Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby had a great year last season, securing the Vezina Trophy and tying Martin Brodeur’s record for most wins in a regular season. How will the star goalie fare this season after his amazing performance last year?
Last season, the Washington Capitals got everything they wanted out of goaltender Braden Holtby and then some, as he proceeded to have a record setting season on his way to securing his first Vezina Trophy award. Even in the post-season, Holtby stood up even when the rest of the team wasn’t performing at the same level he was. For the 2016-2017 season, the Capitals would be glad to have Holtby reproduce his Vezina winning numbers, even if it would be slightly less than what it took to win the award. The only question is whether or not he’ll be able to sustain that level of play for this season.
To figure that out, I’ve taken a look at some of the previous Vezina Trophy winners of years past to determine whether or not the Caps should be worried about a drop-off in production from Holtby. To make this easier, I will go up to when Henrik Lundqvist won his first Vezina Trophy with the New York Rangers in 2011-12 and go from there to see if there is any potential of a drop-off in goalie production.
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A thing all the past four Vezina winners (Lundqvist, Carey Price of Montreal, Sergei Bobrovsky of Columbus, and Tuukka Rask of Boston) have in common is that their goals allowed average does go up slightly. However, Lundqvist and Rask managed to stay consistent in their production, while last season Carey Price only saw a few games and sat out most of the season for the Canadiens due to injury. Bobrovsky was the only one of the four to have a significant drop-off after his Vezina winning season in a shortened season.
As for save percentage, Lundqvist was the best at staying consistent in that department as he never dipped below a .920 percentage since his Vezina win. Rask’s save percentage went down from the .930 he had his winning year to a .915 last season, while Bobrovsky went all the way down to a .908 save percentage compared to his .932 in the 2012-13 season.
What does this mean for Braden Holtby? Well, that is determined whether or not he would be able to consistently produce going into this season. Looking at his all time numbers, Holtby’s GAA has improved over the years and as long as the team around him can play well, so does Holtby. So far in his career, Braden Holtby’s worst season was the one in which the Washington Capitals failed to make the playoffs, as he had a save percentage of .915 and a GAA of 2.85. Ever since that season, though, Holtby has found success in his role as the starting goalie. Part of that might be due to goaltending coach Mitch Korn being hired in 2014, although the talent that Holtby has has always been there.
Still, combining great talent like Holtby’s and great teaching like Korn’s, which was also responsible for the success of former goalie Dominik Hasek, Holtby should manage to maintain his production for the foreseeable future. Given Hasek’s success, which included four Vezina Trophy wins and two Hart Trophies, it is safe to say that as long as Korn is a part of the Capitals coaching staff, then Holtby will have no problem being great in the net for this upcoming season.