Saturday, July 28, 2007

Caps Have Cap Space

The Washington Capitals still have a little more cap space to play with if they really wanted to. Depending on the Milan Jurcina's deal is (I don't expect it to be above $1.5 million) the Caps still have about $16 million to play around with. They may still be on the lurk for more players, or maybe happy with the lot they have.

The list of free agents is shrinking, rapidly. But do the Caps need more? Signing Michael Nylander, Tom Poti, and Viktor Kozlov over the off season has proved positive for the Caps who seem to be appeasing their fans. But with a loaded talent pool like the Caps, how much is too much?

There is no question that the future of the Capitals looks good. While they may not be ready just yet to take the reigns, it's comforting to know that the Capitals have a future. But if the Caps do try to fill their cap space, which of those young players will miss out on valuable NHL playing time. Talent can only grow so far in the minors.

And even if the Caps were looking to sign more, what more could they get? Yet another defenseman, a goaltender, another center? The depth chart is looking pretty thick right now for the Caps.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Jurcina Signed

Milan Jurcina, a trade deadline acquire, is now a Capital for 2 years. Jurcina showed some promise in the waining moments of last season. This is a good keep by the Caps in my opinion. Jurcina is big plus for this team.

Laich's Back

Brooks Laich was awarded a one year $725,000 contract by an arbitrator. It was unlikely that Laich was going to get too much more than last year since his numbers was not really an improvement.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

No News Is Good News

It's getting to that part of year where everything slows to a crawl, in terms of news anyway. Besides some sightings of Jeff Halpern skating around with Brent Johnson and Brian Potheir at the Kettler Iceplex, not a lot is going on.

A few teams have come out with their new jerseys, and a few signings here and there. Brooks Laich's arbitration is the only thing worth mentioning about the Caps. I will take no news as good news for the Capitals.

How about some Caps playing with the boys of summer:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Yashin Making A Big Mistake

He may just be tired of the schedule, or speaking the language, or just tired of the brokering that goes on in the NHL. Whatever the case, Alexei Yashin is picking up his sticks and he is going home. He signs a one year deal with Russian Superleague Locomotiv.

Yashin will be a big fish in a small pond returning home, but that also means that he doesn't want to play the best in the world. He would rather go home. That is good and all if I felt he was really getting shafted by the NHL free agent system. But even if he did get something as small as $2.25 million (the largest figure I heard that was offered to him), he still makes $8 million from his buy out from New York Islanders. If it's about the money, it's a pretty poor excuse.

It could be that Yashin is just not into the NHL. That is good and all, but why have your agent out pushing bigger numbers on teams interested? It is clear to me that Yashin wanted it all, the big contract and more millions to play in the NHL. The NHL just didn't want to give that to him.

Yashin makes a mistake here because he damages all hope of getting on a NHL team in the future. General managers will seriously think twice about asking the forward back after taking a year off in a less that caliber league than the NHL. This maybe the last we see Yashin in the NHL.

If you want to be the best, you play against the best.

On a side note, it's old news I know. Caps sign Jamie Hunt and David Steckel to a one and two year contracts respectively. Not sure if either one will see time in the NHL. There are always surprises when camp comes around.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Clark Signs Extension

The Capitals captain is on board for another 3 years. A deal that is worth $7.9 million. Things will change drastically for Chris Clark. His time on the top line may have past. Leaving the possibility of starting position on the checking line instead.

But for Clark that isn't the issue. As on Tarik notes in the Post this morning:
"I got a lot [of ice time] the past couple of years because of what we had on our team," Clark said. "If things change next year, if we're winning, I don't care. I could be the third-string goalie and that would be fine."
Clark as a goaltender, now I would love to see that.

Dave Fay Passes

Washington Times reporter Dave Fay, a long time Capitals beat writer, passed away Tuesday night.

Many Bloggers have counted on Fay's articles, using them as a reference many times. He will be missed not only by Washingtonians, but Caps fans and NHL fans alike.

Dave Fay was 67.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Caps Keep A Couple

Steve Eminger and Brian Sutherby are inked for another season with the Capitals. Both players will need to improve on their numbers for this next season and both signed one year deals.

That leaves seven restricted free agents with Brooks Laich and Milan Jurcina going to arbitration. It's going to be harder for these players to fit in with recent off season signings. While some players like Jurcina will see some playing time, players like Laich and Sutherby have work to do to gain a full time spot as a center on the third and fourth lines when camp begins.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

So You're Bored

Yea me too. There seems to be a hockey hang over since the Caps rookie camp concluded. If you are looking for some NHL action, check out's video page. More specifically the highlights of the "Hits of the Month" for Dec. The second highlight in should bring a smile to your face (if your a Caps fan).

Also you can search players name on and get their most recent goals still available. Going back and watching Semin and Ovechkin score, makes you realize that those rookies have a ways to go.

If you wondering if the Caps are all finished signing free agents the answer is no. There are still good players that have yet to find homes (Yashin, Bondra, Dale Hunter).

I am not the biggest soccer fan, I admit. But I am taken in by the media and fan frenzy of Beckham coming to the US, only to find out he may not even play Saturday. He is listed day-to-day with a swollen ankle. I could probably stand to watch 5 minutes of soccer... or not. When is real football supposed to start again?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Random Thoughts

I was thinking I would have some time off to take in some Capitals' rookie camp this weekend to give you my thoughts on it, but I don't. So instead your gonna have to take someone else's word on it. Tarik does an excellent job.

I saw that a couple of ex-Caps found new homes. Alexandre Giroux signed with the Thrashers. I think there was a lot of pressure for Giroux to make dividends for the Capitals that he couldn't deliver. So instead he will grow in the Atlanta farm system. We may see him in a Thrasher uniform a couple of times if injuries plague the Atlanta squad, but I do not see him making much noise there.

Lawrence Nycholat got a nice chunk from the Senators who have some faith in the young defender. I thought Nycholat never got a chance to really fit in to his NHL duds before getting sent down time and time again with the Caps. Ottawa would be smart to give this kid some more than just injury duty in the big leagues.

On a final note, I signed up DC Sportschick seeing how she approves of such behavior. I tried to get a private audition for Japer, but they said no.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Danger Zone

Pittsburgh wasted little time keeping their little nugget close to the steel city. Sid "the Kid" Crosby signed an extension with the Penguins to stay in Pitt until 2013. As Crosby puts pen to paper in western Pennsylvania, many here in the nation's capital are shooting an eye at the Caps management hoping for some kind of extension offered to Alex Ovechkin.

Then this week Ovie revealed that he has no agent at the moment and is talking to management on his own. Not that this is unusual, but it teeters on a very dangerous line of legality. The fact that Ovie does not have representation and the contract no doubt will be in a legal tone of English could lead to problems down the road.

I am not saying that Uncle Ted or GMGM are trying to pull one over on Ovie, but as a lawyer friend pointed out to me, here is a kid whose first language is not English and he is negotiating with a team of lawyers and career deal makers that know how to hide clauses and explain traps away in order to get the contract signed. That could be a recipe for disaster.

A single misunderstanding because Ovie doesn't understand the meaning of the word reciprocity could spell disaster. "If the Capitals were smart," my lawyer friend continued, "they should have someone independent to look over the contract before anyone signs."

Here is the thing, lawyers think like lawyers. There is no common sense clause or we-will-deal-with-that-later or "you will have to just trust me" statements. Every base is covered and every legal step is taken to protect the team. If Ovie is left exposed, he could be spun into a misunderstanding about what he was promised and what was signed.

While I believe that some agents are a complete scumbags, the more and more I realize that it's not that bad of an idea for someone trying to navigate the world of foreign legal systems. If I were to sign a contract in Italy after only spending a year there and learning the language, I may want to get some one to give that contract a good once over that was a) knowledgeable of contracts in Italy's courts and b) speaks Italian fluently.

I am sure there is a lot of good faith on both sides and there is little to worry about. It just makes me squirm a bit to think that if there is a way for the Capitals to screw it up, they just might.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Atlanta Flashers

Okay, for lack of better taunting name for the Southeast rivals, the Capitals start the season on the road in Atlanta against the Blousers. That is bad too. The Caps announce their schedule yesterday and their first home game is October 6th, against the Hurricanes (or as my wife calls them, a stiff wind).

Rookie Camp apparently is going well. I had the chance to check out some of the drills yesterday and caught the first 30 minutes of the scrimmage. I had just a couple thoughts about the rookie camp. Oskar Osala is a big kid. Listed as 6'4", 222 lbs., he has some good speed too for a big guy. He is no defenseman either, listed as a left winger, he does have some soft hands. His speed and hands make him an eyebrow raiser for the coaching staff.

Nicklas Backstrom doesn't really belong in this group, and you can kind of tell that he thinks that too. During drills Nick basically skated around everyone, and he was just playing on another level. But during scrimmage, he looked half speed in the first 30 min. Granted, I couldn't stay for the entire session and I am just going off of what I had seen, but Nick didn't move his feet and hardly backed-checked. Wash Post did a feature on him, good read.

Joe Finley seemed timid to me, as well as Karl Alzner. The two defensemen prospects sometimes seemed lost during drills, but were both able to quickly pick up after a couple of mistakes. Neither showed any physical presence during the scrimmage. I am sure all of that will change as camp goes on.

Simeon Varlamov is a great goaltending talent. But just needs a little more experience. The Caps did sign the Russian goaltender who seems excited to be in DC playing for the Capitals. His reflexes are good, pretty solid positioning. He was by far the best goaltender at camp.

Other than that, it looked like many of those kids were starting their a life of career AHLers. A few did show their speed, but just seemed to lack those stand out skills. Again, it's early in camp and I am sure their will be more fireworks as camp plugs along. As players try to impress coaches, the level of hitting, stick handling and passing should start to rise.

On a final note, the practice jerseys the Caps had, both in white and navy looked very good.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rookie Camp Roster Set

Tomorrow is the start of rookie camp for the Washington Capitals. Now they have the roster of players that will be taking the ice early tomorrow morning at the Kettler. Among the players, the ones I will be watching for will be recent draft pick Karl Alzner, Nicklas Backstrom, and Joe Finley.

It will be interesting to see what this group is going to do to impress the coaching staff to propel their hockey careers. It's obvious that only a select few will be marked for full time NHL duty, others will be fighting for those Hershey spots that seem to be getting more loaded with every off season signing Caps management completes.

New to the fold is right winger Joe Motzko, of recent Anaheim Duck fame. He was called up for 3 playoff games, but scored no points. Motzko may not be a starter, but he is yet another player to fill the roster with. I guess GMGM doesn't want to get burned by injuries again.

Here is a list of players that have their bags packed for camp:

19 Nicklas Backstrom, C Draft (1st, 2006)
29 Jamie Hunt, D Free Agent
30 Michal Neuvirth, G Draft (2nd, 2006)
31 Daren Machesney, G Draft (5th, 2005)
34 Sasha Pokulok, D Draft (1st, 2005)
36 Francois Bouchard, RW Draft (2nd, 2006)
40 Simeon Varlamov, G Draft (1st, 2006)
41 Theo Ruth, D Draft (2nd, 2007)
42 Sami Lepisto, D Draft (3rd, 2004)
45 Steve Werner, RW Draft (3rd, 2003)
46 Patrick McNeill, D Draft (4th, 2005)
47 Karl Alzner, D Draft (1st, 2007)
48 Oskar Osala, LW Draft (4th, 2006)
49 Viktor Dovgan, D Draft (7th, 2005)
54 Oscar Hedman, D Draft (5th, 2004)
57 Kyle Wilson, C Free Agent
58 Maxime Lacroix, LW Draft (5th, 2006)
59 Joe Finley, D Draft (1st, 2005)
61 Andrew Joudrey, C Draft (8th, 2003)
62 Sean Collins, D Free Agent
63 Andrew Gordon, RW Draft (7th, 2004)
65 Andrew Glass, LW Draft (7th, 2007)
67 Justin Taylor, C Draft (6th, 2007)
70 Justin Mrazek, G Draft (8th, 2004)
71 Travis Morin, C Draft (9th, 2004)
72 Pasi Salonen, LW Draft (5th, 2004)
73 Josh Godfrey, D Draft (2nd, 2007)
75 Phil DeSimone, C Draft (3rd, 2007)
76 Brett Bruneteau, C Draft (4th, 2007)
78 Brett Leffler, RW Draft (5th, 2007)
80 Dan Dunn, G Draft (6th, 2007)
85 Mathieu Perrault, C Draft (6th, 2006)
86 Luke Lynes, C Draft (4th, 2006)

Monday, July 09, 2007


... And the living is easy. At least until the Capitals rookie camp starts up this Wednesday. A full roster hasn't made it out yet but players likely to appear are Nicklas Backstrom, Karl Alzner, Simeon Varlamov, Sasha Pokulok Joe Finley, Michal Neuvirth along with Maryland natives Luke Lynes and Stephen Werner. Practices and scrimmages are open to the public at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Schedule.

The chances of these rookies making the squad depends on how they do in summer camp. No word if there will be smores or singing around the campfire after practice. The Caps are looking a little more loaded up with some summer signings like Tom Poti, Viktor Kozlov and Michael Nylander now in Capital sweaters. That means this rookie camp could be a fireworks show of talent if players wish to also be in the new red, white and blue.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

McPhee Short Circuts Oilers On Nylander

GMGM may have literally stole Michael Nylander from under the noses of the Oilers. At least that is what the Edmonton management claims. reports.

If that is true, what changed Nylander's mind. Was McPhee that convincing? Whatever the reason Kevin Lowe is not a happy camper. They complained to the NHL about the Caps signing Nylander after apparently sending Nylander the paperwork. But they never got the papers back signed.

If you want a more detailed look at it, goes into details on the Oilers end. Tarik also covered it in the Wash Post.

The whole thing is turning out to be quite the drama, at least in Edmonton. While here in DC the 4th of July and recent bombings overseas seems to be more on the minds of Washingtonians than a signing of a Swede to play hockey at the phone booth.

Why the Oilers are making some noise about this, I have no explaination other than they did everything they could except sign Nylander. There has to be a specific reason why Nylander would get the papers from the Oiler organization and set it down and sign with Washington.

In other free agent moves, Dainius Zubrus is now a NJ Devil. The Capitals did not resign the forward after his trade to Buffalo. Also Jiri Novotny was signed by Columbus after his option was not picked up by the Capitals after the Zubrus trade with the Sabres.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Caps land Nylander

Thank god. I really didn't watch any of the signings today for the very reason of reading the bad news about the Caps missing out on getting Michael Nylander. Sort of if you ignore bad news then it really isn't happening. It's a mid-west thing.

Instead, GMGM comes up big in landing Nylander who should make an immediate impact on the Capitals offensive consistency. When Uncle Ted said he wasn't going to do this rebuilding thing anymore, I can now say how serious he was.

Now players lower on the totem pole have to pick up their games, if they want to see any time on the ice. And talented players like Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin. At this point a lot of Caps fans are not only excited, but can start talking about a solid team now, not of one in the future.

The Capitals will be taking this season a little more serious. Which of course means that fans and management will be wanting one thing: results. The Caps have to start delivering on these promises of this team getting better. With what both Ted and George are doing, I can truly say that they are going for much more than a play off birth. They are building a team that will go farther than just a first round appearance.

I think a few more heads will turn when the Caps take the ice in the fall.

UFA Day An Okay One For Caps

The Washington Capitals were busy on the first day of July, jockeying for those unrestricted free agents to bolster their roster. The Caps were able to sign two players, defensemen Tom Poti and forward Viktor Kozlov. Wash Post has a more detailed look at the Caps' latest acquisitions.

Kozlov and Poti may have been in George McPhee's crosshairs for a while. Kozlov, a Russian that spent some time on the same line with Alex Ovechkin in Turin for the Olympics looks to help the winger.

Another problem the Caps experienced last season was a rough breakout. Bringing Tom Poti, a puck moving defensemen will help the Caps better break out of their zone, which better sets up a better offensive strike. He is also solid on the penalty kill.

The Caps have also been looking to add even more names to their free agent signing list like Alexei Yashin and possibly Micheal Nylander. It may be a long shot to land Nylander since the Caps don't look like they will be spending anything too crazy like a 8 year $52 million that the Flyers extended Daniel Briere.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Caps Sign Kozlov

Caps keep the free agents coming by signing another NY Islander Viktor Kozlov. Kozlov will get a two year, $5 million contract.

A veteran Russian, Kozlov is an exceptional playmaker, but not a consistent scorer. Kozlov will however greatly help Semin and Ovechkin adjust better to the NHL.

Caps Sign Poti

Caps land a free agent, NY Islander Tom Poti will be wearing the spiffy new uniform next season for the Capitals. story here.

Poti will bloster the Capitals blue line. He will bring more experience to the Defensive line, along with some size and some good passing skills. Poti landed a four year, $14 million contract from GMGM.

Richard Zednik signed with Florida, and will be a divisional foe for the Caps. That worked out well.

Editor's Note - 3:48pm - Briere signed with Philly for 8 years $52 million.

Happy Canada Day

To all my Canadien friends, Happy Canada day!

Oh, and free agents can sign with other teams today too. Will the Caps land a free agent? The suspense is so exciting I could just spit!