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Braden Holtby’s best fits for free agency include Oilers, Sharks

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Braden Holtby's best fits for free agency include Oilers, Sharks

The Washington Capitals were eliminated from the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs by the New York Islanders on Aug. 20, and along with their move out of the Toronto bubble comes the expectation that a team that won the franchise’s first Cup just two years ago will be dismantled.

One of the players expected to move when free agency opens Oct. 9 is netminder Braden Holtby, who has been a staple between the pipes in the DMV since he made his debut in November 2010.

“Certainly a chance it is. Who knows?” said Holtby when asked if he had suited up for the last time as a Capital. “Live one day at a time and go from there. More right now is just, this one is going to sting for a little bit.

“Just take one day at a time and see where it leads.”

On Sept. 15, general manager Brian MacLellan addressed Holtby’s status during a Zoom call with reporters following the hiring of new head coach Peter Laviolette. 

“I would expect him to go to free agency,” he said. “The goalie market is probably a little unusually deep this year. I talked to his agent last week briefly about where he’s at and the kind of opportunities he’s looking for. I would assume he goes to free agency and we’ll keep in contact with him throughout the free agency period to see if he’s getting what he wants.”

NHL FREE AGENCY 2020: Complete list of all 31 teams’ UFA, RFA players

The unrestricted free agent is coming off the worst statistical year of his career. In 48 regular-season games (47 starts), Holtby posted a save percentage under .900 for the first time (.897) and a minus-16.76 Goals Saved Above Average. The 2015 Vezina Trophy winner and five-time All-Star played every game in the Caps’ postseason in 2020 after his heir apparent and expected new No. 1 in D.C., Ilya Samsonov, went down with an injury and did not travel to Toronto.

“Just disappointed,” Holtby said following elimination. “We had more to give and just didn’t find a way to do that. That’s never a fun thing to go through. It’s one of those things, [the Islanders] played well, they were able to win and [I] wish the best of the luck to them. It’s frustrating for us that we had more to give and didn’t find a way to do that.”

With Samsanov poised to take over next season, the question now is: Where does Holtby go? He’s coming off a five-year, $30.5 million contract ($6.1 million AAV), and the likelihood of him getting another high-end deal is low; however, there could be a demand for the 30-year-old’s services whenever the 2020-21 season starts.

Here are five teams that could use Holtby’s skill and experience in the crease:

Edmonton Oilers

Yep. If this were a numbered list, they’d be No’s. 1-5.

The Oilers need to add elements to move the needle from a decent team to a true Stanley Cup contender. Bolstering their blue line is key, but they also need help between the pipes; Mike Smith (.783 save percentage) and Mikko Koskinen (.889) struggled in net in the qualifying round. Holtby had a .906 save percentage in eight postseason games this year, and he also brings a wealth of playoff experience: 97 appearances (96 starts), an impressive .926 save percentage and one Stanley Cup.

Holtby spent 10 years with Alex Ovechkin in front of him; he would look good suiting up next to another superstar, Connor McDavid.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks’ goaltenders are not good. Aaron Dell and Martin Jones both struggled this past season as San Jose allowed 3.21 goals per game, the fifth-most in the NHL. Dell is a UFA, which leaves  a spot open for a new netminder.

Carolina Hurricanes

Petr Mrazek and James Reimer are both under contract for next season and they held their own in the postseason but is either one a No. 1? That’s up for debate.

They both had better numbers than Holtby this season — Mrazek was 47th in the NHL with a .905 save percentage; Reimer was 29th at .914 — but nether one has his track record or playoff experience. The Hurricanes should have one of the top defenses in the NHL next season, led by Jaccob Slavin, Dougie Hamilton, Brady Skjei and Jake Gardiner. Carolina allowed the second-fewest shots on goal per game (29.3) in 2019-20, which is something that could benefit Holtby.

NHL FREE AGENCY TRACKER 2020: Full list of signings, best available players

Ottawa Senators

Craig Anderson, 39, is a pending UFA and retirement is a possibility. Marcus Hoberg probably isn’t ready to be a No. 1 netminder. That leaves an opening in Ottawa. Holtby could serve in the role in the short term, but would he want to be a stopgap for a young team that will definitely compete for a playoff spot next season but isn’t quite yet a playoff contender?

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings present the same questions regarding youth and experience. Detroit won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, but longtime Wing Jimmy Howard — who was one of four goaltenders used in Hockeytown in 2019-20 — is also a pending UFA. The team could be looking for a veteran to settle the carousel.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Where the Playoff Contenders Stand After the NASCAR Cup Series Race at Las Vegas

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Where the Playoff Contenders Stand After the NASCAR Cup Series Race at Las Vegas

The Southern Point 400 in Las Vegas kicked off the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Kurt Busch sealed his own slot in the Playoffs when he won the race.

However, younger brother Kyle Busch is still searching for his first win of the season. Out of the Top-12, Busch Jr. is one of four drivers who are yet to win a race.

In a playoff sense, a win in the next two races guarantees qualification into the next round of the Playoffs. Without the win, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, and Austin Dillon are in danger.

Next weekend’s race at Talladega will be highly important, as Busch is nine points away from the cut-off line. Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin sit at the top of the points standings, 61 and 58 points above the cutoff, respectively.

Admittedly, if Busch wants to enter the next round, he needs to win or outscore Bowyer, Almirola, Dillon, Bowman, and Chase Elliott. At the same time, Kyle Busch will be keen to register his maiden win of the season.

As the defending champion, this is a matter of personal pride for the 35-year-old.

Can Kyle Busch make it into the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs?

Admittedly, the #18 Joe Gibbs driver has the capability to make it into the Playoffs. Even better than that, his car is perfectly capable of winning races in the 2020 Cup Series season. In what can only be described as rotten luck or shenanigans, the 35-year-old has consistently missed out.

In Sunday’s race, he found himself starting on 2nd on the grid behind Kevin Harvick. This was his best chance of finally breaking the jinx, but he eventually lost out and finished 6th.

Sep 27, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (18) leads driver Kevin Harvick (4) and a group during the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, his encounter with Joey Logano (again) did not help matters either, as it compromised his race. At this rate, Busch would probably need a restraining order slapped against Logano, as he has interfered with him on multiple occasions.

The #22 driver annoyed Kyle Busch so much that he declared that he was ‘nobody’s friend for a reason’. Hopefully, for Kyle’s sake, the next two races work in his favor and he enters the next playoff round. If he can do it with a win, he will only be too happy to claim it.

ALSO READ- WATCH: Drama Between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano Continues as They Make Contact at Las Vegas

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Tom Brady has Buccaneers in Top 10

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Tom Brady has Buccaneers in Top 10

The clash between the last two league MVPs — and two of the top three teams in The Post’s weekly NFL Power Rankings — turned out to be a one-sided affirmation of the defending Super Bowl champions.

Patrick Mahomes and the top-ranked Kansas City Chiefs outclassed Lamar Jackson and the No. 3 Baltimore Ravens on the road Monday night, further cementing their early place atop the list for a third straight week.

Our Top 10 also added two new teams this week, unbeaten Tennessee and the Tampa Bay Bradys, who have won two in a row following a Week 1 defeat.

1. Kansas City Chiefs, 3-0 (Last week: 1)

Mahomes zipped the ball around for 385 passing yards — with TD tosses to four different receivers — to become the fastest player in NFL history to 10,000 passing yards (34 games). The underrated KC defense also held Jackson under 100 passing yards (a career-low 97) and to one offensive touchdown. Next: Sunday vs. New England.

2. Seattle Seahawks, 3-0 (2)

The injuries are mounting for the NFC’s top team, with former Jets safety Jamal Adams (groin), running back Chris Carson (knee) and starting guard Damien Lewis knocked out of Sunday’s shootout win over Dallas. Russell Wilson’s 14 TD passes are the most through three games of any quarterback in NFL history, one more than Mahomes in 2018. Next: Sunday at Miami.

3. Buffalo Bills, 3-0 (5)

Don’t scoff, third-year starter Josh Allen is legitimately in the early MVP conversation alongside the two quarterbacks above him on this week’s poll, with 12 total TDs (10 passing) and one interception through the Bills’ no-fluke 3-0 start for a second consecutive season. Next: Sunday at Las Vegas.

4. Green Bay Packers, 3-0 (4)

Don’t count out 36-year-old Aaron Rodgers (9 TDs, 0 INTs) in this race just yet either, as he and second-year coach Matt LaFleur fully appear in sync through three games. The Pack put up 37 points (without Davante Adams) to outgun Drew Brees and the Saints. Next: Monday vs. Atlanta.

5. Baltimore Ravens, 2-1 (3)

Jackson did manage 83 rushing yards Monday night, but the reigning league MVP is now 0-3 in his career against Mahomes. The Ravens’ fourth-ranked defense was torched by the KC offense for 517 total yards. Next: Sunday at Washington.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers, 3-0 (8)

T.J. and Derek Watt got the best of big brother J.J. Watt’s winless Texans in only the second NFL game in 93 years featuring three brothers. The Steelers continue to post a nice pass-run mix with 237 yards in the air from Ben Roethlisberger and 169 on the ground against Houston. Next: Sunday at Tennessee.

7. Tennessee Titans, 3-0 (12)

The Titans have picked up where they left off in last season’s unexpected run to the AFC title game, using the combination of Ryan Tannehill, NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry (319 yards) and new kicker Stephen Gostkowksi for their first 3-0 start since 2008. Next: Sunday vs. Pittsburgh.

8. New England Patriots, 2-1 (9)

Cam Newton led the Pats in rushing yards in each of the first two games with his new team, but running backs Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead accounted for 238 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Raiders. Next: Sunday at Kansas City.

Tom Brady
Tom BradyAP

9. Los Angeles Rams, 2-1 (7)

Jared Goff and the Rams stormed back from a Falcon-esque 28-3 hole with 29 straight points, only to suffer their first loss of the season in the closing seconds against Buffalo. Their Aaron Donald-led defense (89 points allowed) will need to tighten things up to stay competitive in a loaded NFC West. Next: Sunday vs. Giants

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-1 (14)

Tom Brady is starting to find some rhythm with his new weapons within Bruce Arians’ offense, posting 59 points over the past two wins following a messy Week 1 loss. TB12 even got the ball to old friend Rob Gronkowski with six completions for 48 yards in Sunday’s win over Denver. Next: Sunday vs. LA Chargers

11. Arizona Cardinals, 2-1 (6)

12. San Francisco 49ers, 2-1 (15)

13. Las Vegas Raiders, 2-1 (10)

14. Chicago Bears, 3-0 (16)

15. New Orleans Saints, 1-2 (11)

16. Indianapolis Colts, 2-1 (20)

17. Dallas Cowboys, 1-2 (13)

18. Cleveland Browns, 2-1 (22)

19. Los Angeles Chargers, 1-2 (17)

20. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-2 (19)

21. Carolina Panthers, 1-2 (24)

22. Houston Texans, 0-3 (21)

23. Washington Football Team, 1-2 (18)

24. Minnesota Vikings, 0-3 (23)

25. Miami Dolphins, 1-2 (30)

26. Detroit Lions, 1-2 (31)

27. Philadelphia Eagles, 0-2-1 (26)

28. Cincinnati Bengals, 0-2-1 (29)

29. Denver Broncos, 0-3 (25)

30. Atlanta Falcons, 0-3 (27)

31. New York Giants, 0-3 (28)

Does anyone think either of the local teams will win more games at MetLife Stadium than the 49ers already have (two) this season? Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense didn’t take a single snap inside the red zone against a team missing practically half of its starting lineup. This is a far bigger problem than Saquon Barkley’s absence. Next: Sunday at LA Rams.

32. Jets, 0-3 (32)

From the silver linings playbook, at least the Jets can boast that their first-round left tackle, Mekhi Becton, has made more of an impact early on than his Giants counterpart, Andrew Thomas. But really, that’s about all they can say. Offensively, the Gase/Darnold unit is ranked dead last in the league in scoring, total yards, passing yards and first downs. Next: Thursday vs. Denver.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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REPORTS: Absence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic Takes a Toll on TV Ratings

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REPORTS: Absence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic Takes a Toll on TV Ratings

The biggest names are the biggest crowd pullers in an event. Whether it’s a match or any other occasion, viewership fluctuates with the presence or absence of any specific name involved. For tennis, the presence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams greatly determines the viewership. Years of astounding performance helped them build a loyal fan base that flocks to any match they play in.

Spencer Nolan, general manager for UK and Ireland for Nielsen Sport, shared his thought regarding this issue.

“For sports like tennis, you do see the individuals [involved] playing a big part in the overall audience base or the willingness to watch an event,” Spencer Nolan said.

The recently concluded US Open 2020 fetched disappointing viewership numbers. While the men’s final lacked audience due to the absence of the big three, the women’s final suffered because of the semi-final’s loss of hometown heroine Serena Williams.

“In the women’s final, the absence of the home hero is a big piece whereas the men’s is different and we’re talking about global icons that almost transcend a sport: Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, and Serena too, are not only the three best ever to play the game, they are the three best ever to play in the last 150 years and they’re all playing at the same time which is probably unparalleled in any sport.

“If they had retired five years ago, there would have been a hole for a period and you would maybe have had players maybe winning slams that they shouldn’t have been.”

Rafael Nadal on his quest for the 13th Roland Garros title

Pulling out of the US Open 2020, Rafael Nadal shifted his complete focus towards the French Open 2020. The twelve-time French Open champion is on a quest to pick up his 13th Grand Slam on clay.

The Spaniard is almost unplayable on the red dirt. However, it won’t be easy for Nadal as this year’s tournament has adverse conditions – including heavier Wilson balls.

Novak Djokovic’s presence in the tournament not only increased the competition but also helped in bringing more audience to the event. Significantly, Serena Williams will also look for her record 24th Grand Slam.

Serena Williams in US Open 2020
Flushing Meadows, New York,USA; Serena Williams of the United States hits a backhand against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (not pictured) in a women’s singles semi-finals match on day ten of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. |REUTERS

Needless to say, the viewership will go down drastically after these players retire. We can only hope that the void is soon filled by fresh faces.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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