The Vancouver Canucks have made a change in net, signing goaltender Braden Holtby to a two-year deal worth $8.6 million. Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) makes a save as New York Islanders centre Brock Nelson (29) looks for the rebound during first period NHL Eastern Conference Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Toronto, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The Vancouver Canucks have made a change in net, signing goaltender Braden Holtby to a two-year deal worth $8.6 million. Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) makes a save as New York Islanders centre Brock Nelson (29) looks for the rebound during first period NHL Eastern Conference Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Toronto, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Vancouver Canucks sign veteran goaltender Braden Holtby to 2-year deal

Each team can protect only one goalie in the Seattle expansion draft next year

Braden Holtby figures he’ll have no trouble fitting in with his new team.

The veteran netminder signed a two-year, US$8.6-million deal with Vancouver on Friday as the Canucks made a key change between the pipes on the opening day of free agency.

“I’m a guy who believes in hard work and competitiveness and a hard style of hockey. And you see a lot of the players on the Canucks that fit right into that mold,” the former Washington Capital told reporters on a video call.

“From an outsider looking in, I think it’s going to be a great fit and I’m really excited to get after it.”

Signing the five-time all-star means the Canucks are moving on from previous starter Jacob Markstrom, who also hit the free-agent market on Friday and signed a six-year deal with the Calgary Flames.

Holtby now becomes a teammate of 24-year-old goaltender Thatcher Demko, who nearly led the Canucks to a comeback victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference semifinal after Markstrom was injured in Game 4.

Each team can protect only one goalie in the Seattle expansion draft next year.

Heading into free agency, Holtby said he was looking for a city that was a good fit for his family and a team that had “an extremely good chance of winning.”

Holtby, 31, has spent his entire decade-long career with the Capitals, winning a Stanley Cup with the club in 2017-18.

The native of Lloydminster, Sask., posted a .916 save percentage with a 2.53 goals-against average and 282-122-46 record during his time in Washington.

Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a release that the team is pleased to add an “experienced and established goaltender” to the roster.

“Braden is a Stanley Cup champion, brings leadership and has demonstrated the ability to rise to the occasion in big games. He will be an important part of our team,” he said.

Holtby struggled last season, however, and his save percentage fell to .897 with a 3.11 goals-against average.

He admits that the season was “a bit of a struggle at times” and “didn’t go as planned.”

During the COVID-19 hiatus, Holtby worked with Washington goalie coach Scott Murray to break down his game and find ways to address what wasn’t working.

“When things came back, I felt as good as I have in a long time,” he said.

In Vancouver, Holtby will share the workload with the up-and-coming Demko.

The American made a name for himself during the Canucks’ playoff run, stealing a pair of games against the Golden Knights to force a Game 7. Demko posted a 13-10-2 record with a .905 save percentage in regular-season play.

Working with a talented young goalie will be exciting, Holtby said.

“You want to be able to push each other and have success that way and I think that’s really exciting to me,” he said. “Puts some young blood back into me, too. It’s always exciting to work with the young guys, they see things a different way too and you can learn a lot from them.”

Having two good goaltenders will be essential for any team looking to make a playoff push next year, Holtby added.

“It’s going to be a condensed schedule, it’s going to be a grind and I think you’re going to have two guys that are going to win games for you,” he said. “In order to have success as a team and a chance to win a championship, you need to have two goalies who are going to get you there.”

The Canucks also locked up Tyler Motte on Friday, signing the depth centre to a two-year deal worth $2.5 million.

Motte put up eight points (four goals, four assists) in 34 regular-season games with the Canucks last season. He also had a solid playoff run, adding five points (four goals, one assist) in 17 appearances.

“Tyler is a hard-working, physical player,” Benning said. “He adds versatility to our lineup, reads the game well and plays an important matchup role for our group.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

NHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

North Island Gazette file photo of Port Hardy council
Port Hardy council proclaims the last week of March ‘Bear Smart Week’

Council agreed to allocate $3,000 for funding towards ‘Bear Smart Week’ signage.

Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas. (Dennis Dugas photo)
Port Hardy mayor talks two years in office, ready to move forward in 2021

Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas tackles a number of different topics in an interview with the Gazette.

Dex needs surgery after breaking his paw in the panic caused by an apartment fire. (Submitted)
Dog needs surgery after apartment fire injury

A fundraiser has been started to contribute towards veterinarian costs

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

Most Read