Braden Holtby is leaving the Washington Capitals after eight seasons as their key goalie. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)
- The Vancouver Canucks have +3000 odds after signing free agent Braden Holtby to replace Jacob Markstrom
- Markstrom was signed to be the Calgary Flames No. 1 goalie
- See the Stanley Cup odds and read the goalie analysis after Day 1 of the 2020 NHL Free Agency
Unable to re-sign Jacob Markstrom, the Vancouver Canucks signed veteran Braden Holtby for two years at $4.3 million per season to play regularly and mentor prize prospect, Thatcher Demko.
Holtby helped the Washington Capitals win a Stanley Cup championship in 2018 and Markstrom has never won the Cup. With a condensed schedule, Holtby and Demko should make a deadly duo.
The Canucks’ championship odds are +3000 at Stanley Cup Odds.
2021 Stanley Cup Odds
|Vegas Golden Knights||+950|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+950|
|St. Louis Blues||+1800|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+1900|
|New York Islanders||+2600|
|New York Rangers||+2600|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+3800|
|San Jose Sharks||+4000|
|Los Angeles Kings||+5500|
|New Jersey Devils||+5500|
|Detroit Red Wings||+11000|
Odds taken Oct. 9 at FanDuel.
Canucks liked Holtby’s Championship Pedigree
The talent-laden Canucks believe they are close to contending for the Stanley Cup Championship. They decided they needed a goalie who has already climbed that mountain.
When they couldn’t re-sign Jacob Markstrom, GM Jim Benning turned to Holtby who has a championship ring and considerable playoff experience.
In 96 playoff appearances, Holtby has a 2.13 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. By contrast, Markstrom. By contrast, Markstrom, 30, has played 14 playoff games. The worry about Holtby, 31 is that he hasn’t looked as sharp in the past year of competition.
Holtby is known as a character player, an athlete who is active in the community. He was popular with his Washington teammates. He will be a quality mentor for young Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko.
OFFICIAL: #Canucks sign goaltender Braden Holtby (@Holts170) to a two-year contract worth an average annual value of $4.3 million. https://t.co/d245fXXB7i
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) October 9, 2020
Holtby’s Exit Opens Door for Lundqvist
GM Brian MacLellan is prepared for Holtby’s departure. In fact, this might be the perfect timing for talented Ilya Samsonov to be the No. 1 goalie. Last season, Holtby played 48 games and Samsonov played 26. It was clear Samsonov was the better goalie.
Samsonov posted a 2.55 goals-against average, compared to Holtby’s 3.11 GAA. Samsonov’s .913 save percentage also was better than Holtby’s career-low .897.
If Samsonov hadn’t been injured in an accident, he might have been the Capitals’ goalie in the recently-completely playoffs. The Caps are bringing in Henrik Lundqvist to mentor Samsonov. Given that Washington is a prime contender, this is an important goalie signing. Lundqvist, 38, may play more games than we think.
Confirmed. Henrik Lundqvist is going to sign with the Washington Capitals on Friday. Samsonov-Lundqvist should be very good tandem. pic.twitter.com/QuKUFsJkZC
— Andy & Rono 📊 (@HockeyStatsCZ) October 7, 2020
Flames Considered Markstrom Market’s Top Goalie
Markstrom’s strong play this season was considered a major reason why the Canucks were among the NHL’s most surprising success stories. The 6-foot-6 goalie was 23-16 with a .918 save percentage on a young team that hasn’t learned to play effective defense.
It was Markstrom’s consistency that saved the Canucks on many nights. The Flames, who have suffered from goalie inconsistency in recent years, watched Markstrom closely and decided to make every effort to sign him in the free-agent market.
Matt Murray was traded to the Senators earlier this week and set the bar for free agent goalies, after signing a four-year, $25 million extension with Ottawa. Markstrom followed in his footsteps. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Markstrom received a six-year deal at an average of $6 million per season.
This move is a significant upgrade to the team’s goaltending and should improve their chances of winning the Stanley Cup. The only concern is that Markstrom hasn’t played much with winning teams. His career record is 110-118-32.
In seven seasons since Kiprusoff retired, Calgary has used 13 goalies — Rittich, Ramo, Smith, Hiller, Elliott, Johnson, Ortio, Talbot, Berra, MacDonald, Gillies, Backstrom, Lack.
Is the GM tired of pursuing goalies every off-season? Can’t blame him. Markstrom would change that.
— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) October 9, 2020
Khudobin Opts to Stay in Dallas
After saying he was going to test the free-agent marketplace, Khudobin decided to accept the Dallas Stars’ offer of $10 million for three seasons. It was his reward for playing brilliantly in the Stars’ march to the Stanley Cup Final.
Khudobin, 34, has been a back-up most of his career, but it’s not unthinkable that he could challenge Ben Bishop to be the regular next-season.
With Khodobin back in Dallas at a big price for a “backup” what becomes of Ben Bishop?
What becomes of young Jake Ottinger?
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) October 9, 2020
At +3000, Canucks Could Be a Fun Bet
When the St. Louis Blues won the Cup in 2019, a man in St. Louis won $100,000 because he laid a $400 bet on his hometown team to win the Stanley Cup. At the time, the Blues were struggling. His odds were 250/1.
With Holtby in net, the Canucks (+3000) might be a team worth laying that kind of bet. They have a team boasting a collection of skilled young stars, such as Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Brock Boeser, and Bo Horvat among others.
2021 Stanley Cup Odds Tracker
The Canucks’ odd should improve if they add defensive help. The Flames’ odds may also improve if they also acquire a blue chip defenseman.
The move to Vancouver might re-energize Holtby. When he was at the top of his game, he had a winning aura. The likely scenario is the Canucks will be ready in two seasons. But if Holtby can bolster this team’s confidence, the Canucks could be an intriguing long-shot.
Kevin Allen has covered most major events, including the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final. He covered the NHL for USA Today from 1986-2020, receiving the Lester Patrick Award in 2013 and was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014 with the Elmer Ferguson Award.