Caps Transactions (So Far) – Part II

July 22, 2011

Losses

 

Tyler sloan gettin some! (Photo Credit - Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

  1. Goalie – Semyon Varlamov – Colorado Avalanche – Well he got his wish!  The punk finally found his starting position.  Uncontested.  What a baby.He wanted starter money and George McPhee didn’t want to give it to him because he hadn’t earned it yet and that would mean admitting that he was the best goalie on our team.  Not to mention having the confidence that he wouldn’t pull a sack muscle again or whatever.  He was always hurt, and always struggling to stay on the ice.The only thing that makes me nervous is that Neuvy had a few problems himself with the stomach and flu and being injured as well.  All hatred aside, when Varly played, he was phenomenal and had one of the best save percentages in the league at .924 last year. I wish him well, but I’m sure he will be hurt by October 13th.
  2. Center – Jason Arnott – St. Louis Blues – Semin’s better half is gone.  Sadface.  Arnottcame in and provided some senior leadership and was pegged as the 2nd line center from the getgo.  This seemed to work well at first, but soon proved to be a premature decision.  In his first two games he provided a game tying assist with 48 seconds remaining and then provided the game winner the next night against his current Blues team.He was relegated to the third line in favor of Marcus Johanssonto end the season, but starred on the powerplay where he scored 3 goals and assisted on 2 more.  He was an integral part of turning the NJ Devils around right before the trade deadline but like his situation there, he was pushed out in DC in favor of youth.In St. Louis he wont’ have the problem.  He’ll be amongst some oldies but once goodies in Jonathan Cheechoo, Jamie Langenbrunner along with some up and comers like Matt D’Agostini and Chris Stewart.
  3. Right Wing – Eric Fehr – Winnipeg Jets– He went from being a fan favorite, to a hometown hero.  They say home is where the heart is, well his heart is bleeding blue and orange…or whatever their colors will be.  The man who played like the courageous lion but had shoulders built out of straw departed with his fans last month as he went home to play for the Winnipeg Jets.It appears he will be on the third line with Tanner Glass and Tim Stapleton and shouldn’t have to worry about moving up or down with Nick Antropov ahead of him and a bruiser in Chris Thorburn behind him.  He could see some time on power plays but has to battle with some handsy forwards for any real quality time.  I see him as a role player on this team simply trying to provide support runs for a young and growing top 6.
  4. Right Wing – Boyd Gordon – Phoenix Coyotes – One of our most undervalued and under appreciated players is gone and the Phoenix Coyotes will soon see how invaluable he really is. He never really provided many points having to play on the checking line with Bradley and Chimeramostly, but he did a good job at getting the puck out of our zone through winning faceoffs. 58% of them to be exact.Like most 4th liners, his plus minus suffered because of his time on the checking line and in playing over 2 minutes of short-handed hockey per game.  We are going to miss his penalty killing time, but this enhances the value of Mattias Sjogren and Jeff Halpern on our team.  Both players should be able to provide more offensively than Gordon did and we may even gain some strength on the penalty kill. We
  5. Defenseman – Tyler Sloan – WHO CARES – We bought this bum out.  I don’t care where he goes, who picks him up.  nothin!  I just don’t really want to see him back in Verizon Center again.  I’m glad I didn’t buy that #89 jersey with “SLOOOOWWW-N” on the back.
  6. Right Wing – Andrew Gordon – Anaheim Ducks – He’s mighty and he’s on another choke happy team.  The amount of talent and leadership on this team is unreal. He will be behind, and possibly way behind Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan.  Things are not looking great for him as he is more of a third line two way forward at this point rather than a 4th line checking forward.  I want to see him get a chance, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen in Anaheim.  This may mean that if you miss him at all, you can drive up to Syracuse to watch him most likely playing for the Ducks’ AHL Affiliate Syracuse Crunch.
  7. Right Wing – Brian Willsie – Montreal Canadiens – He benefited greatly from playing most of the season with a wittle guy in Mathieu Perreault and that must have sparked the interest of the Montreal Munchkins because they signed the 33 year old player to a high level 2-way contract.I expect to see him get some playing time and possibly surprise some people with some bit of production.  His skating is superb and his wrister speed should be familiar to fans who have watch Gomez, Gionta, and Cammalleri for years.  If he can’t find playing time on that depleted roster, I just don’t know what to say.  This may be his last chance.
  8. Right Wing – Matt Bradley – Florida Panthers – Get ready to stand and cheer as three ex caps come back to Verizon Center on October 18th.  Fleischmann, Theodore, and Bradley all will make an unfamiliar trek through a familiar building to be welcomed with plenty of cheers I am sure.  Bradley‘s blood may actually paint the icing line as he has gotten into more battles, and outworked many players during his tenure with the Caps.  Sadly, he slowly began to turn into a liability as Matt Hendrickstook over a lot of his tough guy duties and left him strictly fighting in corners.On a team that is filled with youngins, he will serve as the senior forward and may have a chance a captain or assistanship.  Luckily with the addition of two power forwards with great offensive skills and the return of Hendricks, his loss won’t be too effective.
  9. Left Wing – Marco Sturm – Vancouver Canucks – The great disappearing act of 2010.  The third liner didn’t provide much of the spark that many had hoped.  He did produce 7 points in 18 games, but his high 11.9% shooting percentage was not realized in D.C. as he only shot 3.3% in his 18 regular season games and 5.6% in the playoffs.Asked to do very little on the third line except collect pucks from Chimera and Bradley on occasion as they fought down low, he will surely have a different role in Vancouver.  A team that takes tons of shots and loves to play with a lot of space between their players, he may be able to use his speed and accuracy to aid in the many dimensions of Vancouver.

Caps Transactions (So Far) – Part I

July 21, 2011

Hey Caps fans!  Here’s a look at who we lost and who we have gained so far in the offseason and their importance and what they bring.  I’ll focus on the most likely contributors to the NHL team today!

Edited : Added Tomas Vokoun…the most important addition!

Hammershins

Gains

  1. Tomas Vokoun – “Vokounta Kinte” – 1 year/$1.5 Million –How in the HELL did we sign this guy for pennies.  He took a $5 million pay cut to play on this team.  He’s going to most likely be the starter but they’re going to have to battle it out for sure.  Either way, this means that our best goalie is going to play every day…in Hershey.  Braden Holtby is the best goalie in organization and I even heard this from the mouth of an ex teammate of his on a sweaty hot tour bus in Jamaica.

    I am a tad bit concerned that he won’t be healthy…who am I kidding, he finished every one of the 57 games that he started and he collected 6 shutouts and a .922 save percentage.  The year before he was even better with a .925 save percentage and 7 shutouts in 63 games.  Vokoun will make it very easy to forget about  that other dude we lost…Gnarly or something?

  2. Defenseman – Roman Hamrlik – “Hammershins” -2/$7 –The man that some say single-handedly shut down Ovechkin two years ago in the Montreal playoff series is now his defenseman!  Hamrlik is 37 and spent the last two years babysitting P.K. Subban and turning him into an all-star defenseman in his rookie season.  He is great on the point during the powerplay which is what we said Wideman would do, but Ovechkin has a sneaky way of deciding for himself how well he plays on the PP.If Hamrlik can play up top with Green or Carlson, this may be his biggest asset.  Hamrlik is also a shot blocking machine with 192 last season.  He was also third in shots taken for D-men on his team and would have ranked the same on our team (a healthy Green would have changed this).  Finishing with 5 goals and 29 assists he showed his prowess for moving the puck.  Caps fans should be really excited about the possible pairing with Mike Green on the top line.
  3. Right Wing – Troy Brouwer – “Brow-Pow” – 2/$4.7 Million – Former Blackhawks 4th liner is now a cap.  Although he was the experienced guy on the checking line, he was not a comfortable fit there.  He was relegated to the bottom squad after his offensive production all but vanished for the final 18 games. He only recorded 6 assists and zero goals in the final 11 regular season games and the 7 playoff games before getting knocked out.  The previous playoff run saw him contribute with 4 goals and 4 assists on just 21 shots. Even with the poor regular season results, his shooting percentage is among the best on the team at 13.9%.There have been talks about him playing across from Semin on the second line with either Brooks Laich or Marcus Johansson which will allow Semin to go back to the left side and to focus on offense with two solid defending forwards to his right.  Brow-Pow’s versatility will surely be utilized up and down the lineup but hopefully he will experience more linemate consistency than he did in Chicago.
  4. Right Wing – Joel Ward – “Joely-Moly!” – 4/$12 Million – Coveted by over half the league, the former Nashville Predator decided to take his talents to Chocolate City. After two seasons with no “bruvahs” on the team, we filled the quota!  Back to the important things though.  Guaranteed to be a big part of our team with his special teams experience, Joel Ward can look forward to lots of playing time.Let’s face the facts, he better score goals or else he will be considered a bust based on the contract and the hype he was receiving primarily based on his 13 point playoff performance in 12 games this year.  His 25% shooting percentage was unheard of but not surprising given his high career shooting percentage for a low line forward.
  5. Center – Jeff Halpern – “P-Mac” – 1/$825,000 – The kid from my county of MoCo is back.  Halpern went to Churchill High School in Potomac where I used to coach football and I remember hearing about him when I was in college.  He’s back from playing in LA and Montreal and is reunited with Hamrlik.  He no longer has to play with those midget punks Gionta and Cammalleri.The solid centerman is being hired to make up for some lost D zone faceoff wins that we failed to make up for when we lost Steckel last season and Boyd Gordon this off-season.  His face-off % is comparable to both at around 57% for his career.  His 10 minutes of ice-time per game will mostly be spent in the defensive zone I believe but the 4th line just got a lot stronger on offense.  He can also take some FOGO reps in dire situations as well which will come in handy at the end of close games.

    He has not been asked to do very much since leaving the Caps years ago but he has maintained some good numbers when asked to contribute.  He actually scores, and creates space and opportunities for teammates which is all we ask from our 3rd and  4th liners.  The days of dump and chasing with Chimera and Hendricks may be over!

  6. Center – Mattias Sjogren –  “Sjotime!” – 2/$1.8 Million – He may not see any time at all with the Caps this year unless there is an injury due to the players that are already on the roster.  He’s probably battling for playing time with Mathieu Perreault and Cody Eakin for the last forward sport on the full time roster.  He may actually be the best option to physically step in on the bottom two lines.  Where the others are too finesse and stick oriented, Sjogren is built to bang down low and most of the Swedish players come over with a defensive mentality from the start.   He could be a Mike Knuble type if he gets down low and fights in the bull ring, but it’s rare that centers do this on the Caps team.  They usually work from behind the net which could be his downfall.Unless a position change is in the future, he’ll have to absolutely prove  that we can’t let his skills go to waist.  He needs to work on his footwork in order to be useful on PK and possibly even 5 on 5, but if he is anything like our other Swedish centers, he’ll learn quickly and could see significant time by the new year.  In reality, I expect him to be a top 2 liner at Hersey to get some experience and increase his skills.
  7. C/RW- Christian Hanson – “MMBop” – 2/1.175 Million – I could tell you that he will play and get some playing time but I’d be lying.  I’m not doubting the fact that he may see a few games here or there, especially in preseason, but I don’t see him beating out Ward, Brouward, or any of our other RWs to play any significant time. And let’s not even start on the center position.  The Maple Leafs thought he had a pretty good chance to make their team in the future and gave him some decent playing time two years ago but they were too stacked with other bums to find him playing time either.  I see the same situation here as well.Unless he turns into Matt Bradley (which isn’t out of the realm of possibilities), I see him earning some good time in Hershey to work on his stick work and become more of a defensive forward with some offensive skills.
  8. Left Wing – Chris Bourque – “Wee Man” – 1/525,000 – I think this will be the surprise of our off-season.  I believe Bourque will get some time in D.C. for two reasons:  1) He’s a winner (3 calder cups and a playoff MVP) and 2) he’s got the skills.  I think Bourque’s size has turned a lot of teams off, but his numbers say it all.  33 points last year mostly in the Swiss-A League. A couple of 70 point seasons, and 20 point playoff seasons in Hershey.The three 2004 picks for the Caps chosen above him (Ovechkin, Schultz, & Green) are all the DC team and Bourque hopes to be the next one to stay there.  The $300,000 salary at the AHL level is well above the typical 65,000 that most players are receiving which makes him fairly expensive no matter where he plays, but it’s really all about the Cap hit.  Depending on what the team decides to do with D.J. King and Jay Beagle could determine his future!  I see no space for him on the regular roster, but I hope he gets a chance upstairs.  The 300k could simply be motivation to get him to lead the Bears to another Calder cup and become a great player coach.
Be on the lookout for the off-season losses that piece that will be coming up soon.