Capitals GM: Re-signing Holtby will be 'difficult,' but no decision made

Mark Blinch / National Hockey League / Getty

Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan acknowledges that bringing Braden Holtby back won't be easy, and he says a decision regarding the goaltender's future hasn't been made.

"Still to be decided," MacLellan told reporters after firing head coach Todd Reirden on Sunday. "I think it's going to be difficult, but sometimes opportunities come up that you don't expect, and I think we'd like to play it out and see what happens here."

Holtby, a pending unrestricted free agent, has spent his entire 10-year career with Washington. He's in the final season of the five-year, $30.5-million pact the puck-stopper inked with the club in 2015.

The netminder, who will turn 31 in September, backstopped the Capitals to a Stanley Cup championship in 2018, but he's been mostly mediocre since. Holtby went 25-14-6 in 48 games this season while authoring a paltry .897 save percentage along with a minus-16.76 goals saved above average.

He posted a 2-6 record in the 2019-20 playoffs - including the round-robin stage - producing a pedestrian .906 save percentage over those eight contests.

McLellan also noted Sunday that Ilya Samsonov, the team's potential goaltender of the future, is expected to be ready for training camp. The 23-year-old didn't join his teammates in the Toronto bubble this postseason after suffering an injury beforehand.

Samsonov outplayed Holtby during the regular season, albeit over a smaller sample size. The rookie went 16-6-2 with a .913 save percentage and a 2.3 GSAA across 26 games.

The Capitals have nearly $71 million in team salary committed for 2020-21, when the salary cap will remain stagnant at $81.5 million. Holtby is currently carrying a cap hit of $6.1 million, and a handful of other Capitals players are slated to become either restricted or unrestricted free agents.

Capitals GM: Re-signing Holtby will be 'difficult,' but no decision made
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