Braden Holtby is having an underrated year, but there’s no denying at this point that he’s an elite talent.
The starting netminder for the Washington Capitals has been a strong factor in the team’s success this year; between Alex Ovechkin‘s continuing dominance on offense and the team’s newfound cohesion under Barry Trotz, Holtby has managed to provide the final piece needed to push the club from a missed playoff year last spring to second in the Metropolitan Division with just a handful of games to go.
With a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, the Capitals starter earned his 100th win in a Capitals uniform — making him the fastest player in franchise history to hit the century milestone. Considering he’s playing on a team with some pretty impressive names tending net in the past — including Vezina winner Olaf Kolzig — that’s an impressive feat to boast.
He has eight shutouts this season, and his GAA is one of the lowest in the league (2.24, tied with Cory Schneider); his save percentage is elite — and likely a league leader in any other season — and he’s only getting better.
For the Capitals, this is fantastic. Although backup Justin Peters hasn’t been what the team hoped for this year, they’ve got a top netminder prospect developing overseas who made an appearance at the 2015 World Junior Championships in Vitek Vanecek. If Holtby can prove in coming seasons that this year isn’t an anomaly — and if he can prove that he’s got the cool and collected demeanor under pressure to succeed in the post-season — the Capitals may be set when it comes to finding that ever-elusive stability in net, both from a starter and a backup.
Going beyond just the wins, though, Holtby brings a sense of calm to the franchise that’s been hungry to see a Stanley Cup since adding Ovechkin to their roster a decade ago; if he’s able to route the quietly lethal Red Wings without a second thought, there’s a good chance he’ll be able to make quick work of a playoff team regardless of the players iced in front of him.