With training camp approaching, the Caps signed veteran defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka to a professional tryout agreement on Tuesday.
Jokipakka, 26, has played 150 NHL games spread over the past three seasons with Dallas, which drafted him in the seventh round in 2011, Calgary and Ottawa. Last season, he played 38 games with the Flames before being dealt to the Senators at the trade deadline. He played in three games for the Sens.
RELATED: MORE BIG-NAME CAPS MAKE EARLY RETURN TO KETTLER
It’s a low-risk move for the Capitals, who have a few openings on the blue line, including the spare, after losing Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency and Nate Schmidt in the expansion draft.
In 18 games with the Flames in 2015-16, Jokipakka, a 6-3, 215-pound left shot Finn, averaged a career-high 17:54 per contest. He has just three goals and 28 points in those 150 games.
The Caps would love to have a couple of their youngsters step up and seize a spot, but there’s no guarantee that will happen. Jokipakka is insurance.
As things stand now, there are five defensemen on one-way contracts—Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney. Veteran AHLer Aaron Ness has a shot at earning a spot, as do Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey and a handful of other well-regarded prospects. Jokipakka can now be added to that mix.
Training camp is set to begin Sept. 15.
MORE CAPITALS: LARS ELLER HAS THIRD-LINE CENTER SPOT LOCKED DOWN
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.
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.