Archive for June 2008

Cap Set

June 26, 2008

As expected, the salary cap for the 2008-09 season will come in upwards of $56 million. The exact number is $56.7 million. With the 10% off-season cushion, NHL teams will be able to carry a payroll of as much as $62.37 million between July 1 and opening night.

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Caps Qualify Five

June 25, 2008

The Capitals today issued qualifying contract offers to defensemen Mike Green and Shaone Morrisonn and forwards Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon and Brooks Laich. The offers allow Washington to retain exclusive negotiating rights with these players even beyond July 1, when the five would gain restricted free agent (RFA) status if they have not yet come to terms with the team.

Washington did not tender qualifying offers to defenseman Jamie Hunt and forward Stephen Werner, making both players unrestricted free agents (UFA). 

More Draft Stuff

June 25, 2008

The 2008 NHL Entry Draft is now a few days into the rear view mirror, but we’re not quite finished with the draft yet. On today’s edition of the Capitals Report (weekly podcast) at washingtoncaps.com, Brett Leonhardt and I will be joined by Capitals director of amateur scouting Ross Mahoney. As has been our custom for the first show after the draft, Ross will join us to discuss the Caps’ picks and the draft in general.

Join us if you can at 2 p.m. today, and if you cannot join us but would like to contribute to the discussion you can send questions/comments to capitalsreport@washcaps.com.

Looking forward to hanging out with you all in a couple hours.

Put Cancer On Ice

June 23, 2008

Dave Fay has been absent from Washington’s hockey landscape for almost a year now, and I still think of him fondly and frequently.

He was in my thoughts constantly as the Capitals barreled down the stretch of the 2007-08 season and squeaked into the playoffs. I thought of him at Alex Ovechkin’s post-hardware party at Teatro Goldoni the week before last, wondering what he would have thought of the event. I thought of him often at the NHL Entry Draft this past weekend. Bengt Gustafsson was one of Dave’s all-time favorite Caps; Dave told me repeatedly that until Ovechkin came along, “Gus” was the most talented player ever to pull on a Capitals sweater.

Dave would have been happy and proud to see the Caps select Gus’s son Anton in the first round of the draft on Friday night.

After a long battle with cancer, Dave passed away last July. The good folks at Put Cancer On Ice held a memorial benefit game in his honor last summer, and they will do so again this summer. Here’s the press release: 

June 23, 2008 – Washington, DC  — Put Cancer On Ice™ (PCOI) has announced  that the Second Annual Dave Fay Memorial Hockey game will be held  Saturday July 19, 2008 at 8:30 p.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia.
 
Additionally this year, PCOI will hold a silent auction for authentic, autographed Capitals items including a Nicklas Backstrom jersey and a Young Guns signed and framed poster.
 
“Last year’s event was successful on many fronts and everyone had a great time despite the sad circumstances,” explained Gavin Toner, one of the co-chair’s of Put Cancer on Ice.  “Our regular monthly games have grown in participation and the Maryland versus Virginia format gives us all a chance for some good natured competition,” he continues.   
 
“We are honored and excited to again hold this event in recognition of Dave Fay.  His support of our sport and unbiased, reliable reporting of the Washington Capitals made him a favorite of players and fans alike. Dave’s untimely passing from cancer last year was a loss for so many and we are pleased to again donate all proceeds from this event to Hockey Fights Cancer,” offers Rob Keaton, co-chair.
 
Put Cancer On Ice™ and the monthly charity hockey games came to be through the combined efforts of Keaton, Toner and third co-chair, Ben Wilson, after discussions on the Washington Capitals message boards.  The 2007 Dave Fay Memorial raised nearly $2,000.00. With the addition of the silent auction and the expected increase in attendance, PCOI hopes to raise in excess of $4,000 this July 19th.
 
“We decided that if we were going to get a bunch of folks from the boards to play together, we felt it should certainly benefit something positive.   Since each of us has known someone with- or lost someone to-cancer, Hockey Fights Cancer seemed like the perfect charity,” explains Toner. 
 
“This event is something we each feel passionate about for so many reasons,” offers Keaton, a long-time Capitals fan.  “We have each tapped our own area of expertise to bring this event to fruition and we are looking forward to an evening of great hockey and fundraising.  What will continue to make this event successful is the participation of fans and donations of generous individuals and organizations throughout the community.”
 
We invite you to come out and watch the game and cheer on your home team as they play to win Lord Brown’s Boot and support the fight against cancer.  There is no admission fee to watch the game, but donations are always appreciated.
 
For registration forms and event information, visit the organization’s website at www.putcanceronice.org.
 
Contact:         Tiffany D. Keaton
                        Put Cancer On Ice
                        P: 434-760-3061
                        E: capsfansclassic@yahoo.com  
                        W: www.putcanceronice.org

It’s A Wrap

June 21, 2008

Every team is generally happy with its draft in the moments immediately following the draft’s conclusion. You won’t find a single GM or scouting director who will speak ruefully of “the ones that got away.”

Given that it will take years to make any real sense of the draft and to figure out which teams hit the home runs and which struck out, that stance is understandable. We’ll be able to look back at this draft sometime around 2012 or 2013 and see which players lived up their billing and their scouting reports, and which did not.

Caps GM George McPhee and director of amateur scouting Ross Mahoney have been at this for a long time. The duo has worked drafts together for a decade and they’ve honed their skills over that span, something that shows in the team’s improved draft record in recent years. Both men were happy with their haul this year, and it’s not just lip service. They accomplished what they hoped to accomplish, and hopefully the steady stream of talent that has flowed into the Washington organization for the last half decade will get another jolt with some of the eight players chosen this weekend.

The Caps had multiple first-round picks for the fourth time in five drafts and the fifth time in the last seven drafts. Fourteen first-rounders have been chosen in those seven drafts, and Steve Eminger is the only one who has departed the organization. The Capitals dealt Eminger to the Flyers on Friday for the pick that enabled them to select defenseman John Carlson.

In the last seven Entry Drafts, Washington has collected nine defensemen in the first or second rounds. In the previous eight drafts (1994-2001), the Caps took seven blueliners in the first two rounds. Those seven defensemen played a total of 146 games for Washington. 

Of the recent blueline bunch, Eminger and Mike Green have already surpassed that modest games played total all on their own, and Jeff Schultz is likely to do so this season.

In taking Braden Holtby with the 93rd pick, the Caps chose a goaltender for the fifth straight year. Washington has selected five goaltenders in the last four drafts, taking one in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. The rights of all five still belong to the Caps.

For a more thorough and insightful review of Washington’s weekend, I urge you to watch the videos we shot of McPhee and Mahoney as they talked about the Caps’ picks, as well as the other video from this week and weekend. Finally, as is our custom at this time of the year, we will attempt to book Mahoney as our guest on this week’s Capitals Report podcast. 

Day Two

June 21, 2008

The pace is noticeably quicker here today, thank Jah. We’re almost at the end of round three as I type this, hoping that the flimsy internet connection holds long enough for me to hit “publish.”

The Caps called a time-out as their twin late second-round picks approached. George McPhee told us he was weighing a handful of offers. 

“There was a lot going on,” he says. “You’ve got two picks there and everyone assumes you are going to move one, and we were. But it had to be for something that was better than what we could pick. There were a variety of things coming in.

“One team offers a prospect, one team offers a guy who is already signed and playing in the minor leagues, one team wants you to move back and they’re giving you the options of ‘our second next year plus this pick and this pick,’ and you’re trying to measure all that. Then you get back to your list and say, ‘Well, do we want to do any of that or do we take what we like here?’ We liked what was available to select. You just can’t let the clock influence what you’re going to do. You take a time-out.”

Washington ended up taking defenseman Eric Mestery at No. 57 and Russian winger Dmitri Kugryshev at No. 58.

The Caps used their fourth-round pick (93rd overall) to choose goaltender Braden Holtby of the Saskatoon Blades. Holtby is the first of Washington’s second-day picks who is in attendance here today. Holtby is a confident, well-spoken kid who missed the cutoff for last year’s draft by one day.

We will have video of our chat with Holtby plus video of Caps goaltending coach Dave Prior discussing Holtby on washingtoncaps.com shortly.

Belated Blog

June 21, 2008

Here’s how you can tell you’re at the NHL Draft: the wireless internet doesn’t work. Never does.

 

So rather than update the blog as things occur here on the draft floor, all I can do is write about them as they happen, then go back to the hotel and post this after you’ve all gone to sleep.

 

I figured there would be some trades this year’s and so far there have been a couple of good ones. I can’t believe the utter lack of value the Panthers got back for Olli Jokinen. To me, he’s a legit first line center. I like Keith Ballard a lot, but Nick Boynton was on waivers less than a year ago, and his lack of mobility is an issue. The Coyotes had the No. 8 overall pick and four more choices in the second round. And the best they could do was get the 49th. I’m not impressed.

 

Calgary finally moves Alex Tanguay; he goes to the Canadiens. And Brian Burke moves down, getting the No. 17 and No. 28 picks from the crosstown Kings for the No. 12. Los Angeles’ rebuild should get a jump start with two picks in the top dozen. That deal is a three-way swap that also sends center Mike Cammalleri to the Flames.

 

Stamkos to the Lightning. Doughty to the Kings. No surprises there. Bogosian to Atlanta. Pietrangelo to the Blues. Now the word from back here is that Toronto has moved up to take the No. 5 from the Isles. Sounds like Luke Schenn will be the pick, but we’ll see.

 

Pick No. 5 goes to the Leafs for pick No. 7 and at the Isles’ option, some other confusing stuff. My first thought is that it’s a lot to pay to move up two spots. Second thought is they really like Schenn. If that’s who they’re taking. It is.

 

Columbus makes a deal, getting R.J. Umberger from the Flyers for the 19th pick and exchanging a third for a fourth as well. Talking to Corey Masisak down by the rail, he thinks the Flyers are laying for a goalie at 19. Makes a lot of sense. We’ll see.

 

The Jackets keep the sixth pick and use it to take Nikita Filatov. I figured the Isles wanted him, and figured they could drop back to No. 7 and still get him. Nope, Columbus had other ideas. Now I’m thinking the Isles might drop back again.

 

The Isles do drop back, to No. 9. They make a deal with Nashville, which takes Colin Wilson. The Fishermen have accumulated three extra picks by dropping back four slots. They should still get a decent player, so that’s not bad.

 

Phoenix takes Mikkel Boedker at No. 8, and he supplants Lars Eller (13th overall to St. Louis in 2007) as the highest drafted Denmark native ever. Kind of thought the Yotes might grab a defenseman after having dealt away two of them, but you have to take the best player in the NHL Draft and I’m sure the Coyotes would tell you they did that.

 

Finally, the Islanders. They take Josh Bailey at No. 9. That’s four straight forwards in this, the Year of the Defenseman.

 

Vancouver is next. I wonder if they can move this pick for a forward. Or if they’ll take a forward. I’m thinking Tyler Myers has to go soon, like in the next couple of picks.

 

The Canucks take Cody Hodgson and then the Hawks take Kyle Beach. I really thought the Hawks would take Myers, given all the forwards they’ve taken the last few years. But it wasn’t too much of a surprise, because you could tell that Dale Tallon also really liked Beach.

 

The Kings convince Buffalo that they’re going to take the Sabres’ guy at 12, so the Sabres give L.A. a third next year to move from 13 to 12. They take Myers, ending a run of six straight forwards. The Kings pocket the pick and take Colten Teubert. Los Angeles has now plucked Doughty and Teubert, which ain’t too bad.

 

The Canes are up at 14 and they go with Zach Boychuk, one of the many small but skilled forwards in this draft. Nashville is up again now. I wonder if they might make a deal to move back, having already gotten their guy Wilson at No. 7.

 

Sure enough, the Preds get a third in ’09 to drop back to 18, and Ottawa makes the home folks happy by moving up. It’s always invigorating when the host team makes a splash at the draft, and the fans are really juiced. They seem to like the pick, too; it’s Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson. With the selection of Karlsson, seven picks in the first half of the first round are defensemen.

 

Boston is up now. The B’s take Joe Colborne, the Jr. A kid who is bound for Denver University in the fall. I think this is the third straight year that a Denver U. kid has gone in the first round, but I’ll try to verify that with the INCH guys later.

 

Anaheim takes Jake Gardiner, the Minnesota high school kid. Nashville is up, and Corey thinks they might go with a goalie. They do. Chet Pickard is a Predator. As I wrote yesterday, I talked to someone whose opinion I very much respect who told me he likes Pickard better than Carey Price.

 

Does Philly take a goalie or do they move back? With the No. 19 pick, the Flyers take Luca Sbisa, the ninth defenseman to go in the first round.

 

The Rangers take defenseman No. 10 when they grab Michael Del Zotto, a guy whose stick fell a bit from early in the season. It’s just New Jersey and Edmonton now before the Caps finally pick at 23. Funny how last year the Caps were one pick in front of the Oilers and this year the shoe is on the other foot.

 

By the way, I have yet to find anyone who can offer even a mild defense of Florida’s Jokinen deal. I can’t believe no other club made a better offer.

 

The Caps have moved one of their seconds to move up to 21. Don’t play poker with George McPhee. The Caps have taken Anton Gustafsson, son of former Caps great Bengt Gustafsson. It’s a terrific story.

We’ve just come back from the scrum with Anton and his dad, and in the meantime Jordon Eberle went to Edmonton, New Jersey dropped back again so Minnesota could take Tyler Cuma. New Jersey grabbed Mattias Tedenby at No. 24 and Calgary used the pick it got in the Tanguay deal to select Greg Nemisz.

 

Not too many long reaches at all, or so it seems to me. This draft has gone pretty close to what most folks figured thus far, although there certainly has been a hell of a lot of movement.

 

Buffalo goes with Tyler Ennis at 26, and we learn that the Caps have made another deal. Washington swaps Steve Eminger and a third (the No. 84 pick) to Philly for the No. 27. I’m happy for Emmy. He was a good soldier here this season and he deserves a shot somewhere. I still believe he goes on to have a solid career in the league.

Now the question is, which player has prompted the Caps to make this deal? 

 

It’s John Carlson, the defenseman from the Indiana Ice of the USHL who had committed to U-Mass, but reversed field and will play for Dale Hunter’s London Knights in the OHL next season instead.

 

Phoenix makes a deal to move into the 28 spot, and they go for the bloodlines with Viktor Tikhonov. Atlanta takes the small but speedy Daultan Leveille, and Detroit closes out the round by taking goaltender Thomas McCollum, the second netminder to go.

 

I had figured that 14-16 defensemen could go in the first, but it turned out to be a dozen. The Caps grabbed a center and a defenseman, making at least two picks in the first round for the fifth time in the last seven years.

 

Looking ahead to tomorrow, the Caps have two late second-rounders (Nos. 57 and 58), a fourth (No. 93), a fifth (No. 144) a sixth (No. 174) and a seventh (No. 204).  

What a first round. So many picks changed hands, and a handful of established players moved on. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I’m not banking on internet connectivity.