Category Archives: Washington Capitals
Among the free-agent centers still remaining is Mikhail Grabovski, a compliance buyout of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who bought out the final four years of his contract at $14.33 million.
Grabovski set career highs in 2010-11 when he recorded 29 goals and 29 assists, but struggled last season with nine goals, seven assists and a minus-10 rating in 48 games.
Ahead of Sunday’s NHL Draft, Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee expects that “there may be more [trade] activity in this one than other drafts” as all 30 teams have to adjust to a reduced salary cap, one that will slide from $70.2 million to $64.3 million next season.
“Particularly this year, teams are sort of more forthcoming on what they want to do,” he said at a pre-draft press conference at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “Now, they have to get the guys they want to move out there because you only have so much flexibility.”
Yet McPhee made it clear Monday that if there is a deal to be made, it won’t involve goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
Defenseman requests a fresh start elsewhere
Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz has requested a trade, according to his agent, Jarrett Bousquet.
Frustrated by a lack of playing time for the second year in a row and limited communication from two separate Washington coaching staffs — former coach Dale Hunter and current coach Adam Oates — Schultz wants a fresh start elsewhere.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs are in the market for a center and possibly a defensemen. It’s possible they won’t have to add on defense if Jake Gardiner proves he can stick around this time and make a difference. But the Leafs definitely are thin at center and could use help there, especially if they want to get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004. One name being floated in Toronto is Mike Ribeiro, but it’s not clear what the Washington Capitals want to do with him. He is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
Ribiero is having a wonderful season. He leads the team in points (24) and assists (17) and is a big reason why Washington’s power play is in the top five of the league. But he is also an unrestricted free agent who turned 33 last month and could be looking for a raise from the $5 million he is making now. That would be a risk considering his age, especially in a year that will see the salary cap decline from $70 million to $64 million. Since the last lockout, only Saku Koivu has registered more than 50 points in each of the seasons when he was aged 33 to 35 (as of Feb. 1 in the season they played). Only five others have hit the 50-point mark twice.
Well, the opinions that matter are the coaching staff and our pro scouts and ownership. We’re all on the same page. We’re disappointed with the way things have started. It’s not over. Nothing that a couple of wins won’t really help. But we’re gonna make good decisions. We’re not gonna do anything short term. We’re not gonna blow anything up. We like the people here. We’ve just got to be smart about how we do it. We’ve made a lot of good decisions over the last five or six years. Hopefully, we made good decisions this year, but we’ll see.
So what do you do if you’re the 2-7-1 Washington Capitals?
Well, you start working the phones.
Sources around the league indicate that indeed Caps GM George McPhee has begun to do just that.
While the Senators are determined to go with what they’ve got to fill the void left by the back surgery to centre Jason Spezza, Murray likely couldn’t make a deal unless he was willing to give up a top prospect to get something in return.
There was hardly even time for fun speculation, Washington Capitals GM George McPhee made sure of that. On Sunday afternoon, both Vancouver GM Mike Gillis and Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman were in Washington, D.C., among those scouting the matinee game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Capitals. When asked what brought the two executives so far east, especially in a season in which the Canucks won’t have to face either team until the Stanley Cup finals, Gilman smiled. Just watching some hockey.
The issue for the Capitals is whether adding Luongo, at his age and cap hit, makes sense this season and in the immediate future. They are already behind the eight-ball in the Eastern Conference, and the Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Mike Green core hasn’t contended since 2010.
Players Gillis could be interested in: young defenseman Dmitry Orlov and prospect Filip Forsberg. If he’s looking for immediate help along the second line, though, the Capitals don’t have much to offer.
Capitals defenseman John Erskine will have a supplemental discipline hearing with NHL Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan at 2 p.m. Saturday for hitting Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds in the head Friday night.
With 1 minute 51 seconds remaining in the first period of Washington’s 3-2 win over the Flyers, Erskine elbowed Simmonds in the head as both players pursued a loose puck along the left-wing boards in the Philadelphia zone.
No penalty was called on the play. Simmonds had a bloody nose and was able to head to the bench under his own power, but he never returned to the game.
Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said after the game that Simmonds has a “head injury” and “probably a little bit of whiplash” but that he would be reevaluated Saturday.
You have to wonder if Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis found any relief from Alex Ovechkin’s first road goal of the season.
Ovechkin blew a wrist shot past Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer on a power play at 2:38 of the second to put the Capitals up 2-1, a lead that would hold through the period before Toronto eventually picked up its first home win of the season, 3-2, on Thursday night.
Whether or not the biggest problem for the Caps thus far has been Nicklas Backstrom’s lack of production, or Brooks Laich’s injury, or adjusting to Adam Oates, or poor special teams, the headline will always be “Ovechkin has just one goal through six games.”
So it was that owner Ted Leonsis was asked about his team’s, and his captain’s, slow start on WTOP Wednesday morning.
“Well, we’re concerned too,” Leonsis said. “I’m not so sure that [team] scoring’s gonna be an issue, but it has been to date. And Alex is off to a slow start….He’s having to get integrated into this new system….He needs to play better. I don’t have the answers. Obviously I’m not running the hockey operations. If I knew what to do, I would go see George and Adam, but I don’t, so they’re gonna have to work it out.”
Leonsis said when he talked with Ovechkin during the first few days after the lockout, they mostly discussed the winger’s offseason engagement to tennis star Maria Kirilenko. But Leonsis said he also asked Ovechkin about his biggest concern transitioning from the KHL back to the NHL, and Ovechkin mentioned the significant difference in rink size.
“He gets double-teamed all the time [in the NHL], so he has to keep moving,” Leonsis said. “And that’s the one thing I’ve noticed: when he doesn’t have a good game, he seems to be more stationary, and video coaches show him that.”