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Capitals sign goaltender Holtby to five-year contract

by Katie Brown

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Goalie Braden Holtby re-signed with the Washington Capitals on Friday, getting a five-year, $30.5 million contract.

"Since Day One I've wanted to be the guy in the Washington Capitals net, since I got drafted by them," said Holtby, the 93rd pick in the 2008 NHL Draft. "It doesn't change. I'm just happy to have the opportunity, and like in the past I know I still have to prove it."

Holtby, 25, is the first Capitals goalie signed to a contract of more than three years since Olaf Kolzig's five-year, $31 million extension in August 2001.

Washington will pay Holtby $3.5 million in salary plus a $3 million bonus this season. He'll be paid $7 million each of the next two seasons and $5 million each of the final two seasons.

Braden Holtby
Goalie - WSH
RECORD: 101-51-18
GAA: 2.44 | SVP: .921

Signing Holtby to a long-term contract is a big part of the greater goal for the organization, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said.

"You see what he accomplished last year and the effect he's had on our team," MacLellan said. "He's a perfect fit for what we think we have. He's a good teammate, a good person, and I think he's just touching the surface of what he could become. I think the certainty of having him in our lineup over the next -- whatever time we have, the window to win a championship -- is why we're excited about signing him today."

Holtby, who was a restricted free agent, set NHL career highs in wins (41), shutouts (nine), games played (73), goals-against average (2.22) and save percentage (.923) while making a Capitals-record 1,887 saves last season and tying their record for wins, shutouts and games played. He finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting.

"My goal has always been to win as many games as possible and work toward that goal of a Stanley Cup," Holtby said. "Obviously, we fell short, so we know we need to get better -- myself, our group -- and I think we're doing the right things to do that. I try and focus on my job to win games and accomplish the main goal."

Holtby and the Capitals had a salary arbitration hearing in Toronto on Thursday. The contract was signed 22 hours before the ruling would have come down.

"With every situation there's different adversities you have to go through," Holtby said. "Obviously, with last year, it was trying to prove yourself for a contract. This year, it's trying to prove the contract you got. The low points of seasons are going to be a little harder to get through because of the added pressure, but that's just another challenge I'm looking forward to, to fighting through it and keep improving every single year."

Holtby is the third goaltender in Capitals history to win 100 games (Kolzig, Don Beaupre); he was the fastest to do so (176 games).

Holtby had one shutout, a 1.71 GAA and a .944 save percentage in 13 games during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, ranking first in the NHL in GAA and save percentage (minimum five games played). Washington lost Game 7 to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Second Round after leading that series 3-1.

"As a goalie, you're only as good as your last game," Holtby said. "My job is to just keep pushing forward, keep challenging myself, keep challenging our team and see what we can accomplish."

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