NHL Rookie Preview: Braden Holtby
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Braden Holtby had a memerable 2012 NHL playoff run. Labled as the Washington Capitals third goalie heading into the playoffs, injuries forced Holtby into a starting role, something the Caps would not regret. The Capitals upset the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in 7 games, but would be defeated by the Rangers in 7 games in round two. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic showing for the flexible young goaltender.
Holtby has the prototypical size that scouts look for in a goalie and is a sound technical goalie that plays a butterfly style. His positioning and top of the net awareness are sometimes an issue as he’s been beaten by high shots at times. He has an above average glove hand and displays strong athleticism in net. Holtby has the stamina and conditioning level to handle a big workload – he was one of the busiest goalies in terms of shots and minutes played during his junior career. In terms of intangibles, whether it is just a matter of having been in the right place on strong teams or that he elevates the play of the team around him, Holtby has won a lot of games the past two seasons. In several NHL games, showed the fiery, competitive side of his game and his will to win. Holtby will be an effective NHL netminder at some point in his career.
As is typical of many young goalies, he can be inconsistent at times. Neuvirth is expected to be the Caps long term starting goalie, but in most scouts eyes Holtby is better, but Neuvy’s experience really gives him an advantage. He needs more work on his lateral mobility and general quickness in the crease area, and also must learn better rebound control in order to maximize potential. That can come with experience.
After his magnificent run with the Capitals during the spring, its hard to think that he wont be a starter during at least one part of the season. They didn’t give Michael Neuvirth a chance to play during the playoffs, so you could expect them to give him starts at the start of the season, but I still think that Holtby will be the starting goalie by the end of the season.