Kukla's Korner Hockey
If Trotz and Kuznetsov (not to mention new D-men Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen) can elevate the Caps, Washington will definitely get back to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus. And if Kuznetsov is as good as he has trended in his young career, who knows how good the Caps can be in the future.
-Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News where you can read more on Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Will Orpik be worth the $5.5 million cap hit he’ll carry in the final year of his five-year contract at the age of 39? Probably not. But the Caps are convinced he will make a very big impact on this year’s club and make them a legitimate threat in the playoffs.
-Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington on defenseman Brooks Orpik. Read more on Orpik from Gormley....
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
The 57-year-old Langway, reached via phone at his residence outside Fredericksburg, Virginia, said he thinks an improved defense will be a huge asset for the Capitals moving forward. The Capitals also added another former Penguin, veteran Brooks Orpik, for good measure to round out a back end that was a sore spot for the team last season.
"They have more balanced defensemen now,” Langway told ESPN.com “They have their 1-2 defenseman, their 3-4 that can play against top players but might rather not, and their 5-6 can play on the penalty kill, fill in, or be tough guys that play against tough guys. That can change the momentum. I don’t think the Capitals have had that for years."
Whereas Mike Green was once considered among the elite defenseman in the league, particularly for his offensive abilities, he has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency in recent years. John Carlson has been regarded as one of the top young blueliners in the league, but the defense struggled as a whole this past season. Now, with more depth, certain players like Carlson and Green may have a little less responsibility and a little more freedom to produce offensively.
That won’t be the only positive spillover effect, either. Langway thinks an improved defense could also pay dividends for the likes of Ovechkin, who was routinely criticized for his defensive shortcomings last season despite leading the league with 51 goals and nabbing his fourth Rocket Richard Trophy.
Yes, it is that time of year...
“It’s an exciting time right now. With the changes we’ve made, the additions we made with our staff and players, it’s exciting. I think all of us returning – I can’t speak for everyone else – but for myself it’s pretty easy to find the extra motivation to train and stuff, because of the excitement to get back on the ice with the group we have and the potential we have as a group already. It’s exciting. Motivation is easy when you have a group like that.”
-Braden Holtby, goaltender for the Washington Capitals. More on Holtby from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
As part of his exercise in discovering information about his new team, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz has been asking friends and colleagues around the NHL to disclose what they told their players before playing the Capitals in recent seasons.
Trotz's discoveries have given him an indication as to why the Capitals failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.
"It was pretty consistent," Trotz told NHL.com. "They would say, 'Don't let them score on the rush. Don't let their forwards freewheel. Take away time and space. They don't do much around the net. They're not very physical. They don't block shots.' It was good information, and now I've got to get it changed. I know I can."
It starts with the captain. Trotz doesn't want to take away Alex Ovechkin's offensive ability, but he wants to put more responsibility on Ovechkin to play a 200-foot game. Trotz said he has seen a lot of "glide" in Ovechkin's game and he noted his 5-on-5 production has to improve.
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
Among the winnowing pool of unrestricted free agents still seeking deals, former Arizona winger Paul Bissonnette has been fielding interest of varying levels from roughly “five to six teams,” his agent said, including the Washington Capitals.
“Right now he’s just looking for a good organization where he can contribute more than he’s been able to, to date, in the last couple years in Phoenix,” Mark Guy said Friday by telephone. “He wants to be in a position where he can compete for a solid fourth-line position and be a great team guy. He wants to be in an organization where there’s a chance to win, as most guys do, and looking forward to showing how hard he’s worked to improve his skill level and skating over the last couple years.”
from Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington,
Carcillo, 29, remains unsigned as a free agent. He made $850,000 as a member of the Kings and Rangers last season, recording four goals, one assist and 100 penalty minutes in 57 games.
He has also been to the Stanley Cup Final in three of his last five seasons, winning the Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013 and falling short with the Flyers in 2010 and the Rangers in 2014.
The Caps have roughly $1.1 million in cap space and although they have 49 players under contract, only 45 of them are likely to count against the NHL’s 50-man limit because Madison Bowey, Jakub Vrana and Vitek Vanecek are expected to return to their teams in Kelowna, Sweden and the CzechRepublic, respectively.
That means the Caps have roster room and salary space for a player who could give them the “bite” new coach Barry Trotz would like to have on his fourth line.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
You went to Las Vegas when Alex Ovechkin was there for the NHL Awards to sit down with him, have dinner with him, get to know him. Why was it important for you at the time to sit down with Ovechkin, and what did you learn from the meeting?
"You're not going to go to battle with someone you don't know. It doesn't matter what walk of life it is, whether it's business or in war. In sports it's usually a coach and player, so he understands where I'm coming from and at the same time the player recognizes where you're coming from so you get a comfort level and you can work together better. If we're going to be successful in Washington, [Ovechkin] has to be a big part of that. It's not only him, but he's a main component, a big personality, and I have to sell my vision of the team to him because he's one of the top players. In today's sport, coaches are in a partnership with their top players.
"I think it went OK. I learned a lot from that, how he thinks and how he sees the world. I know he comes from a different culture and I learned about how he views himself, how he views his job with the team. It was good. I told him what I expected. I had a bunch of questions written down and we sort of went through them. I didn't know if there would be a language barrier so I made him read the questions and try to answer them. We had some dialogue. I learned about his family, who is important in his life.
"Every player is wired differently. Some players you know exactly where they're headed, where they're going and what they're thinking. There are other guys wired differently. It allowed me to understand the personality of Alexander Ovechkin. He's been the face of the Caps for the past eight or nine years, since he's been drafted. He gets a lot of the credit when they do well and he gets a lot of the blame when they don't, but that's the responsibility for a top guy in the National Hockey League now. If you want to be the elite guy those are the responsibilities that go with it. It was good. We spent probably four hours together, and I've talked to him a couple of times on the phone as well. I think not only coaching the player but coaching the person is very important."
read on, four more questions...
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
... since Trotz and his staff assembled in Washington, the idea of the “Capitals Way” has entered their lexicon, another one of the intangible concepts – think “culture change” or “Brooks Orpik’s leadership” – being preached so much.
So what does this mean, exactly? What is the “Washington Capitals Way” Trotz wants to implement, or rediscover, or put back on track?
“I think it’s team-first and you’re able to count on the guy right beside you, across from you,” assistant coach Lane Lambert said. “There’s a lot of togetherness. There’s a lot of team-oriented concepts that we work on this week.”
“I think it’s going to be something we’re still formulating as a staff,” assistant coach Todd Reirden said. “I think a lot of times when you’re forming a model and words you want to use to describe your team before you go out and make those words public, I think you need to interact with the players and watch and now you can develop some of those characteristics after you’ve played, gone through some training camp games and real games. That’s when you get concrete words that define your team.”
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
In his first meeting with reporters since committing nearly $70 million to three free agents this month, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said the new regime under General Manager Brian MacLellan and Coach Barry Trotz addressed exactly what they targeted this offseason.
“As an owner, you set strategy and vision and budget,” he said. “Then you have to enable your people to do things. I green-lit that we could spend every dollar we could for goaltending and defense. That was my input.”
Now just $1.1 million shy of the salary cap, the Capitals gave a combined $69.65 million to defenseman Matt Niskanen, defenseman Brooks Orpik and goaltender Justin Peters on July 1, the first day of free agency. And while MacLellan, that day, described a busy scene inside the team offices, hustling between rooms for contractual approval, Leonsis seems to have taken a more hands-off approach, trusting in his two hires to make the ultimate calls.
“In fact, I think it was more that Mac would inform us in what he was going to do,” Leonsis said. We told him when we hired him, as we did, you and the coaches make the decisions. You need to be totally in sync. With the players that we signed, the players that we draft, you have to be in total sync. So far, so good on that. I think that’s a good move in a positive direction to have the organization all signing from the same songbook.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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