Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ranking the NHL's Top 25 Starting Goalies

Earlier this summer, the folks at Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy blog ranked their top 25 NHL goalies based on projected performance.  So, I got some serious beef with some of their picks, yo, and I'm gonna do it better myself.  (I can't actually do it better).  It should be noted that this list does not include any expected backups this year, like Tuukka Rask or Michal Neuvirth.

NOTE: These rankings factor in age, future potential, as well as career and last season's stats.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brouwer Power

What can the Caps expect from one of their shiny new toys?
For years, George McPhee has preached building through the draft, and was adamant about not trading first-round selections to acquire players, deciding instead to build from within.  You can imagine, then, the general surprise among Caps fans when the news broke on the night of the 2011 NHL Draft that the Capitals had traded their first-round pick this year for forward Troy Brouwer.  A 25 year-old winger from Vancouver, he scored 17 goals and 19 assists last year in 39 games for the Chicago Blackhawks, and spent five seasons in the Windy City, winning a Stanley Cup on 2010.  Of course, with new players, comes lot's of new talk - about what they'll bring, what they won't, and who they'll play with. So let's take a look.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hammer Time

Thankfully, Ovi can count on Hamrlik blocking other shots the next two years.
Among the most surprising moves made by Capitals General Manager George McPhee this offseason was the signing of free agent defenseman Roman Hamrlik.  The 37 year-old Czech defenseman signed a two-year, $7 million contract on July 1 after four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, where he was consistently one of the Habs' most reliable players.  When George McPhee signed him, that was one of the words that he used several times addressing the media - reliable - and it's one of the things that Hamrlik can bring to the table in spades, providing he is healthy.  But reliability is not all that he can bring to the lineup regularly; he will certainly be useful for Bruce Boudreau's team in other ways.  Take a look after the jump.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lay Off Mike Green

As you can see in Figure 1, Mike Green clearly plays no defense.
As the madness of the draft, free agency, and development camp slowly winds down, many Caps fans, including myself, are still wondering about how DC will get under the salary cap for next season.  The most obvious answer, to me and many others, is still to get Tom Poti's money off the books, but some fans are calling for something else - trading defenseman Mike Green before the season starts.  I understand the reasoning behind this from a salary cap perspective. Green's cap hit for the upcoming season is $5.25 million, certainly pricey, and it stands to reason that he will demand more when he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.  Trading him would, without a doubt, lessen the strain Washington has on the cap and make it easier to both get new players, if needed, at the trade deadline and spend the necessary money next summer to keep key guys on board.
In addition, however, a growing number of fans think that trading Green will be a double bonus - that the Capitals will be able to not only dump salary, but dump an overrated player who makes too much money.  Wait, What?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pick Six

Well, this is awkward.  Both playing at once? Um...
With the Washington Capitals seemingly done picking up players via free agency or trades this offseason, the time has come to start looking at where those players will fit into the DC lineup and the effect that they will have on incumbent players.  One of the spots in the lineup that will certainly be interesting to look at is the role of sixth defenseman, as the signing of Roman Hamrlik to a two-year, $7 million contract seems to indicate a top-six role for the veteran Czech.  With Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Hamrlik, Dennis Wideman, and hopefully Mike Green all locked in to lineup spots at the moment, two healthy defensemen currently on the Washington roster remain to fill that final spot on the blue line: Jeff Schultz and John Erskine.  Unless injuries strike, one is going to have to sit every night. Both have their advantages, limited as they may be, so both can merit a selection on a nightly basis.
And so, without further ado, let's have ourselves a little look-see:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Tom Poti Quandary

For Capitals defenseman Tom Poti, this past year was a lost campaign.  In his first season after signing a new two-year, $5.75 million contract extension, the veteran defenseman was limited to only 21 games due to a groin injury that he first suffered in mid-October.  He was able to come back in mid-November, but re-injured the muscle late in December against the Penguins.  Poti didn't play in a game after January 12th, despite skating at Kettler Capitals Iceplex regularly from February onwards and even practicing as the spring began.
Despite this apparent progress, it is clear that Poti is nowhere near ready to compete for the Caps in an actual game.  Earlier this summer, George McPhee said that Poti's condition is "no better than it was six months ago"and that while he would like to have him back this upcoming season, he is "not counting on him," according to NHL.com's Corey Masisak.  That being said, for the upcoming season, Washington has a big decision on their hands with deciding what to do with him.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Development Camp: Day 6

Kettler Capitals Iceplex was packed this morning for the final scrimmage of 2011 Caps Development Camp, which included FanFest.  I would guess that at least 1,000 people filled the stands and stood three deep around the entire available circumference of the rink.

The Red team took the lead early in the first period when Karl Stollery wristed a shot through a screen past Philipp Grubauer after Mattias Sjogren won another faceoff cleanly from Cody Eakin.  Red continued to carry the play and took a 2-0 lead when Reid Edmondson tapped in a low pass from Travis Boyd on the power play late in the frame.  It ended with Red in the lead 2-0.
In the second period T.J. Snyer scored early to make it 3-0 on a breakaway off a nice lead pass from Cameron Burt.  Slowly the White team began to claw back in the middle of the period and Andrew Cherniwichan made it 3-1 when he batted home a loose puck in front of the net; the goal was assisted by Garrett Haar and Garrett Mitchell.  Despite a long 5 on 3 power play at the end of the period for the Red team, they were unable to score again and the period closed with them in the lead.
The White team struck first in the third period, with Luke Lockhart banging one home on a nice pace from tough guy Danick Paquette to bring the score within one.  The Red team came back hard, but 2011 draftee goaltender Steffen Soberg made several great saves to keep his team within one.  White was given a late power play but could not tie it up, and then Red put it out of reach when T.J. Snyer scored off a nice pass from Mattias Sjogren.  The Red team took the final scrimmage, winning the series 2-1.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Capitals Re-Sign Karl Alzner

As first reported by Caps senior writer Mike Vogel, the Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman Karl Alzner to a two-year contract through the 2012-12 season.  The deal will have an annual salary cap hit of $1.285 million and is worth $2.57 million total.
This deal is simply fantastic.  Again, George McPhee has found a way to get a star player to sign for far less than what they would have gotten on the open market, and in doing so, stabilized the Caps' defense tremendously.  Even better is the fact that, pending a new CBA with similar restricted free agency rules next summer, Alzner will be a restricted free agent again when this deal expires.  That gives Washington continued control over him through that offseason.  One very surprising note, however: Alzner noted in his conference call Friday afternoon that there were "no other offers out there."  That is just absurd.
With this deal completed, the Caps are now $890,128 over the salary cap.  This problem will likely be solved by the removal of Tom Poti's contract from the books, one way or another.

In other news, day five of Development Camp was Friday at Kettler, with both groups going through drills as they prepared for Saturday's big scrimmage.  I wasn't able to go because I had to work today, but for observations on the day check out @RinkRebel on twitter.  New Cap Jeff Halpern also skated for the first time at KCI today - he was wearing a number 15 sticker on his Washington helmet.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

For Mullane, Competition Is Key; While Winning Follows

Free agent invitee Pat Mullane unloads on Philipp Grubauer Monday.
For Pat Mullane, almost everything that he gained at Capitals Development Camp was in the form of experience.  That's not to say he wasn't impressive, though. The 21 year-old from Wallingford, Connecticut, participated in his first summer sessions with the Caps this past July and scored a goal and two assists in the scrimmages, as well as showed off good speed and a nose for the net.  Despite these potentially valuable traits, though, he has not been selected in the NHL draft despite being eligible since 2009.
But that hasn't daunted him as he works towards his goal of turning pro.  In fact, it's only made the 5-11, 190-pound Mullane work even harder and challenge himself even further as he chases the dream of every hockey player - to play in the best league in the world.  One other thing about Pat - he's a winner.  Rings have followed him wherever he goes: he's won a Championship in three of the past four seasons.

Development Camp: Day 4

Prospects and undrafted free agents reported to Kettler Capitals Iceplex again this morning for the second of three scrimmages during Washington Capitals Development Camp.  As Bruce Boudreau predicted, the quality of Thursday's play generally increased when compared to Wednesday.

In the first period, Reid Edmondson scored first, skating down the half wall and cutting to the middle for a 1-0 Red lead early.  Red continued to push early but could not force another through, and David Civitarese tied it up with about five minutes to go.  In the second, Danick Paquette scored the lone goal, putting White into a 2-1 lead with less than a minute to go, and the middle frame also included a fight between Garrett Mitchell and Scott Wietecha.  Early in the third, Andrew Mitchell put Red ahead 3-1 off a nice rebound goal, but 2011 draftee Travis Boyd brought the heat within the next ten minutes with two goals to tie it up. The final frame also featured Scott Wietecha's second fight of the game, this time with Danick Paquette.  The game ended in a 3-3 tie, and a shootout was used to determine the winner.  The White team won to tie the scrimmage series at 1 as Garrett Mitchell scored the lone shootout goal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Development Camp: Day 3

Forty-six Caps prospects and free-agent invitees assembled again at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday for day three of Washington Capitals Development Camp.  The morning was slow, with both groups being put through conditioning tests, but the afternoon saw the first scrimmage of the camp take place.

First thing in the morning, however, at around 8:15, all four goalies at camp hit the ice with goaltending coach Dave Prior, associate goaltending coach Olaf Kolzig, and several other coaches for a private session.  The coaching staff put Steffen Soberg, Philipp Grubauer, Brandon Anderson, and Jacob Gervais-Chouinard through a series of drills involving clearing, positioning, and recovery over the hour-long skate.
During the full-length Red (Group B) vs. White (Group A) scrimmage, Andrew Cherniwchan scored for the White late in the first period to tie after Caleb Herbert had opened the scoring midway through the first. In the second period, Russian Stan Galiev scored after missing a wide open net early in the period, cashing on on a nice pass by 2011 draftee Travis Boyd.  Boyd then put the red team up 3-1 early in the third before Aaron Schmit tapped in a loose puck behind Steffen Soberg to make it 4-1 halfway through the frame.  The White team got one back with about four minutes left as Garrett Mitchell scored on a nice pass from Cherniwchan and Cody Eakin.

Capitals Sign Mathieu Perreault

As first reported by Caps senior writer Mike Vogel, the Washington Capitals have signed restricted free agent center Mathieu Perreault to a one-year, two-way deal for the 2011-12 season.  The deal will pay Perreault $550K next season at the NHL level, according to Renaud Lavoie of RDS.
Perreault, 23, played in 35 games at the NHL level last season, scoring 7 goals and adding 7 assists while compiling a -3 rating and 20 penalty minutes.  The young Canadian, at this point, is being signed on for organizational depth, and does not figure to play a large role in Washington's plans this upcoming season, even though Bruce Boudreau did indicate when asked after Wednesday's scrimmage that he would be in the mix for one of the final roster spots come September. He should, however, spend most of 2011-12 in Hershey with the Bears.
That's not meant to me a knock on young Matty P, because he certainly has potential.  He has good stick skills, is fast, and can control the puck.  But his size is going to make it extremely difficult for him to be a star at the NHL level. He will see some time with the big club this year, mainly as an injury replacement, and will have some good games, no doubt. But for the most part, it appears as though his time has come and gone with the Caps.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cody Eakin Not Intimidated by Spotlight

Eakin skates Monday at Development Camp.
Take one look at Caps prospect Cody Eakin off the ice, and your first thought would probably be something along the lines of "he plays hockey?"  The diminutive center looks like he would be more at home surfing or skiing, but he certainly does not look like possibly the most highly-touted prospect at Development Camp and one of the best in the entire league.  Surprise!  He is. Eakin is, in fact, so highly regarded that he was traded this past winter in Major Junior from the Swift Current Broncos to the Kootenay Ice for five players and three draft picks.  In short, big things are expected of him, and many Caps fans want to see him on the roster this fall, when he is expected to turn pro.

Development Camp: Day 2

Day two of Washington Capitals Development Camp was much less busy today,  as there were no new faces among the prospects as they began to get put through their paces by Bruce Boudreau and his coaching staff. Today's drills featured a lot of skating and conditioning as Caps brass continues to evaluate the progress of both their most prized prospects and undrafted, rookie free agents.  Hey, it's a long process.
Dmitry Orlov impressed again on Tuesday, skating well and controlling the puck along the boards and in open ice.  The young Russian defenseman has really made some noise in the first two days of camp, both for his entertaining steel/chocolate factory quote and (as expected) with his play.  I would say at this point he has been the most complete player, along with Cody Eakin, among the players under contract.
Also today, new Caps winger Joel Ward spoke with the media, making his first in-person appearance at Kettler Capitals Iceplex since signing a four-year, $12-million deal on July 1.  Ward talked about how this summer was new to him, being pursued by literally half the league, but the Capitals stood out due to "a lot of winning."  The new right winger also mentioned that he notices, along with Troy Brouwer, a seemed desire by George McPhee to bring in grit and toughness, and is eager to incorporate that part of his game into the Capitals.
Bruce Boudreau also spoke with the media, and thought that Tuesday's performance of the prospects was much better than Monday's.  Boudreau also spoke of the growth of Stan Galiev, who has "matured" a lot since his last development camp.  In the last year, Galiev has won the Memorial Cup, been a leading scorer on the best Major Junior team in the world, and gotten smarter with the puck as he gains experience in North America.  The head coach noted that he was impressed both the the Russian's speed and his ability with the puck, as well as his hockey sense.  In other news: Stan Galiev is good.
Finally, new Swedish signing Mattias Sjogren missed skating with his scheduled group this morning because of a visit to the dentist.  Sjogren lost one tooth and damaged another on Monday after being hit in the mouth with a loose stick, but had it fixed in the morning and was back on the ice with the second group in the afternoon.  Welcome to the Caps, Mattias!

Group A will be on the ice Wednesday for a session, followed by Group B at 10:20.  The first scrimmage of camp will be held at 3 PM.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Development Camp: Day 1

Cody Eakin speaks with the media.
Prospects and undrafted free agents were all over the place at Kettler Capitals Iceplex today, as Development Camp got underway with a 9:45 AM skate for Group A.  Many prospects impressed, including Cody Eakin, Patrick Wey, Patrick Mullane, and Garrett Haar. Mullane, an invitee who plays with Boston College, looked very good in that group and to me was the best player not under contract. Young goaltenders Philipp Grubauer and Steffen Soberg were on hand in Group A as well, with Soberg skating for the first time as a member of the organization.
Group B was highlighted by Dmitry Orlov, Stan Galiev, and Mattias Sjogren. In that group, Orlov was particularly impressive.  Although much smaller than I anticipated, the young Russian defenseman was physical, getting in to it several times with fellow prospect Garrett Ross and laying a few big open ice hits. Sjogren also looked very good, as he was clearly the most complete prospect in his group both in terms of size and skill.  He had a tooth knocked out about ten minutes into his session, but returned to the ice quickly.
After group A left the ice, Troy Brouwer had his first in-person media availability as a member of the organization as well, and stressed his physicality as piece that he hopes to bring to Washington on a regular basis.  He noted that he knows his role on the team, and that he likes were DC is headed as an organization both in the near and distant future.
General Manager George McPhee also spoke, and did not have an update on RFA Karl Alzner's contract status, though he said that he does expect to speak with Alzner's agent later this week.  When asked about any more possible trades, he said that he does not expect to move anyone else at this juncture, although he will listen to offers from other teams.  The General Manager also talked about the trade of Eric Fehr last week, noting the ability to acquire more selections in what is expected to be a deep entry draft class next summer.  McPhee likes where the team is now, and said that it is much better to have the holes plugged now rather than at the trade deadline.
New Associate Goaltending Coach Olie Kolzig spoke with the media as well, and could not be happier about joining the team he played virtually his entire NHL career with as a coach.  Kolzig noted that he was very impressed with the organization's goaltending depth, remarking that it "could not get any deeper." The former Vezina Trophy winer said that there is no bad blood left from his rather unceremonious exit from the organization, and that he got "the itch" after two years out of hockey.  He hopes that his experience will be the most valuable thing that he can bring to the coaching staff, being a former player, and is looking forward to the start of training camp in September.
Lastly, Bruce Boudreau spoke, and seemed to make it clear that Tomas Vokoun will be the number one goalie coming in to camp, saying that he has earned the "respect" and "edge" for that job.  When asked about top prospect Cody Eakin, who continues to generate buzz around fans and media alike, Boudreau says he believes that Eakin will do "whatever it takes" to stick, that he loves his makeup as a player, and that he expects a very tough decision after training camp on his future.

More to come later.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Off the Radar: Dark Horses at Camp

D-man Sam Carrier is one of a few new faces that could make an impact.
With Capitals development camp starting on Monday, many people are excited to get out to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to see both near and distant future Caps and get a glimpse of what they may be able to bring to the big club.  Almost all of DC's top prospects will be there, including Cody Eakin, Stan Galiev, Dmitry Orlov, and Mattias Sjogren, though here will be one notable absence as top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov is currently rehabbing from shoulder surgery.  But outside of those elite guys, there are alot of young players who will be entering camp with much less fanfare and something to prove, perhaps earning an invite back for training camp in September.  And so, I've compiled a list of younger guns who may be pleasant surprises in the fall.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Capitals Trade Eric Fehr to Winnipeg

As first reported by Caps senior writer Mike Vogel, the Washington Capitals have traded right winger Eric Fehr to the Winnipeg Jets for a fourth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and right winger Danick Paquette.
Paquette, 20, played last season for the ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators, suiting up for 59 games and scoring 13 goals and 7 assists.  He also racked up 179 penalty minutes, a team-high.  He profiles as an agitating, hard-working, winger who will do dirty work in the corners; a role player.
Fehr, 25, has struggled with injuries since being drafted by the Capitals in the first round in 2003, and only put up 10 goals and 10 assists in 52 games this year.  He underwent shoulder surgery in May to repair significant damage, but is expected to be ready for camp.
I like this move, alot.  George McPhee managed to free up another $2.2 million in salary cap space without moving a crucial asset or a member of the team's core. It is hard to deny Fehr's effort and potential, but he just was not producing.  And so it goes.
With this move complete, the Caps are now about $400,000 under the salary cap with Karl Alzner still left to sign.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Trust Marcus Johansson?

Is 90 the answer this season to the second line?
As the buzz surrounding free agency slowly winds down, the Washington Capitals seem done acquiring new players via the open market.  The Caps have kept Brooks Laich, traded for Troy Brouwer, and signed defenseman Roman Hamrlik, center Jeff Halpern, winger Joel Ward, and goalie Tomas Vokoun in one of the biggest offseason spending sprees in recent memory.  George McPhee and his staff have added grit on the wings, a veteran defenseman, and an elite goalie to an already good team while, for the most part, keeping the core intact (Karl Alzner has not been re-signed at this time).
But despite all of these positive additions, there is one thing that the Capitals have not added, and that is a proven second line center. Washington has been missing a true #2 pivot since Sergei Fedorov jetted to the KHL in 2009, and many people, including me, felt as though locking up a player like this should be a priority for McPhee.  Alas, however, with all of the prime centers off the market, including last season's rental, the legendary Jason Arnott, the chances DC acquires this player by opening night is not very high.
As a result, it looks at this point as though young Marcus Johansson will be the secondary pivot come opening night.  At first glance, this may seem to many as a disaster waiting to happen.  Johansson is pretty small at only 5-11, 189, and he only has 78 games of NHL experience under his belt.  His 15 goals and 21 assists in those 78 games do not not look that impressive.  For a team with championship goals, entrusting such an important role to such a young player may seem like alot.
Well, it is.  There is no doubt that MoJo is a key to the Capitals' success this year, but unlike some others, I think he can handle it.  
For one, Johansson's second half, particularly his last month, was miles ahead of his first half in terms of consistency and production.  From October to February, Johansson scored six goals and recorded eight assists, and from March until the beginning of May, basically two months, the young Swede scored eight goals and recorded 13 assists...in half as many games.  Some may say that Jason Arnott opened up ice for him, I don't buy that, considering he was still able to put up numbers when Arnott was recovering from his knee surgery.  Johansson only got better as the year went along, and he is going to continue to get better.
Second, Johansson will likely be skating with at least one bruising winger this year pretty much the entire campaign.  Both Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer on board and either of the two (or maybe both) on his wings, few tough guys will take liberties with MoJo without fear of retaliation.  Their physical play along the boards and in corners will also free up more loose pucks for him to work with and open up ice for him to create in.  More ice = more offense, which equals a valuable second center.
Finally, Johansson is a very good all-around player, not just an offensive catalyst, which profiles an excellent second center.  He saw significant time on the penalty kill last year as the season reached it's latter stages, and he excelled in that role. Johansson also seems to be unafraid to block shots, which is equally paramount in Bruce Boudreau's new system, and he will get better at this as well as he gets older.  Oh, and there's the speed.  Johansson has a ton of it, and it will only increase his ability to develop into a two-way stud, as #2 centers should be.

Bottom line: Marcus Johansson will be 21 when the season opens.  He has nowhere to go but up.  Washington may "need" a second line center, but he can do it this year.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Capitals Sign Troy Brouwer

As first reported by Caps senior writer Mike Vogel, the Washington Capitals have agreed to terms with RFA right wing Troy Brouwer on a two-year, $4.7 million contract.  Brouwer, 25, who was acquired by the Capitals on June 24th for Washington's first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, scored 17 goals and had 36 points for the Chicago Blackhawks last season.
As for the deal itself, it locks up one of two restricted free agents the Caps had left to sign, the other being Karl Alzner, but does so at an extraordinary cost. $2.35 million is a lot for a player of Brouwer's caliber and this signing puts Washington only $3.5 million under the expanded summer salary cap with Alzner left to sign.  Don't get me wrong, I love what Brouwer will bring to the Capitals, but this is starting to become a ridiculous strain on the salary cap and Alzner is essential.  Where does the money come from?  This is starting to make me nervous.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Crowded Nets

The obvious choice?
After the Capitals traded disgruntled goalie Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday for two draft picks, it was thought by most, and stated by George McPhee, that Washington would roll with youngsters Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby in goal this year. The general consensus, it seemed, was that Neuvirth would have the top spot and Holtby would see about 25 games. However, with the news Saturday afternoon that the Capitals had signed free-agent goaltender Tomas Vokoun to a one-year, $1.5 million deal, the DC net instantly became crowded again, and the situation was once again became hard to predict.  I know it's early, but this is fun: who's going to play?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Capitals Sign Tomas Vokoun

As first reported by TSN's Gord Miller, the Washington Capitals have signed free agent goaltender Tomas Vokoun to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.  Vokoun, 35, started 57 games for the Florida Panthers last season, winning 22 games and compiling a 2.55 GAA, .922 Save%, and six shutouts.
This move, while unexpected, seems to make sense for the Capitals, providing that they are still able to sign Troy Brouwer and Karl Alzner, who are both restricted free agents at this time.  $1.5 million for a goalie of Vokoun's caliber is absurd; he and Jose Theodore, for example, are making the same amount of money next year but Vokoun is like, really good, and stuff.  Both Vokoun and young starter Michal Neuvirth are Czech, which is certainly not a coincidence, and this move will both give the Capitals another veteran in the locker room and give them someone to stabilize the goalie situation if Neuvirth get's hurt.  This also allows Braden Holtby to mature at the AHL level for another year.
However, this deal leaves the Capitals with less than $600,000 of money left between their payroll and the salary cap.  There are a few scenarios to get them with enough money to sign Alzner and Brouwer, but the most likely one, at this point, is to trade Alexander Semin.  More as it becomes available.

Capitals Sign Chris Bourque

As first reported by Caps senior writer Mike Vogel, the Washington Capitals have signed left wing Chris Bourque to a one-year contract.  The financial details of the deal are not available at this time, though it is believed to be a two-way deal.
Bourque, 25, is a former Capitals farmhand who split time between Russia's KHL and Switzerland's A-League last season while scoring 34 total points (15 goals) in 47 games. The Boston, MA, native won three Calder Cups while in the Washington's AHL affiliate the Hershey Bears, and his acquisition is, at this point, likely organizational depth.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Capitals Sign Roman Hamrlik, Joel Ward

As first reported by TSN's Gord Miller, the Washington Capitals have signed free agent defenseman Roman Hamrlik and free agent winger Joel Ward.  Hamrlik has been signed for two years, $7 million, while Ward has signed for four years, $12 million.
These deals are both way too much money. Hamrlik is old, 37, and the Caps have several aging and injured defensemen as it is.  He played in 79 games last year for the Habs, scoring five goals and adding 29 assists.  He's serviceable, but he is only going to get worse and 3.5 million dollars per year is far too steep.  Ward, on the other hand, is 30 years old and is cashing in on a playoffs for the Nashville Predators that saw him score 13 points (seven goals) in 12 games.  He played in 80 games last year and scored ten goals and 29 points.  These are the kinds of deals that I hate, giving players alot of money based on the playoffs.  Not smart.

Where does the money for Karl Alzner and Troy Brouwer come from now?

Capitals Trade Semyon Varlamov to Colorado

As first reported by Capitals senior writer Mike Vogel, the Washington Capitals have traded goaltender Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalance for a first-round pick in the 2012 draft and a second round pick in either 2012 or 2013.  This ends weeks of speculation around Varlamov's future and, to be frank, makes him Colorado's problem.  Neuvy time.
This is a steal, period.  The ninja, George McPhee, is at it again.  Two draft picks, including a lottery pick, for Varly?  Boom.

Capitals Sign Jeff Halpern

As first reported by TSN's Gord Miller, the Washington Capitals have signed free agent center and former Caps captain Jeff Halpern to a one-year deal worth $825,000.  Halpern played for the Montreal Canadiens last year, suiting up for 72 games and scoring 11 goals to go along with 15 assists.  He will play a fourth-line, veteran role with the Capitals and I really like this move.  Halpern can win faceoffs, play good defense, and assist on the penalty kill.
This move coincides with former Capital Boyd Gordon signing with the Phoenix Coyotes on a two-year, $2.65 million deal.  Halpern brings pretty much the same skill set considerably cheaper.
More as it becomes available.

Free Agent Fun!

And so, it begins.
As of 12:01 PM on Friday, July 1st, NHL free agency period has begun, and it is time for those decisions to be made.  With Semyon Varlamov's apparent jump to the KHL, the Capitals currently have eight NHL free agents left to pursue.  Karl Alzner, Semyon Varlamov and Troy Brouwer are the restricted free agents while Scott Hannan, Matt Bradley, Jason Arnott, Boyd Gordon, and Marco Sturm are unrestricted. With under $10 million in salary cap to work with, the Capitals' options are limited, and that will certainly make keeping the role section of this team intact. Nevertheless, here are the current situations of each free agent:
Semyon Varlamov: Rumors about Varly over the last three days have spread like wildfire, but it was confirmed last night that he has NOT signed in the KHL and his hometown team will not trade his rights to SKA St. Petersburg, his desired destination.  At this point, there is literally no prediction as to what could happen with him tomorrow.
Troy Brouwer: The Capitals and Brouwer have supposedly been in contract discussions since he was acquired last Friday at the draft.  Based on what the Caps gave up to get him and how glowingly George McPhee has spoken of him, he seems a lock to be signed.
Karl Alzner: Washington's most important free agent, Caps reporter Steve Whyno reported yesterday that there is a "significant gap" for Washington and Alzner to bridge before he signs.  However, due to his essential role within the club and the price of signing another team's restricted free agent, it seems very likely that he will be back in DC.
Matt Bradley: The professor has not been offered a contract by the Capitals and does not expect his phone to ring with DC on the other end of the line.  He appears to be out as a Cap, sadly.
Marco Sturm: Like Bradley, he has not been offered a contract and does not expect one from the Capitals.  He, too, seems done in DC.
Scott Hannan: Hannan, like Bradley and Sturm, has not received an offer.  He will test the market, but I could definitely see him coming back for the right price. There is a chance.
Jason Arnott: Arnott has received an offer, but is set to test the open market before making a decision.  It seems unlikely that he is back at this point, given how much money he is likely to ask for.  But you never know.
Boyd Gordon: No details involving Gordo's contract status have been released, but one would assume that George McPhee is working on holding on to his top defensive center for at least one more year.  I think he is about a 60-40 chance to re-sign.

For more info on these players, click here.