Caps re-sign Braden Holtby, John Erskine to two-year contracts

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Holtby could be a bargain at $1.85 million per season. (Getty Images)
Holtby could be a bargain at $1.85 million per season. (Getty Images)

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The Washington Capitals signed young goaltender Braden Holtby to a two-year extension on Monday and did the same with defenseman John Erskine.

The Caps are one of those amazing franchises that actually releases the contract information for their players. So for Holtby, 23, it's a $3.7 million over the two seasons on the new deal, or a salary cap of $1.85 million per season.

"We are pleased to sign Braden to a contract extension," Capitals GM George McPhee said. "Braden is a young and talented goaltender who has performed very well in both the regular season and the playoffs during his NHL career. We are fortunate to have two excellent young goaltenders on our roster in Washington."

Holtby was the Capitals' star of the playoffs a year ago when he came up just before the end of the season and was forced into action because of injuries to Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth. He performed exceptionally well in his 14 postseason starts with a 1.95 GAA and .935 save percentage. That earned him the edge for the No. 1 job this season with the Capitals.

This season hasn't gone as well for Holtby -- but how could it? He has a 5-6-0 record with a save percentage of .896 and a goals against average of 3.37. He's not as good as the way he played in the playoffs, and he's probably not quite as bad as he has shown this season, so the cap hit seems awfully good for the Caps. Not to mention it's just a short-term deal, so it gives Holtby time to prove one way or another what he's worth. It's a very reasonable cap hit, especially if he shows he can be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL.

He was slated to become a free agent after this season despite the minimal NHL experience, which is why the Caps would sign him to a short-term extension. That gives them more time to evaluate him at the NHL level.

Also of import, Neuvirth is a free agent after this season as well, so the Caps have some decision-making to do there.

As for Erskine, the deal was announced by the Capitals later on Monday as being worth $3.925 million over the two years.

The veteran defenseman will never be confused with a scoring defenseman; he has just 12 goals and 34 assists in 435 career games. But he is a capable defender in his own zone and brings a nasty edge to the Caps, something they don't have a ton of throughout the lineup without Erskine.

This season he has played in 11 games and was suspended for two others for a hit on Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers.

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