Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.”
We will see what other moves the Capitals have in mind this summer but, right now, it appears that they spent a lot of money to get better in the short-term; signing deals that appear to have more downside risk because of the long terms involved.
-Scott Cullen of TSN on the signings the Washington Capitals made yesterday. More in-depth analysis of the Washington signings.
from Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post,
After one month of tedious preparation had resulted in $68.9 million of NHL contracts signed within a few hours, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan walked downstairs at the team’s practice facility and into the locker room, where reporters awaited. “Be nice,” he jokingly said as he approached the podium. “Be nice.”
A seven-year deal worth $40.25 million to Matt Niskanen and a five-year deal worth $27.5 million to Brooks Orpik had left plenty of questions for MacLellan, and he answered all under the umbrella of addressing needs. In his first free agency atop the front office, the calculus was simple: To shore up the defense, add leadership and improve five-on-five play, Washington needed to open its checkbook.
“We had cap room,” MacLellan said. “Ownership gave the green light to get to the cap, and we spent the money where we felt we needed to spend it the most.
“It’s a big commitment by our organization and hopefully the players see the commitment by both ownership and management to address perceived needs that we do have. I’m excited about it and hopefully they are too.”
from Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington,
It’s no secret the Capitals are looking to add two defensemen to their blue line and landing Niskanen and Orpik would be a grand slam for general manager Brian MacLellan. The Caps might also have interest in 32-year-old defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres over the weekend.
“I think the first phase of making our team better is getting a staff in place right before the draft,” Trotz said. “Now, when you talk to a free agent he knows what the staff is. I think that’s really important.
“We’ve got the staff, we’ve got the facilities, we’ve got a lot of good pieces on our hockey team, so we have a lot of good selling points.”
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
“I think we want some veteran guys back there to stabilize things and allow some of the younger guys to develop so you put them in the right hole,” Trotz said. “I think a right- and left-handed shot, if you know of anybody. There’s a couple D-men that we’re actually targeting that probably so are 20 other teams. Teams are smart. They lock up their core for a long period of time. The windows of those guys have changed.”
One month into the Washington gig, Trotz has finished reviewing film of the roster and seemed bullish on the young Capitals defensemen rising through the organization, such as Nate Schmidt, Patrick Wey and Connor Carrick. He also talked about being stronger around the net, leveraging position to “tie up people” when pucks are batted about. But those are matters best handled during the preseason, and Trotz knows the Capitals need to act now.
“The great thing about Washington is they have lots of assets in terms of forwards, some teams might be looking for scoring, we can do something there,” he said. “That’s really up to Mac. I think the first phase of making our team better is, I thought Mac did a good job of getting the staff in place right before the draft here. That free agency period to getting to talk to people and what have you, you’re going to talk to a free agent, he knows what the staff is. I think that’s really important.”
from Brad Walter of the Sydney Morning Herald,
Nathan Walker and his parents Wayne and Ceri were doing ''jumping jacks'' around their Grays Point home at 1.30am on Sunday after the 20-year-old became the first Australian selected in the NHL draft.
Walker and his parents were watching the NHL draft online from Philadelphia when the Washington Capitals chose him at No.89 after trading their two fourth-round choices with the New York Rangers for the penultimate pick in the third round. After attending development and training camps with the Capitals during the past two northern summers, Walker was well known to Washington officials and they were concerned he had attracted the interest of other franchises while playing last season for Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League.
''I am just speechless,'' Walker said. ''I was watching a feed with my parents and a cousin, and they just announced my name at about 1.30am. It was unbelievable. We were doing jumping jacks around the lounge room. The Capitals called me last night and just said they wanted to congratulate me.''
Once the announcement was made, the phone didn't stop ringing as friends and family called to congratulate Walker on the fulfilment of a dream that began when he watched the film The Mighty Ducks and involved him moving to the Czech Republic at 13 years of age to play ice hockey.
from Jason Brough of ProHockeyTalk,
... Trotz believes Ovechkin has to “grow his game if we’re going to win a championship.” And while that goes for everyone on the team — he was by no means trying to single out his captain — he did share one specific critique with reporters.
“Alex has got a bit too much glide in his game,” said Trotz. “When you’re standing still you’re really easy to cover.”
added 3:48pm, Watch Trotz speaking about the Capitals in this E.J. Hradek interview below...
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have named Mitch Korn the team’s goaltending coach, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
Following the season Olie Kolzig expressed his desire to not continue as a full-time goaltending coach due to family reasons. Korn and Kolzig are currently discussing Kolzig’s level of time commitment and involvement with the organization.
The Washington Capitals will be hosting the 2015 Winter Classic next season against the Chicago Blackhawks, according to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie.
McKenzie adds that while the venue for the Winter Classic in D.C. hasn't been finalized yet, the leading candidate is believed to be Nationals Park.
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