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Holtby is No. 1 goalie for Capitals, GM says

Gives vote of confidence to veteran with backup Samsonov getting more playing time

by NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Braden Holtby and Ilya Samsonov have split starts recently for the Washington Capitals, but general manager Brian MacLellan said the team does not have a goalie controversy.

"Holtby's our guy. I mean, he's got a Cup, he has a history, he's been a huge part of our organization," MacLellan told Sportsnet on Wednesday. "He's our No. 1 guy. I think what we've been trying to do is develop Samsonov and he's handled everything we've thrown at him very well. He's continually gotten better, he works at his game, he's calm under pressure."

Holtby is 18-7-4 with a 2.99 goals-against average and .902 save percentage in 30 games. Samsonov, a rookie, is 12-2-1 with a 2.24 GAA and .921 save percentage in 16 games (14 starts).

"Our team's about Holtby but we're developing Samsonov and trying to do what's best for both guys and hopefully they're both healthy and we can use both down the stretch and into the (Stanley Cup) playoffs," MacLellan said on "Hockey Central at Noon.

Video: NYI@WSH: Holtby makes nifty glove save on Kuhnhackl

Holtby has spent 10 seasons with the Capitals and has won at least 32 games in each of the past five seasons from 2014-19. The 30-year-old, who helped Washington win the Stanley Cup in 2018 winning 16 games in the playoffs, can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Samsonov, who turns 23 on Feb. 22, was selected by the Capitals in the first round (No. 22) of the 2015 NHL Draft, has been viewed as their goalie of the future. He and Holtby are a big reason the Capitals have the best record in the NHL at 30-9-5.

MacLellan also said he'd like to keep as much of the team as he can together. Center Nicklas Backstrom can also become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

"Maybe we do have to make some difficult decisions, but maybe we find a way to get it done too through a trade or a way to create some room," he said. "I think we'll have to play it out, see how well we do at the end of this year and then make decisions off that."

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