LAS VEGAS – The National Hockey League announced on Wednesday that former South Carolina Stingrays, and current Washington Capitals’ goaltender Braden Holtby is the winner of the Vezina Trophy for the 2015-16 season.
The Vezina Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s goaltender who is “adjudged to be the best at this position” in voting by the League’s general managers.
Holtby is third former ECHL goaltender to receive the Vezina Trophy joining former Hampton Roads Admirals’ goaltender Olaf Kozlig, who received the award in 1999-2000, and former Birmingham Bulls’ goaltender Tim Thomas, who won the award in 2008-09 and 2010-11.
Former Reading Royals’ goaltender Jonathan Quick was also a finalist for this year’s award.
Holtby appeared in 12 games with South Carolina during the 2009-10 season, earning a spot in the ECHL All-Star Game, and posting a record of 7-2-3 with a 2.95 goals-against average and a save percentage of .911.
The 26-year-old appeared in 62 games for the Capitals this season, winning an NHL-best 48 games as part of his 48-9-7 record. He ranked sixth in the league with a 2.20 goals-against average and was eighth with a .922 save percentage.
Selected by the Capitals in the fourth round (93rd overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Holtby has appeared in 244 career games with a record of 149-60-25, 23 shutouts, a 2.37 goals-against average and a save percentage of .921.
There have been 599 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 30 who made their NHL debuts in the 2015-16 season. The ECHL has had 407 players reach the NHL since 2002-03 when it changed its focus to become the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. The ECHL had 97 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years. There have been 343 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last 11 seasons for an average of more than 31 per year.
There were five players who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2015-16: Ben Harpur with Evansville and Ottawa, Ross Johnston with Missouri and the New York Islanders, Mackenzie Skapski with Greenville and the New York Rangers, Garret Sparks with Orlando and Toronto and Scott Wedgewood with Adirondack and New Jersey.
The ECHL was represented in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by 40 former players and 15 coaches on the 16 teams. It was the 11th year in a row that there were at least 30 former ECHL players and the 13th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience competed in the NHL postseason. It marked the 12th straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches. For the 16th year in a row, the ECHL was represented on the Stanley Cup champion.
The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender Scott Gordon, who played his first game with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo on Jan. 30, 1990.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the NHL include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Doug Plagens of the Florida Panthers, Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Former ECHL player Jody Shelley is an analyst with the Blue Jackets.
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province for its 28th season in 2015-16. There have been 599 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 30 who have made their NHL debuts in the 2015-16 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 NHL teams in 2015-16, marking the 19th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.