With Braden Holtby an unrestricted free agent next Wednesday, many Capitals fans were hoping that the Holtbeast would return to the team that he won the Stanley Cup with in 2018.
Not only does that seem unlikely, but Holtby’s career may in fact be over. The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported the news during the DFO Rundown Podcast.
During a discussion about the Dallas Stars and Jake Oettinger’s breakout season, Seravalli broke into the conversation to say, “Braden Holtby is unlikely to play next season, his career may be over.”
Behind-the-scenes, Holtby appears to have been dealing with a nagging lower-body injury for much of the 2021-22 season. The Vezina Trophy winner’s final appearance of the season was on March 4 against the Winnipeg Jets where he played the entire game and stopped 39 of 42 shots in the overtime victory.
Between a span of January 28 and March 4, Holtby played in only three games for the Stars, including giving up five goals against his beloved Capitals in Dallas.
After being held out for 10 days, Holtby tried to return to practice on March 14 but left after 10 minutes on the ice.
“His lower-body injury is still bothering him,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said according to the Dallas Morning News’ Matthew DeFranks. “He’ll do what he can in practice and we go from there. We’re just kind of leaving it up to him, push himself as far as he can. When he starts to aggravate it, get off the ice.”
The Stars acquired goaltender Scott Wedgewood a week later at the trade deadline to be their backup.
🚨 TRADE ALERT 🚨
We have acquired Scott Wedgewood via trade from @ArizonaCoyotes in exchange for a 2023 conditional 4th round draft pick.
Details » https://t.co/Gcrz7SDO9e
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 21, 2022
Holtby, 32, was placed on long term injured reserve and stayed there for the rest of the season. Holtby was reported to doing off-ice workouts at the end of the year.
Despite making only 24 appearances, Holtby was honored at the end of the year by the NHL for making the save of the season.
If this is the end for Holtby, he will retire as the greatest goaltender in Capitals history and one of the franchise’s greatest and most beloved players.
Holtby was one of the best goalies in the entire NHL during the 2010s, forging an unlikely and sensational career after being a fourth round pick in 2008.
- Holtby played a league-high 73 games and 4,247 minutes during the in 2014-15 season and had nine shutouts.
- Holtby won the Vezina Trophy in 2016 as the league’s best goaltender. He finished fourth in Hart Trophy voting and was named an NHL First-Team All-Star. Holtby finished the season with a 48-9-7 record, a 2.20 GAA, a .922 save percentage, and three shutouts.
- Holtby’s 48 victories that season tied him with Martin Brodeur for the most wins in a single season in NHL history.
- Holtby made The Save in Game Two of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final and led the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup.
- Holtby was named to five NHL All-Star Games (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020).
- Holtby won the 2017 William M. Jennings Trophy for giving up the fewest goals in the NHL.
- Overall he received votes for the Hart Trophy and Vezina Trophy three different years.
But it was Holtby’s activism and work in the community that made him special for many in this area.
Per our Braden Holtby appreciation post in 2020:
Holtby donated his time and money to help build a gym for kids at Hendley Elementary School in DC’s Ward 8. He helped raise money for tens of thousands of meals during the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2016, he became the first Capitals player to ever walk in the DC Pride Parade and has continued the tradition every year the hockey schedule has allowed him to.
In February 2017, Holtby was named the Caps’ LGBTQ-inclusion ambassador by the NHL, serving as a leader in the locker room and in the community on diversity, equality, and inclusion. Holtby also raised thousands of dollars for You Can Play after wearing a custom-designed mask during Hockey Is For Everyone month. For his dedication to the cause, Holtby received the DC Pride Ally Award. Holtby also spoke at the 2018 Human Rights Campaign’s National Dinner and was one of a handful of Capitals players who skipped the team’s White House celebration with President Trump.
“In the end I never really came up with a situation where I would feel comfortable going,” Holtby said March 2019. “My family and myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect regardless of your stature, what you’re born into. So I think that’s just where it’s at in terms of this decision. You’re asked to choose which side you’re on and I hope it’s pretty clear what side I’m on.”
So, from the very bottom of my heart, if this is indeed the end, let me start the chant.
Thank you, Holt-by.
Headline photo: Amanda Bowen/RMNB