Washington Capitals: Braden Holtby Will Have Breakout Season

Jordan PittContributor IIJanuary 14, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 05: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals makes a save against the New York Rangers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center on May 5, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Braden Holtby isn't a star. Not yet at least.

After helping the Washington Capitals defeat the Boston Bruins and reach the second round of the playoffs in the 2011-12 season—while posting a 1.95 GAA and a .935 save percentage in the process—the 23-year-old goaltender isn't guaranteed a starting position in the upcoming abbreviated season.

According to new Capitals head coach—and NHL Hall-of-Famer—Adam Oates, Holtby will be splitting time with fellow Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth.

“Forty-eight games, I think both guys are going to play a lot, and I would say when a guy is playing well, he should play.”

I don’t expect them to be splitting the starting role for too long, though.

While Neuvirth, 24, is a good goalie and has put up some solid numbers in his young career (2.65 GAA, .909 save percentage and 51-30-9 record), Holtby will win the starting job and it won’t take him long to do so.

Not only is Holtby exceptionally talented, but he is a tenacious competitor. He is at his best in the biggest moments, exhibited by his form in the playoffs last season. In a 48 game season, every game is important, as a few wins or losses can be the difference between making or missing the playoffs. That means the pressure will be on the goalies all season long, and Holtby will have no problem stepping up to the task.

Holtby will not be bothered by the shortened season. In fact, he will flourish because of it.

With a season that is almost like an extended playoffs, Holtby will post all-star worthy numbers and help the Capitals regain their position atop the Southeast division.

Holtby may not be a star now, but by the time this season is over, he will be.