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Capitals' free agents: Who stayed and who is moving on

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Capitals' free agents: Who stayed and who is moving on

The Capitals had a long list of players with expiring contracts heading into the offseason. While Caps fans will know doubt know who's returning, you may not know about those other players who went off in search of a new home.

Here's an update on the notable Capitals free agents and their status as we head to late summer.

Jay Beagle: Re-signed with Caps for 3 years, $1.75 million

After he set career highs in goals (10) and assists (10) last season, it was expected that he would be back in Washington. Though he is a natural center, he has become something of a utility man for the Caps even finding himself playing on the top line at times. I expect he will challenge to become the third-line center in the upcoming season.

John Erskine: Not signed

It's not surprising to see him remain without a contract after neck issues kept him out of the entire 2014-15 season. You have to wonder if perhaps the bruising 35-year-old defenseman's career has come to an end.

Eric Fehr: Signed with Pittsburgh for 3 years, $6 million

Caps fans held out hope that perhaps there was still a chance Fehr could return after he remained un-signed late into July, but there was really no room for both him and Marcus Johansson. You hate to see him go to Pittsburgh, but for a player coming off a shoulder injury and who was struggling just to stay in the NHL in 2012, a three-year deal worth $6 million is a great contract.

Tim Gleason: Not signed

The Caps had a specific need for Gleason that saw him in the lineup for all 14 of the Caps playoff games, but around the league it seems he is not as highly regarded. That is evident by the fact that he signed with Carolina twice and was traded mid-season by the Hurricanes twice. That has to wear on a player, but what team is going to be willing to give a 32-year-old, third-pair defenseman the stability of a long-term deal?

RELATED: Bruins walk away from Caps' ECHL affiliate

Curtis Glencross: Not signed

This one is a surprise. He is not the first trade deadline player to struggle with his new team, he shouldn't be judged too harshly for his time with the Caps. Last season was his best in terms of points since 2011-12. Is there really no place for a player who can get you 10-20 goals and 20-25 assists per season? I think he will be a bargain-basement signing for someone at the start of training camp.

Mike Green: Signed with Detroit for 3 years, $18 million

When a player earns $6 million per year but is relegated to the third pair, the writing is on the wall. It was no surprise to see Green leave and no surprise to see him end up in Detroit, a team that has been in need of a right-handed, puck-moving defenseman for quite some time.

Braden Holtby: Re-signed with Caps for 5 years, $30.5 million

Holtby proved this season he is able to handle being a team's starter and that his strong playoff play was no fluke. The Caps got him for a reasonable amount as well. Both sides won in this deal.

Marcus Johnasson: Re-signed with Caps for 1 year, $3.75 million

This was one of those rare cases that went all the way to arbitration. Johansson walked away with a hefty raise, but one that still leaves the Caps with a healthy cushion under the salary cap.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: Re-signed with Caps for 2 years, $6 million

It took a while, but Kuznetsov is proving to be worth the wait. After a breakout performance in the playoffs, there was no doubt the team was going to get this done. 

Nate Schmidt: Re-signed with Caps for 2 years, $1.625 million

With the expected loss of both Green and Gleason, Schmidt was penciled in for the third pair for the upcoming season. The team could not afford to let him walk away, but could easily afford the $1.625 million price tag.

Aaron Volpatti: Not signed

The decision to claim him off of waivers was puzzling back in 2013 and he was not utilized that often. After neck fusion surgery limited him to two games with the Caps and five games with the Hershey Bears last season, he's going to have trouble convincing a team to take a chance on him either in the NHL or AHL.

Joel Ward: Signed with San Jose for 3 years, $9.825 million

For Ward to re-sign with the Caps, he would have had to take a pay cut. Instead, he actually got a raise to play for San Jose. Good work if you can get it. It's too bad the Sharks won't get to see him when he's at his best: the playoffs.

MORE CAPITALS: Projecting Caps who could play in the World Cup

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Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.

The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.

Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.

February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.

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3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.

Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.

Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.

2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.

Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.

3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.

Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.