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Capitals select defenseman with first-round pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Capitals select defenseman with first-round pick in 2016 NHL Draft

After trading down two spots and picking up a third-round pick, the Capitals have taken defenseman Lucas Johansen with the 28th pick of the NHL draft.

Johansen, 18, is the younger brother of Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen and was ranked 26th on Central Scouting’s list of North American skaters.

Johansen, a native of Port Moody, British Columbia, put up 10 goals and 39 assists in 69 games for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, a program that has produced star defensemen Shea Weber and Duncan Keith. Capitalas defense prospect Madison Bowey also played in Kelowna.

Johansen stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 176 pounds. His greatest attributes are his skating and passing abilities, but will need to get stronger to play in the NHL.  

Before selecting Johansen, the Caps traded the 26th pick overall to the St. Louis Blues for the 28th selection and the 87th pick overall.

The Caps had gone into the draft without a pick in the second and third rounds and moved quickly by acquiring center Lars Eller from the Montreal Capitals for second-round picks in 2017 and 2018.


Just before the draft began the Capitals announced they had agreed to new two-way contracts for minor-leaguers Paul Carey and Aaron Ness.

Carey, 27, signed a one-year contract. He scored his first NHL goal on Feb. 6 when he netted the game-tying goal in the Capitals’ win over the New Jersey Devils.

Ness, 26, signed a two-year deal. He recorded two assists in eight games with the Caps last season, making his Caps debut on Jan. 2.

Both players are expected to play for the AHL Hershey Bears next season.

Carey was selected by Colorado in the fifth round, 135th overall, in the 2007 NHL draft and has registered two points (one goal, one assist) in 26 career NHL games with Colorado and the Caps. 

Carey netted 13 goals and 18 assists in 44 games with the Bears in 2015-16. He has earned 127 points (55 goals, 72 assists) in 232 career AHL games with Lake Erie, Providence and Hershey.

Ness has registered five points (one goal, four assists) in 37 career NHL games with the Islanders and Caps. Ness earned 27 points (six goals, 21 assists) in 62 games with the Bears last season, ranking second among Bears defensemen.

Ness earned 12 assists in 21 playoff games with Hershey, leading all AHL defensemen in playoff assists. Ness has registered 150 points (29 goals, 121 assists) in 342 career AHL games with Bridgeport and Hershey.

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Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?


Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.