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

Felix Townsin, shown here with his sister, Lexi, who died on Oct. 19, 2019. Felix is a big part of a family initiative aimed at finding a cure for Blau Syndrome. (Photo contributed by the Townsin family)
Quest to cure Blau syndrome a family affair

John Stubbs student produces film for late little sister Lexi

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Soccer player Ethan Finnigan juggles the ball at Oak Bay High. The Grade 12 student was injured much of last year and was relying on his senior year to score a scholarship and play at university. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
High school athletes remain on sidelines across B.C.

Recruiting for university on hiatus, future unknown

An incident on Sooke Road is slowing traffic Wednesday evening. (Courtesy of Mona Hazeldine)
Sooke Road incident snarls evening traffic

Witnesses report two-vehicle collision

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read