Kukla's Korner Hockey
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have re-signed forward Marcus Johansson to a three-year, $13.75 million contract, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today. Johansson will earn $4.25 million in 2016-17 and $4.75 million in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
from Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post,
With arbitration hearings in the NHL being rare occurrences, Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson appears poised to enter the unique process. Players or teams have filed for arbitration 307 times since 2006, but a hearing has been needed just 42 times, according to generalfanager.com, as a deal between player and team is usually reached before the mediation is needed.
Johansson was one of three players last summer who was awarded his contract through an arbitration, and if he and the Capitals don’t negotiate a deal prior to his July 20 hearing, he’ll become the first player since 2006 (as far back as the arbitration tracker goes) to go through the process twice. With both sides still apart on terms less than a week before the hearing, it seems likely that Johansson’s next contract will again be determined by an arbitrator, barring an 11th-hour settlement.
General Manager Brian MacLellan “and I have tried quite a few times to see if we can talk about something longer term,” said Johansson’s agent, J.P. Barry. “We really haven’t been successful on any attempts of sort of a longer-term negotiation. It could be just be the cap and different views of what’s going. So then obviously, we have to turn around and deal with our arbitration case.”
added 4:19pm, Release is below...
Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals has captured his first Vezina Trophy, awarded to the “goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position,” as selected by NHL General Managers. Prior to 1981-82, the Vezina was awarded to the goaltender(s) whose team allowed the fewest goals during the regular season, the current criterion for the William Jennings Trophy.
Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz has captured the Jack Adams Award as “the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success,” as selected by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.
from Isabelle Khurshudyan of The Washington Post,
“I’m pretty content with the core,” MacLellan said Monday. “I think the ninth, 10th forward are where we’re going to look to improve.”
The Capitals won’t have room to do much else, and the success of the regular season shouldn’t be completely ignored either. Just three players are unrestricted free agents: forwards Jason Chimera and Mike Richards and defenseman Mike Weber. MacLellan said he’ll prioritize re-signing the team’s four restricted free agents — Marcus Johansson, Dmitry Orlov, Tom Wilson and Michael Latta — before considering whether the unrestricted ones have a place next season.
But in identifying how a largely successful team needs to improve, MacLellan pointed to the bottom half of the forward corps as needing “a little work,” specifically in becoming more offensively reliable.
“You know, we’ve talked about it: It’s turned into a top-nine league,” MacLellan said. “I don’t know that we had a pure top nine. Maybe we had a top eight or a top seven-and-a-half or however you want to value that, but I think we were a little short on the top nine.
“I think you need two-way guys, guys who can play both ways. Ideally for us, I think we need some offense out of it.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
What happens next for this Caps squad will be interesting, as it always is. Some fans will lobby for Washington to blow up its roster, similar to the way many St. Louis Blues fans felt a year ago after their team made yet another first-round exit. But like the Blues of a year ago, Washington would be wise to consider the manner in which St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong tackled last offseason, making important moves like the T.J. Oshie-for-Troy Brouwer trade, but resisting making sweeping changes or blowing up the core. He chose to believe once more in what he had, and his team came back for another try.
It's what I believe Caps GM Brian MacLellan should do. Make some moves, yes, but not drop a grenade on the whole thing. "There's no way I would blow them up," said a rival Eastern Conference hockey executive. "You don't do that to a 120-point team. But I do think they need more team speed. That showed itself against Pittsburgh."
For starters, the blueline was exposed by the Penguins' speed in this series. After the top three of John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner, this is a blue-line corps that thins out in a hurry. This is the area I would try to seriously upgrade this summer.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
Nick Bonino delivered the Heimlich Maneuver when he scored six minutes into overtime for the Penguins, eliminating the Capitals in six games in their best-of-seven series with a head-spinning 4-3 win at a Consol Energy Center that was both bonkers and manic in the same game.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are now halfway home. They’ve checked off eight boxes on the shirts they wear underneath their equipment that say ‘Just Win.’ Eight to go.
“I really think they’ve got a shot at it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.
When this grueling journey began 30 days ago, Trotz felt the same about his team. He handicapped that there are maybe 10 heavyweights in the NHL who have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup in any given year.
“I thought we were going to be one of them,” Trotz said.
Instead, Pittsburgh will host Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final beginning this weekend for the right to play for Lord Stanley’s mug. And the Capitals squandered their fifth 100-point regular season in the last seven years alone.
Game highlights are below...
from Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog at the Washington Post,
Now remember all the ways this team had distinguished itself in the regular season. Instead of question marks in goal, Washington had a Vezina Trophy frontrunner. Instead of uninspiring fill-ins centering the second line, Washington had a brilliant all-star. Instead of kids, there were veteran leaders everywhere. And instead of defensive holes, Washington’s blue line was deep and sturdy.
All those pillars trembled in the playoffs. Holtby tied the NHL’s mark for regular season wins, but Penguins kid goalie Matt Murray matched him in this series. Evgeny Kuznetsov became the first player other than Nicklas Backstrom or Alex Ovechkin to lead Washington in scoring in more than a decade; he had only two points in 12 postseason games. The veteran leaders sometimes stumbled; Williams led Washington in postseason penalty minutes, while Brooks Orpik got himself suspended for three games. As for the blue line, with Orpik out, the depth included Nate Schmidt and Mike Weber, who were each victimized on crucial goals.
And so what will be remembered was no Tuesday’s frantic comeback, but the result. Look, this isn’t a historical failure, and it won’t be as haunting as that 2010 loss to Montreal. The Penguins have 22 wins in their past 27 games, and will be favored to reach the Stanley Cup finals. But this was Washington’s best and most balanced regular season team, certainly of the Ovechkin era and maybe in franchise history. It was a team built for the postseason, with a blend of scoring, defense, leadership and depth. It had, as Jason Chimera said Tuesday, “that special feeling all year.”
It was special because it felt different. Thanks largely to a few inexplicable blips — those stretches of alarmingly poor play — the ending is the same. Now the Caps have 11 months to try to do something different yet again.
The Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 in OT tonight to win the series 4-2.
GIFs of tonight's goals can be viewed in the game post.
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.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com