After months of going back and forth, the Washington Capitals made the decision yesterday that Philipp Grubauer will be the teams #1 goalie when their playoff run begins tomorrow.
For some, that decision comes as a complete shock. Holtby has been the teams’ starter for essentially all of the last five years, and now as the Capitals embark on another playoff run, he will be on the bench.
For those who follow the team closely and have looked at the numbers, the decision to go with Grubauer tomorrow against Columbus is almost expected and is probably the right call.
Since January 1st of this season, Grubauer numbers have been far better than Holtby’s.
Grubauer has appeared in 22 games since the calendar turned to 2018 and has posted a 0.931 SV% to go with a 2.14 GAA.
Holtby, on the other hand, has played in 24 games, producing a 0.894 SV% and a 3.46 GAA.
When you look at just the numbers, there’s no question who the Caps should between the pipes. Grubauer has been one of the best goalies in the NHL over that time frame. In fact, of goalies who have appeared in at least 20 games since January 1st, only Antti Raanta has a better SV% and GAA.
Grubauer has simply been on an incredible run, and he should be rewarded for it.
When I look at this situation, it’s not only going to be a storyline during Washington’s playoff run, but it will continue to linger into the offseason when the organization has some important decisions to make.
There’s no doubt the team will want to bring back John Carlson, instead of letting him walk for free as a UFA, but to do that they will need to clear up cap space.
If Grubauer continues his stellar play into the postseason, Washington might look at Braden Holtby and his $6.1 million price tag as an unnecessary cost. Grubauer is an RFA, but there’s no doubt he would come much cheaper.
Holtby would bring back a massive haul since he is a proven franchise goalie with the numbers and Vezina nominations to back it up. But with Grubauer proving his worth and prized prospect Ilya Samsonov likely jumping to North America, they’re in a position where a gamble on the future would make sense.
If Holtby is made available, there will be no shortage of teams interested. The Flyers are always in search of a goalie; the Flames would likely be interested as would the Buffalo Sabres.
Now there is also a chance that Grubauer struggles and Holtby takes over and wins a series of the Capitals and Grubauer is the one dealt come June, but given the team’s decision to sit their veteran starter, you have to think there’s a chance they make a big move this summer.