Capitals Trade Deals and Contracts: Summary

What a strange summer this has been friends. The Caps schedule extended into June for the first time that most of us can remember. There was partying in the streets!! As we watched the Stanley Cup Parade we pondered what deals the Washington Capitals would make with their restricted and unrestricted players.

We knew that Brian MacLellan and his team would be making some hard calls to sign top players like a John Carlson and Tom Wilson.

Here is what went down:

Let’s start at the top. Barry Trotz did not accept a two-year extension with the Capitals. Instead he took a job with the NY Islanders. He brought Lane Lambert and Mitch Korn with him. The Capitals named Todd Reirden as the new head coach.  Joining as the assistant coach was Reid Cashman, although the Caps haven’t officially announced yet.

Hockey n Heels Grubauer 2018First there was the Philipp Grubauer deal to the Colorado Avalanche. The Caps may not have necessarily gotten him the best deal but they got the salary cap space they needed. In the midst of the draft they traded him, and fellow teammate Brooks Orpik, in exchange for a second round draft pick. As the week unfolded, there were other possible teams where he could have landed a starting position- within the Eastern Conference- which some suggested the Caps did not want to happen.

Orpik June 2018Brooks Orpik went to Colorado with Grubi. Word was quickly leaked that the Avs would buy out his contract and place him on waivers. The Caps couldn’t afford to buy out his contract and they needed the space. The AVS went on to buy out his contract, making him a free agent and eligible to sign wherever he wanted.

AND THEN HE WAS BACK! It doesn’t happen too often but it all worked for the best for the Capitals. They were able to bring back the PaPa of the locker room. Here is the story behind his  summer deal(s). 

Capitals CarlsonJohn Carlson was always the number one target for signing and it would take a good deal of money and a long-term commitment to make it happen. There were rumors that Carly was going to look around; however, the Capitals were able to come to agreement with Carlson, settling on eight years and $64 million.

That still left a few in the wind. Mac had already said that next to Carlson, his priority was signing Michal Kempny. And of course there remained additional UFAs Jay Beagle and Alex Chiasson. Throw in RFA’s Devante Smith-Pelly and Tom Wilson and it was anyone’s guess how they would sign the rookies on the roster.

DspDevante Smith-Pelly, the darling of the playoffs, was not given a qualifying offer by the deadline and became a UFA. We were not too surprised as we predicted they might go that route. Then on June 27, the Caps and DSP reached an agreement for an additional year at $1 million. This could be his breakout season!

Stanley Cup Game three kempnyThe Capitals followed up with a four year, with an average of $2.5 million a year, deal for Kempny to keep playing with Carly. We didn’t anticipate a four-year contract; however, we think it is a great investment for the team.

Young dudes Madison Bowey, Travis Boyd, Liam O’Brien, and Riley Barber were provided qualifying offers. O’Brien rejected his offer.

Wilson signs (2018-04-07-2113)Tom Wilson did receive a qualifying offer before the 5 pm deadline. It was weeks before the Capitals announced a deal. Late on 27 July the Capitals announced they and Tom had finally come to an agreement on a six-year $31.02 million contract.

And the Free Agency began on 1 July and things around the league heated up.

Parade capitals BeagleJay Beagle found himself looking in from the outside and accepted a very generous offer from the Vancouver Canucks. A four-year $12 million contract that the Caps were unable to match. We will miss him in the face off and talking to the fan.

Alex Chiasson went unsigned. Instead they signed Nic Dowd.

The Caps announced they re-signed center Travis Boyd to a two-year contract with an annual value of $800,000. Congrats to Boyd!

Liam O’Brien, with the Hershey Bears, opted to enter into contract arbitration. His hearing was scheduled for 23 July in Toronto. Thankfully they were able to come to terms and “The Big Tuna” signed a one year two-way contract for $650,000.

Madison Bowey inked his two-year $2 million deal on July 19. He is currently listed on the Caps roster and will likely play on the blue line in the upcoming season.

Now that contracts are in place for the UFAs and RFAs it is a matter of the Caps new head coach to make some decisions about who stays in DC and who goes to Hershey to mature their game a bit more. The Caps roster will no doubt have a lot of younger players for Reirden to develop into the superstars he needs.

Tom Wilson Siiiiiigned

SIGNED!!

That was all most of us wanted to know about Tom Wilson this summer.

We were notified today that Willy has signed a six-year contact for $31.02 million with an average annual value of $5.17 million.

Whew!

Tom Wilson was a restricted free agent this summer. His previous two-year contract was for $4 million or an average of $2 million a year. This new contract gives him a bump of $3.17 million per yearly average.

In the Capitals press release GM Brian MacLellan said: “Tom is an invaluable member of our team and we are pleased that he is committed to sign a long-term deal at this point in his career. Tom is a unique player in this League, in that he plays a physical game, leads by example and contributes in every facet of the game. At 24 years of age, he is just entering his prime and we believe that he will only continue to excel and improve as a player.”

Continue reading “Tom Wilson Siiiiiigned”

Capitals Summer Gets Busy; More Than Just the Cup

Now that the excitement has died down a bit over the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup– we joke- it’s time to look ahead to some key dates for the NHL:

Continue reading “Capitals Summer Gets Busy; More Than Just the Cup”

Justin Williams: Just What the Carolina Hurricanes Need?

williams canes cup

Once upon a time, the Carolina Hurricanes hoisted the Stanley Cup in victory. The year was 2006 and Justin Williams (former Capitals and LA Kings forward) was an integral part of the winning strategy for the team. It would be his first Game Seven win, with a shot into the empty net of the Edmonton Oilers.

Only one other player from the winning team remains on the current roster. Cam Ward was a rookie goalie at the time, having only played 28 games in the NHL. He was later awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league’s most valuable player in the playoffs. Unfortunately, his stats have decreased over time and newly acquired Scott Darling is likely to be in the number one spot this season.

So what does Williams bring? The Washington Capitals have nothing but good things to say about his locker room presence as well as his tenacity on the ice. When he entered free agency he is reported to have said: “I want to go to a team that has a chance to win.” The Hurricanes need someone with the kind of determination J-Will has to bring his leadership from the locker room to the ice. At 35, he has a world of experience to share with his teammates – including what it is like to win three Stanley Cups and to play on a team that couldn’t get past themselves in the second round.

Returning to his former home “Stick” has said, “I want to be an impact player for a long time and I plan on being one the next couple years as well.” The veteran player has that potential with a relatively young group of players on the Hurricanes. He really is looking forward to his time (two years) in Raleigh saying: “You just want to help guide as best you can, because you know what it takes, and you know what works and what doesn’t, a lot of the time.” Williams, who had one of his best goal-scoring years since leaving Carolina, recorded 24 goals and 24 assists last season. He continued to be a force in the playoffs for the Caps, with one game-winning goal.

On a personal note, Justin will be joined by his wife Kelly and two children Jade and Jaxon. They are his pride and joy! Jaxon has been seen skating at Kettler Ice Rink in Virginia and will likely continue his training with dad in Raleigh. Born in Cobourg, Ontario, Williams in June 2017 became a naturalized US citizen having lived in the US since he was 16. He hosts an annual camp back in Cobourg and is active in raising funds for disadvantaged children to play hockey. The Williams family will be a great asset for Raleigh and The Research Triangle.

Capitals and Fans on Social Media Thursday: 29 June

Welcome to the Thursday Tweet and Social Media summary.

Free Agency is just around the corner and we are all guessing about who gets signed and where others might find new homes.

Development Camp Continues with honing skills.

Camp looks different this year

Become a Red Rocker

And Stuff:

Today in History:

Caps and Fans on Social Media Monday – 26 June

It’s Monday in Hockey Town and there is a lot going on for the Washington Capitals.

The 5 pm deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents has now passed. What do we know so far?

Per Isabelle and Tarik:

Caps Development Camp and Fan Fest starts on Tuesday. Here is info about prospects and getting to Kettler:

Even the Bears will  be there!

Our guide to it all: 

Nicky:

Trotz

And on this day!

Washington Capitals: Much Ado about Nothing

The Caps are sitting pat – sort of.

General Manager Brian MacLellan finally emerged on Tuesday to talk about the past and future season. The big takeaway?  Don’t look for any major changes or anything unexpected. To be clear:

  • They are NOT NOT trading Alexander Ovechkin. Duh.
  • Yes, he is STILL the captain!!
  • They are NOT changing the coaching staff. (We think this is their last chance though.)
  • They are working to come to terms with TJ Oshie – terms that won’t break the bank.
  • No buyouts. That most likely would have applied to Brooks Orpik.

GMBM seems to have faith in the team they have; however, they are also looking for a younger, faster team which will mean moving up those younger players as veteran players begin to show a decline in their performance. As we said in our previous article, that mostly applies to Ovechkin, Backstrom, Beagle, and Niskanen (the over 30 crowd). Mac indicated that his top four defensemen are Niskanen, Carlson, Orlov, and Schmidt (per Washington Post) so we would expect that once Oshie is locked down, they will sign Orlov and Schmidt. Brett Connolly could be back as well. At least is sounds like he will be given a qualifying offer.

Others still to sign are Kuznetsov, Burakovsky, and Grubauer.

The writing is on the wall for the following players who are unlikely to be wearing red sweaters next season:

Karl Alzner

Dan Winnik

Justin Williams

Kevin Shattenkirk

And we still expect Phillip Grubauer to head to Las Vegas.

We aren’t terribly surprised by the news. We know that signing Oshie is a priority and that creates a domino effect for the remaining RFAs and UFAs. If the Capitals want a younger team that they can mold into a playoff winning team, it will require the loss of a couple of favorite players and the slotting of some rookies in those positions.

The dust hasn’t even begun to settle but one thing is clear: certain players and coaches have been put on notice. Put up or face a trade or firing. No one is immune, not even Ovechkin or Trotz. We think the owners are serious about winning the cup, maybe  REALLY serious for the first time ever. And they are willing to make some tough changes if that is what it takes.
Stay tuned friends, we have all of June to figure this one out!!

Celebrating Evgeny Kuznetsov: HAPPY BIRTHDAY KUZY

Russian player Evgeny Kuznetzov celebrates his 25th birthday between IIHF World Ice Hockey matches. Team Russia defeated Team Czech in the quarter-finals on Thursday in Paris , France and Saturday will meet Team Canada in Cologne, Germany. Kuzy earned two assists in the game.

Kuzy is a restricted free agent and hopefully in the midst of contract negotiations with the Washington Capitals. His current two-year contract of $6 million with a $3 million annual cap, ends in a few weeks. The Capitals have the option to offer him a better, longer contract or to release him for another team to pick him up. We know, for example, that the KHL would love to have him come home and play. As the Caps management team look at over all salary cap numbers they have to be considering the long-term benefit of a player like Kuznetsov and that means looking at what he has done under the previous contract.

Kuznetsov has been working to improve his game; unfortunately it isn’t evident in his stats this season. In his third full year of playing with the Caps, he dropped from a previous high overall points recorded of 77 to 59. While his goal scoring was pretty static (20 dropping to 19), his assist number dropped 57 to 40. His plus/minus dropped from 27 to 18. His power play production dropped, as did his shots indicating that he has not been contributing as much to the teams scoring chances.

  • One thing for sure is that Kuzy is a valuable asset when it comes to the playoffs. He scored five goals with a total of 10 points overall. These numbers were up from last season’s two points and slightly better than 2015.

And yet, we still love him and have faith that he will improve. Witness what he is doing with his homeland team. We know he is fully capable of being one of the leading contributors to a winning team. He is just one of the players that for whatever reason didn’t seem to have the right scenario for scoring. However, in the coming season he is going to need to create those chances himself, regardless of which line he is one and with whom he is playing.

Kuzy has an irrepressible joy and lightheartedness. He caught reporters off guard when he walked in during the post-playoff life and asked: “Why you act like someone died?”  He takes the game seriously but also has the right ‘move on’ attitude that the team needs to have going into the new season. Evgeny said he likes this team and wants to return. We hope he will.

For more on Kuzy’s hockey journey, check out our post from earlier this year. Click here!

Grubauer Proves in Worlds He is Ready to be Number One

We love Philipp Grubauer. He has really proven himself this past season. Coach Trotz gave him plenty of opportunities to shine and shine he did. Lets look back at the his performance this season and at Worlds where he was beyond incredible.  So we start with his overall stats.

  •  He played in 24 games with 13 wins with two wins in overtime and three shutout games.
  • He saved .926 percent of shots fired at him and ranking him fourth in the league overall. FYI- Braden Holtby had a .925 this year.
  • He only played 19 minutes in the playoffs, jumping in for Holtby on a bad night. Unfortunately he let in two goals on nine shots. But then again, he hadn’t played in weeks.

And then there is the IIHF Worlds in which he played for Team Germany. It can be said that he saved his motherland from extreme embarrassment. The team only had 20 shots on goal and did not score until late in the third period. DSC_0501Grubi on the other hand had an amazing 48 saves letting only two goals from Team Canada through. And we know how Canada plays which makes this an even more impressive story. He was without a doubt the star of the game. At one point we think nearly every other sentence was: “Grubauer saves.”

Grubauer continues to improve and mature with every year he plays. The Capitals are fortunate to have two powerful goalies minding the net. Under Coach Barry Trotz and goalie coach Mitoch Korn he has sharpened his skill and had much more time to show what he has to offer.

We know that Grubi is one of the top names the media is bantering around for Las Vegas. After all George McPhee is very familiar with why the Caps brought him into the organization–they always figured he would be in the NHL, even as a potential starting goalie.  The Caps could offer him a new contract which would include a bump in salary as mandated by the NHL and NHL PLayer’s Association of “no less than 110% of player’s salary.”  If he doesn’t accept the offer he is free to consider other teams come 1 July.

Except of course where the Las Vegas Knights are concerned. Again, according to the NHL rules: “Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:

a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender

b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender”

That means, one goaltender is NOT protected. And then there is the clause that says: One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

Grubauer meets the unprotected criteria.  This is why many of us believe he has played his last season with the Capitals.

We don’t want to see him go. He has been part of the Caps family since he began playing for the Stingrays in the 2011 season. We watched him go back and forth to Hershey before coming up to the NHL. However, we always want the best for our “family” and if that means moving to a warmer climate – we know he is ready and will do us proud.

Caps Post Season: T.J. Oshie–Can’t Afford to Let Him Go…

…or can’t afford to keep him? That’s the $20 million plus question. His current contract, which he signed with the St. Louis Blues in 2012 was five years for $20,875,000. Right now he receives  $4.175 million a year and given his performance with the Caps this year, it’s a sure thing he will be looking for more money and at least as long a term as his previous contract. At a minimum we would expect him to seek $30 million for five years.

It’s important to look beyond Oshie’s captivating performance in the 2014 Olympics when he became a shootout sensation. What matters most is what he brought to to the Caps and what he could bring.

On the plus side, like Alex Ovechkin he brought in the crowds. Fans couldn’t wait to see him when he first arrived at Kettler Ice Plex where the Caps practice. It seemed to take him a little while to get in the groove with the team but once he did he became one of the most exciting players to watch.

  • He developed little on-ice rituals with Tom Wilson. And of course there was the jump off the ice at warm ups. He is one to always smile and lighten the mood with the other players.
  • He plays with speed and tenacity. His shot is powerful. He is impressive on the ice and has made a home with fellow teammates off the ice.

And what did he contribute when on the ice? In 148 regular season games he recorded 59 goals and 48 assists. In 25 playoff games he racked up 10 goals and 12 assists. He has definitely improved his scoring percentage since coming the Washington.

  • He and Ovechkin tied for 13th place in the league this past season with 33 goals each. He was 12th in the league for even-strength goals (25).
  • When it comes to shooting, he was seventh on the team with 143 shots on goals. He has the highest shooting percentage, not only on the team but in the league this season at 23.1 percent.
  • He had less time on ice then Oveckin, Nicklas Backstrom, or even Evgeny Kuznetsov and still had higher numbers.
  • He plays defense without a second thought. He actually has 50 blocks in the season; sixth on the team behind the lead defensemen.

When you consider these statistics it is hard to imagine that the Capitals would not consider offering him a generous contract. We know that the 30 year-old winger (soon to be 31) has been instrumental in the success of the Caps the past two season. He has been relatively healthy with a few “upper body” injuries. Age shouldn’t be a major consideration when signing a player of Oshie’s caliber, especially when one looks around the league at successful ‘older’ players.

Keeping Oshie of course means making room in the salary cap for his expanded contract. That could mean letting go of some free agents such as Karl Alzner or Justin Williams. It would be a darn shame for the Oshie’s if the decision is to keep TJ and cut loose Karl as the families have become close, even vacationing together.

On the flip side, there certainly are plenty of teams who would snatch up Oshie in a heartbeat. Its hard to know who he could be a better fit then with the Washington Capitals, but you never know in this sport.

For us, we vote in favor of keeping Oshie for his skill, his positive influence, and because we think he has the leadership chops to stir up the team next season. The Caps need someone in the locker room who sees the glass half full and from everything we have seen, TJ looks to be that guy.

If Oshie stays, who do you recommend the Caps sacrifice in order to afford him?