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The Washington Capitals were incredibly busy during the first days of the NHL's free agency period, signing four players over two days. Yet, one of their unrestricted free agents, defenseman Scott Hannan, remained unsigned. With training camp about a month away, Hannan has finally signed. But not with Washington.
The Caps acquired Hannan from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Tomas Fleischmann November 30. In 55 games with Washington, Hannan had one goal and four assists with a plus-3 rating and 28 PIM. Coincidentally, Hannan's tenure with Washington did not begin or end well. His first game (against the Dallas Stars December 2) was the first of the Caps' season-high eight-game losing streak and his last game at Verizon Center saw him make a bad line change that ultimately cost the Caps in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
With the signing of Roman Hamrlik July 1, Hannan was expendable and he knew that the Caps would not re-sign him. Calgary will be Hannan's fourth team since he arrived in the NHL in 1998. The one-year, $1 million contract is a huge pay cut from his last contract of four years, $18 million.
Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov was a notable absence from the team's Prospect Development Camp a few weeks ago, but he does not plan for that absence to be much longer. Via Russian Machine Never Breaks, Kuznetsov told Russia's Sports.ru that he plans to come to Washington next season.
The 26th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Kuznetsov has spent the last two seasons - his first two professional seasons - with the KHL's Traktor Chelyabinsk. The 19-year-old Russian had 17 goals and 15 assists in 44 games last season.
Kuznetsov did not attend this year's Development Camp after deciding to stay in Russia for one more season and undergoing shoulder surgery. Yet, one more season in a high level league like the KHL could be good for Kuznetsov.
In fact, he has already placed himself in the Caps' lineup...on EA Sports' NHL 11. Kuznetsov apparently placed himself on a line with fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin, meaning that he is skating on the top line. No comment from Nicklas Backstrom.
Washington Capitals veteran defenseman Tom Poti's agent said the the 34-year-old is working to be back on the ice by the time training camp starts. After playing only 21 games last season, Poti is still on the mend from a knee injury that some thought to be career threatening.
On the surface, this is good news for the Caps as they look to shore up their roster for the start of the 2011-2012 season, but Poti's possible return could end up being problematic for the boys in red.
After a flurry of roster moves this offseason, the Capitals' roster is currently over the NHL's $64.3 million salary cap. However, the Caps' front office could get away with the extra spending if Poti and his $2.875 million cap hit are not ready to start the regular season on the team's active roster. In that case, Poti would be placed on the team's long-term injury list, negating his impact on the salary cap.
Whenever a trade rumor involving the Washington Capitals formulates, one name almost always comes to the forefront: Alexander Semin. With the Caps very close to the salary cap ceiling after several offseason moves, Semin's $6.7 million salary became a hot topic of discussion. Yet, via NHL.com's E.J. Hradek, general manager George McPhee put the latest round of rumors to rest.
"We like Semin because he can score goals," McPhee said Monday, squashing the latest round of Semin trade tales. "Those guys aren't easy to find. We've made our moves," he continued. "I don't anticipate us making any other changes. If I go into the season with this group, I'm fine with that."
The second half of the quote above is something that McPhee has echoed within the last several weeks after the Caps acquired Troy Brouwer, Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik and Tomas Vokoun. Washington was over the salary cap ceiling (even though they carry up to 10% more than allowed until opening night), but after Karl Alzner re-signed last week, the Caps were still over the limit.
If speculation that Tom Poti's career is over with a groin injury is true, then he can be placed on long-term injured reserve and therefore his cap hit would be erased, which would put the Caps under the ceiling.
Yet, McPhee has been known to say one thing and then do another. For example, he told the media after the Caps traded Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche July 1 that the team was going forward with goalies Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby. One day later, the Caps signed Vokoun.
The offseason has really begun now that free agency and development camp is over, but Semin's status has been and will continue to be a hot topic of discussion.
It's been a busy Friday for the Washington Capitals front office. Fresh off the news that they re-signed Karl Alzner to a two-year contract, the Caps have also signed Francois Bouchard, one of their restricted free agents, to a one-year deal.
Alzner's agent, J.P. Barry, said the same thing last week and it looks as though Alzner's value is still undecided between the two parties:
"A one-year deal is not really the situation you wanna be in without arbitration rights," Barry said.
Barry told Whyno that Alzner has not received any offer sheets from other NHL teams. July 15 is the deadline for Alzner to either accept the Caps' qualifying offer or remain a restricted free agent.
With Friday's trade of Eric Fehr to the Winnipeg Jets, Washington has just under $400,000 in remaining salary cap space. The Caps have acquired five players within the last two weeks: Troy Brouwer, Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik and Tomas Vokoun.
Barry did take the time to shoot down a rumor that began circulating Friday which had the Caps trading Alexander Semin and Alzner's rights to the Montreal Canadiens for Yannick Weber, Andrei Kostitsyn and s first-round pick:
"That's the hard part about the summer time - there are lots of rumors and maybe one in 10 are true," he said.
Karl Alzner is a restricted free agent, and the Washington Capitals surely want to keep him after he had a breakout season in 2010/11. However, the Capitals have yet to come to an agreement with him and are already over the salary cap. They can still sign Alzner, but will have to cut salary elsewhere before opening day.
All this has caused Alzner to be admittedly anxious about his status. In an interview with Boomer and Walker on SportsNet 960 The Fan in Calgary, he said being a restricted free agency is a "little bit scary" for him.
Right now, actually, it [weighs on me] probably more than it should. I think about it quite often because obviously I want a contract. It would be nice to know exactly what's going on. Now, there's possibilities where things could happen -- I'm not saying that it will -- but nobody right now knows where I'm going to play next year. That's the thing that's a little bit scary for me right now, the unknown. I want to get something done, but you just got to wait for the right thing to be there. At this point, you've just got to be patient.
Alzner did say he wanted to return to Washington and that he is already working on his game to "do a lot more out on the ice." He said his preference is to stay because the Capitals are so close to a Stanley Cup.
[Leaving a team that's close is] not a very good feeling, and I don't want to be the guy who's next to do that. Obviously, it looks like a very bright future in Washington. I definitely want to be a part of that and help them win. But like I said, it's in my hands but it's out of my hands right now. We just have to crunch some numbers and see how it unfolds.
Alzner is expected to command at least $3 million a season and is one of the top defensemen on the market.
For more on the Capitals, visit Japers' Rink.
Jason Arnott, the major acquisition the Washington Capitals made at the NHL trade deadline last season, has moved to another city. Arnott signed a one-year, $3 million with the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
It's no surprise that the 36-year old Arnott has signed elsewhere, since Washington has no cap room and never figured he would be a part of their future. Still, the Capitals will be losing a key contributor to their late-season run. Arnott stabilized Washington's second line and provided valuable leadership and experience for a team that was struggling a bit at the time. He was credited with helping to turn around Washington's culture during his time in D.C., though it was not enough to lead to playoff success.
It's unclear how Washington plans on replacing him, since their free-agent signings were wingers, not centers. Perhaps Marcus Johansson can continue to step up his game and assume Arnott's role as the second-line center.
For more on the Capitals, visit Japers' Rink.
BALLSTON, VA - New Washington Capitals forward Jeff Halpern is not really new to most Caps fans. A Potomac, Maryland, native and fan favorite throughout his six seasons in Washington (1999-2006), Halpern captained the Caps in his last full season, which happened to be Alex Ovechkin's rookie year. But Halpern, speaking to the media at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Wednesday, does not plan on taking over leadership duties.
"I don't think my role would change whether I had a letter on my jersey on another team or now," Halpern said. "I think I would carry out the same way, but it doesn't really matter who carries a letter. I'm coming into a new situation. I've played with a few guys here, but you don't want to come in and start ranting and raving right off the bat. You want to blend in and mix in. This is a tremendous group that's playing here and you want to add to it, you don't want to dig into it too much."
Halpern has spent the last five seasons with the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens. And while he did not rule out a return to Washington at some point, Halpern definitely took advantage of the opportunity.
"Honestly, I said that the first team that would call, I'd jump on, but obviously, I've always kind of hoped to come back to Washington and the fact that they called, I was ecstatic," Halpern said. "It was a place I have great memories playing and I jumped on the opportunity to come back."
In his first stop with Washington, Halpern was a part of a few good Caps teams, but also a few bad ones. Halpern joined a Caps team two years removed from their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance and never made it past the first round. Since then, much has changed (including the uniforms, which have gone from black and copper to red, white and blue). Halpern said Wednesday that he did not regret leaving the Caps when he did when considering their evolution from a cellar-dweller to perennial Cup contenders.
"I think the biggest thing for me when you play, you want to see things grow," Halpern said. "And we had real good teams my first few years here and then we went through a couple lean years. You can start to see [Ovechkin's] first year, things starting to change and we hit rock bottom, I think, going into the lockout. And there was such good signs of improvement Ovi's first year and going into that next year. It's been interesting to watch this team go from where we were at the lockout to dominating the league pretty much year in and year out."
Another change has been the culture and atmosphere surrounding the fanbase. Halpern played to an empty MCI/Verizon Center for most of his years, but now the Caps regularly sell out. The fanbase is no longer complacent, but rabid, and Halpern is looking forward to the experience.
"This has turned into one of the best places to play in the league if you ask any player," Halpern said. "The players have given a product to people and they've responded to it. Since that's happened here, I've always enjoyed coming back to play. It'll be a treat to be on the other side."
With the signing of winger Troy Brouwer to a two-year contract worth $2.35 million per season, the Washington Capitals officially went over the salary cap. They have until opening night to get back under it, and a trade will likely be necessary to make it happen. Therefore, it's only natural that Alexander Semin trade rumors have begun.
Semin's name popped up in one on Wednesday. Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press is reporting that the Capitals are "shopping" Semin, with several teams interested.
The Washington Capitals are said to be shopping Alex Semin with Montreal, Nashville, Toronto, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Jose, all said to be interested in the right-winger, who has 166 goals in the last five years. Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian has also had his name linked to Semin in various trade rumours.
Semin will make $6.7 million next year on a one-year contract, so if the Capitals need to clear salary, the talented, but inconsistent winger is an obvious candidate. That said, the Capitals probably don't have to trade Semin to get back under the cap. If the team puts Tom Poti and his $2.875 million salary on long-term injured reserve and signs defensemen Karl Alzner to a reasonable contract, they could probably get back under by dealing Eric Fehr or Jason Chimera instead.
For more on Semin and the Capitals, visit Japers Rink.
After two straight playoff failures, George McPhee decided to change gears. Instead of making his big moves in-season, McPhee decided to aggressively reshape the Capitals' roster in free agency.
Former Washington Capitals winger Matt Bradley has officially departed the team, signing a two-year contract with the Capitals' division rival, the Florida Panthers. The Panthers announced the signing on their Twitter account. Terms of his contract have not been disclosed.
The gritty Bradley became a fan favorite in his six years in Washington for his play on the checking line. On a team that many felt lacked grit, Bradley was beloved. But with the Capitals making several moves on Friday to address that shortcoming, Bradley became expendable. He had four goals and seven assists in 61 games last season.
Bradley is one of many fresh faces for the Panthers. He will be joined by fellow former Capital Tomas Fleischmann, who signed a four-year, $18 million deal on Friday. Fleischmann had been traded to the Avalanche for defensemen Scott Hannan last year. Hannan is unlikely to return to D.C.
For more on the signing, visit Japers Rink.
The Washington Capitals have announced another addition to their team, inking left wing Chris Bourque to a one-year deal. George McPhee took time away from celebrating his birthday to let us know:
The Washington Capitals have signed free agent left wing Chris Bourque to a one-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Bourque was actually the second round pick of the Capitals in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft (33rd overall). He has had an extremely successful minor league career, winning Calder Cups in 2006, 2009 and 2010 with the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears. The 25-year-old was playoff MVP in the 2010 championship season, scoring 27 points in 21 playoff games. He has an equally impressive 60 points (15 goals, 45 assists) in 68 career postseason AHL games with Hershey.
Bourque spent last season playing overseas, in both the Swiss-A league and Semyon Varlamov's favorite league, the KHL.
For more on Bourque and the Capitals, visit Japers Rink.
BALLSTON, VA - The Washington Capitals made an impact on the first day of NHL free agency, signing Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward and Roman Hamrlik while losing Boyd Gordon, Semyon Varlamov and Marco Sturm. The man in charge of these players, head coach Bruce Boudreau, discussed his new-look lineup Friday afternoon at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
"It was fast and furious through the whole league, I think," Boudreau said candidly.
On filling the missing holes in the Capitals' lineup:
"Absolutely. The depth is tremendous on this team. The holes are filled, so moving forward, I'm looking forward to [training] camp now."
On the injection of experience and grit that the Caps have received within the last week:
"Joel Ward played really hard when he played against him. We know how Hamrlik has played against us...Halpern's played really hard and has been a captain here before. All of those things were carefully done and it just fit in well, so it works."
On picking up players during the summer as opposed to the trade deadline:
"The longer you keep the group together, the more stable they become. it becomes an easier situation. You don't have to go looking for moves...halfway through the year. What George did today was set the roster and let's go."
BALLSTON, VA - After a busy day that saw the Washington Capitals acquire three new players, general manager George McPhee discussed his thoughts on Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward and Roman Hamrlik during a brief press conference at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
"Well, now we have Jeff as a fourth line center. He's really good on faceoffs, really good penalty-killing guy. If you get banged up or someone's not playing well, you can move him up and down the lineup. We want players to be able to fulfill certain roles, but also generate offense and we think he does."
On Hamrlik, who McPhee admitted came to Washington in case Tom Poti - whose status is uncertain - could not play:
"Hamrlik is a guy that still [has] a lot of game left and he can defend and generate offense. That's what we wanted a little more of. He had 34 points last year. While we like having shutdown D, I think you're better off with guys that can shut down and generate offense and move the puck."
On Ward, who has excelled in the playoffs recently, even leading Nashville with 13 points during last season's postseason:
"He's a real competitive kid. We wanted to pick him up because, well, he gives you...size, good penalty killing during the season. I'd rather have someone who gets 10 or 15 [goals] in the regular season, but delivers in the playoffs than someone who gets 25 and doesn't."
Of course, the biggest news regarding the Caps Friday was trading Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a 2012 first-round draft pick and a second-round pick in either 2012 or 2013. McPhee shared his thoughts on why the Caps dealt Varlamov, including a guarantee that they could not agree to:
"That was interesting. We wanted...we were hoping to have Semyon back this year and play a full season so we could get that kind of value for him next summer because we knew that next summer we were going to have to do something with our goaltenders. But we got that value now. And given the injuries, I'm surprised that we got it now. It was a good move for Colorado."
"In fact, we were close [on a contract] last weekend. The issue really was that he wanted...I think in his mind, guaranteed that he is the No, 1 guy and paid like that and we couldn't guarantee that, not with the competition that we have at that position. You really can't guarantee any player anything. They have to come in and prove themselves and earn it. Varly's a really good kid, he's a competitive kid, he's committed to being a really good player. We said come back and compete for it but he didn't seem to want to do that and the indication was that that wasn't there, then we was going to play over in Russia for a year. Let's get the value we can get for him next summer now and we did."
McPhee said the team plans to move forward with Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby in goal. In regards to restricted free agents Karl Alzner and Troy Brouwer, McPhee said that there is room in the salary cap to sign them and that the Caps are done making moves at this point.
The Washington Capitals have officially said goodbye to winger Marco Sturm. Sturm has signed a one-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. The one-year deal is worth $2.25 million.
Sturm was signed late in the year by the Capitals after being waived by the Los Angeles Kings. He ended up playing 18 games for Washington at the end of the year, scoring one goal and notching six assists during that time. In the playoffs, Sturm had one goal and two assists in nine games.
He had spent most of his time on the second or third line for Washington, and probably will do the same for Vancouver. The acquisition of Troy Brouwer and the signing of Joel Ward ultimately made Sturm expendable for Washington. There was no chance the Capitals would be willing to give Sturm the kind of contract he ultimately received.
For more on Sturm and the Capitals, visit Japers Rink.
The Washington Capitals have been far busier than anyone expected on the first day of NHL free agency, signing Roman Hamrlik, Joel Ward and Jeff Halpern while trading away Semyon Varlamov. Combine that with the recent re-signing of Brooks Laich, and there isn't a lot of cap room left. Specifically, the Capitals have just over $2 million remaining, according to CapGeek, and that figure is really more like $1.4 million because Braden Holtby, who makes $633,777, is likely going to be the backup goalie.
That's not a lot of space, and it's particularly important because the Capitals still have some key pieces left to sign. The total does not include blossoming young defensemen Karl Alzner, who is a restricted free agent and is exactly the kind of player the Capitals cannot let go. It only includes Neuvirth and Holtby in net, and they may need a veteran backup as well. It also doesn't include new winger Troy Brouwer, whom the Capitals acquired for their 2011 NHL Draft first-round pick. It obviously doesn't include free agents Jason Arnott, Marco Strum, Scott Hannan and Matt Bradley, all of whom are surely gone at this point.
This means that we should probably expect George McPhee to clear some salary with some trades. Someone is going to have to go. Perhaps it's Tom Poti, who has been injured and may not be able to play again. Poti has two years left on his contract, with a $2.875 million cap hit. Perhaps it's Eric Fehr, who has one year left with a $2.2 million cap hit. Perhaps it's someone bigger, like Alexander Semin or Mike Green. Semin has one year left at $6.7 million, while Green also has one year left at $5.25 million. If either gets dealt, it will mean the "Young Guns" will have officially split up.
So what does McPhee do? It will be very interesting to see. Clearly, the Capitals are indeed preparing to make some big roster changes.
The Washington Capitals continue to have a busy day. First, they brought back Jeff Halpern and saw Boyd Gordon depart for Phoenix. Then, they traded Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche for a 2012 first-round pick and a future second-round pick. For more on Varlamov, visit this StoryStream.
Finally, the silly Jaromir Jagr bidding war has ended. No, he did not return to the Washington Capitals, which is something nobody should have figured would happen. Instead, he has signed with the rival Philadelphia Flyers, inking a one-year, $3.3 million contract.
Jagr's former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, were poised to bring him back, but the Flyers entered the bidding late and offered significantly more money. Jagr has been playing in Russia since 2008, his final year with the New York Rangers. He made his name playing with the Penguins before cashing in with an astronomical contract with the Capitals in 2001. He was a major disappointment here and was eventually dealt to New York.
Given his failure in D.C., there wasn't a chance he was coming back, though that didn't stop some from speculating about a possible reunion.
For more on the Jagr signing, visit SB Nation's Flyers blog Broad Street Hockey.
One of the longest-tenured members of the Washington Capitals is no more.
Gordon has been a part of the Capitals organization since being drafted by them with the 17th overall pick in the 2002 NHL Draft. Known for his penalty killing and high faceoff acumen, Gordon scored three goals and added six assists in 60 games for the Caps last season. He led the team with a 58.0% faceoff percentage.
Gordon will likely be replaced by former captain Jeff Halpern, who signed a one-year deal with the Caps Friday afternoon. The 27-year-old forward battled a serious back injury throughout the last few years, only appearing in 36 games during the 2009-10 season. His best year with the Caps came in 2006-07, when he scored seven goals and added 22 assists in 71 games.
With Gordon gone, Alexander Semin is now the longest-tenured member of the Caps, having been drafted four spots ahead of Gordon in the 2002 NHL Draft.
The Washington Capitals' first signing of the 2011 free agency period was one that they are very familiar with.
Former captain Jeff Halpern has returned to the Caps, signing a one-year contract reportedly worth $825,000.
Halpern spent six seasons with the Caps, scoring 87 goals over that span. A Potomac, Maryland, native, Halpern has spent time with the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens since leaving Washington. He had 11 goals and 15 assists in 72 games with Montreal last season. Halpern also ranked second on the Canadiens last season with a 56.9% faceoff percentage.
Halpern was named the team captain in 2005-06, which was Alex Ovechkin's rookie season. He had 11 goals and 33 assists in 70 games that season. He signed with the Stars as an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Hannan, who arrived in Washington November 30 from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Tomas Fleischmann, said at the end of the season that he would like to return, but the veteran defenseman's agent, Don Meehan, has said that the Caps have yet to make an offer:
"As far as Scott's situation with the Capitals is concerned, the Capitals have not made any offer to date, but have indicated that they may very well speak to us on Scott's situation subsequent to July 1."
Hannan had one goal and four assists in 55 games for Washington during the regular season. He made his debut with the Caps December 2 against the Dallas Stars, which ultimately was the first loss of the team's season-high eight-game losing streak. Hannan did not win his first game with Washington until December 19.
Meanwhile, Sturm has also not received an offer, according to his agent, Larry Kelly, who also represents Matt Bradley. The Caps picked Sturm off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings in February. He had one goal and six assists in 18 regular season games for Washington.
According to Alzner's agent, J.P. Barry, he is optimistic that a deal will be worked out, but negotiations are ongoing:
"We were negotiating for a couple of months. We both have worked up our positions," Barry said. "We're not there yet - we have a gap to work on...We did a lot of work together, myself and Don Fishman talked for a while. They know where we stand on what Karl's projection is as a player, and they've done the same [projection.]"
Alzner just finished his entry-level contract, which paid him $875,000. He stands to earn a significant raise as he has become the Caps' most reliable shutdown defenseman. Last season, Alzner had two goals and 10 assists in 82 games for Washington as he and his defensive partner, John Carlson, became the Caps' No. 1 defensive pairing in their first full NHL seasons.
"They indicated a number of months ago that there would be an offer for him in eight to ten days and there's been no offer and we're not expecting one," [Bradley's agent Larry] Kelly told RMNB. "I think Matt's a very, very valuable hockey player and I think he'll do fine in free agency."
Bradley just finished the final year of a three-year contract that paid him $1 million per season. Since joining the Caps in 2005, Bradley has scored 37 goals in 427 games. Bradley spent his time on the fourth line and became a fan favorite.
With the news today that the Caps bought out the remainder of Tyler Sloan's contract, the Caps now have about $9.369 million in salary cap space without factoring in the space cleared if Bradley does not return.
Arnott's agent, who is also his brother Wade, said in an e-mail that "although we maintain an open line of communication with the Caps, Jason will test free agency at this point."
The Caps acquired Arnott February 28 from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for David Steckel and a 2012 second-round draft pick. In 11 regular season games for Washington, Arnott scored four goals and added three assists, but only had six points in nine playoff games. Arnott missed time in late March with what was ultimately known as a knee injury that required minor surgery.
If Arnott leaves, the Caps will once again be in need of a second line center. Last season, Tomas Fleischmann, Mathieu Perreault and Marcus Johansson all saw time at that position until Arnott arrived.
With Brooks Laich re-signed, Semyon Varlamov's status uncertain and Arnott testing free agency, seven Caps (Troy Brouwer, Marco Sturm, Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon, Karl Alzner, Scott Hannan and Sean Collins) now remain to be re-signed or let go.
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