals.
While Carey’s career with the Washington Capitals was very short, he holds the Washington Capitals single season record in shutouts (nine in 1995-1996) and owns two of the five lowest single season GAAs (lowest in 1994-1995, fifth lowest in 1995-1996) in franchise history.
It’s hard to judge Semyon Varlamov’s numbers as a Washington Capital because he only played 59 games with them before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche. However, Varlamov put up extremely impressive numbers in those 59 games. He went 30-13-12 in those 59 games with a save percentage of 91.7% and a GAA of 2.61. He was limited to 59 games due to injuries. The emergence of Michal Neuvirth made the Washington Capitals’ decision between paying Varlamov the money that he wanted or trading him an easy one.
He was traded to the Avalanche for a first round pick (used to draft Filip Forsberg, who was later traded for Martin Erat) and a second round pick that the Capitals eventually traded to Dallas for Mike Ribeiro. Judging by his recent success, that trade didn’t work out so well for the Washington Capitals.
His best season was 2010-2011. In 27 games that season, Varlamov set the Capitals’ single season save percentage record (92.4%) and had the third lowest single season GAA (2.23) in Capitals history.
If you’re voting solely based on hair, Holtby wins in a landslide. Holtby’s tenure with the Washington Capitals has basically been one long and thrilling (and not in a good way) roller coaster ride. He came up to the NHL for good in 2011-2012. After playing in seven regular season games that season, due to injuries to both Tomas Vokoun and Neuvirth, the Washington Capitals were forced to start Holtby against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
Holtby performed beautifully against the Bruins, leading the Caps to an upset in seven games. He performed extremely well against the New York Rangers in the second round, and had the Washington Capitals not had an anemic offense, they might have made another Stanley Cup appearance. In 14 playoff games, Holtby went 7-7 with a save percentage of 93.5% and a microscopic GAA of 1.95.
He rebounded from a rough start in 2012-2013 to finish with a 23-12-1 record with a 92.0% save percentage and a 2.58 GAA. The GAA doesn’t look good at first glance, but consider the save percentage and the fact that he faced 31.19 shots per game. His roller coaster ride went way down hill during the 2013-2014 season. Despite being bounced around from starter to backup multiple times, Holtby managed to pull off a respectable season with a 91.5% save percentage and a 2.85 GAA. What’s more telling is that he faced 0.56 shots per minute on the ice. He was a victim of a horrible defense.
I think Holtby deserves credit for playing admirably despite never having a defense that could actually, you know, prevent shots on goal. I’m extremely excited to see what he does this season with a much improved defense.
Cast Your Vote
Time to vote! Remember, you can vote for up to two goalies. The two goalies who receive the most votes will move on to a vote off to determine who the starter is. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments! Voting ends on September 1st at 11:59 PM!