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Capitals Six-Pack: Will Caps make a trade before the deadline?


Capitals Six-Pack: Will Caps make a trade before the deadline?

NASHVILLE – Greetings from Music City and welcome to our All-Star edition of our six-pack of Capitals questions. Let’s get started:

Will the caps make a trade? @Teen_Titans23

Nothing like getting straight to the point. Yes, I think the Capitals will make a trade before the Feb. 29 trade deadline, and I think they are targeting a veteran defenseman. Part of that decision will hinge on the health of defenseman Brooks Orpik, who has missed the past 33 games with a lower body injury. But not all of it. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan has shown he is not afraid to pull the trigger on a big trade (Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and a pick for T.J. Oshie) and I could see him going hard after Vancouver Canucks pending free agent Dan Hamhuis, who spent the first six years of his NHL career under Barry Trotz in Nashville. Now 33, Hamhuis is recovering from facial fractures suffered on a Dan Boyle shot he took to the jaw back in December. Hamhuis needed extensive surgery to repair the fractures and is expected to return to the Canucks’ lineup in the next week or two. The Canucks are five points out of a wild card spot and could be willing to move Hamhuis, a reliable, two-way, 6-foot-1, 209-pound defenseman from Smithers, B.C. Hamhuis has a full no-move clause in his contract but would likely agree to be dealt to a Stanley Cup contender coached by Barry Trotz, who has a great deal of respect for Hamhuis on and off the ice. Hamhuis is in the final year of a contract that carries a cap hit of $4.5 million and could be slotted anywhere in the Caps’ top six. To get a player like Hamhuis, who has 841 games of NHL experience and 62 more in the playoffs, the Caps might have to part with their first-round draft pick, which could be the 30th pick overall, along with a prospect or roster player such as Stan Galiev.

chuck. Any concern with coaching staff that one game in almost two weeks, caps lose their mojo ? @jmfrie3

Yes and no. You can’t deny the Caps looked rusty in their 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers on Wednesday and it will be interesting to see how playing one game in 13 days will impact Tuesday night’s game against Jaromir Jagr and the Florida Panthers. The players are saying this break is a good thing, almost like a bye week in football where they can heal some banged-up bodies (especially for Alex Ovechkin). But to me the greater concern is the fact the Caps will play 35 games in about 71 days, depending on when they squeeze in those two snowed-out games against the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins. Makeup dates have not been announced by the NHL, but I’m hearing they could be March 1 against the Penguins and possibly two days after the original end of the regular season (April 11) for the Ducks.  That’s a lot of games crammed together, with just five sets of two consecutive days without a game. A lot of players will say they like the routine of playing every other night and it will certainly prepare them for the playoffs, but the final 2½ months will be a grind.

RELATED: How many wins can Holtby finish with this season?

For Friday 6pk. Should we be worried about #70 recent performance. Close to 3GAA and <.900SV% in last 4 games @paprmanjim

The numbers are a little concerning (9 goals in roughly 2½ games, .899 save percentage), but the Caps went 2-0-1 in those games and if you ask Holtby, that’s all he really cares about. Overall, Holtby ranks fifth in the NHL in goals-against average (2.07) and sixth in save percentage (.929). Both are very difficult numbers to maintain throughout a season and at some point you’d have to think the Caps and their goalie will go through a rough patch. That’s why no goalie in league history has won 50 games. That said, Holtby loves getting on the ice every day and is one of the hardest-working goalies in the NHL. He also has perhaps the best goalie coach in the league. With all of that, I don’t see Holtby stumbling badly down the stretch and I think it would be wise for the Caps to give Philip Grubauer at least six, maybe seven, of the Caps’ final 35 games.

So where is the media screaming about the sanctity of the All Star game now? If the stars don't show why bother? @walshy66

There are a lot of opinions out there when it comes to the Capitals’ decision to hold Alex Ovechkin out of Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game. Some say players have an obligation to the fans to attend showcase events like these. I agree and Barry Trotz said he would have liked nothing more than to have Ovechkin join him in Nashville, where Trotz is practically mayor of the city this weekend. But Trotz also made it clear that this was a team decision, not one made exclusively by Ovechkin, and that weeks of discussion went into it. Do I think there was fear of Ovechkin aggravating whatever injury he’s been nursing the past two months? Absolutely. Three weeks ago Trotz said he was concerned about the 3-on-3 All-Star format putting players at risk. (More on that subject later this weekend). Would the Capitals encourage their captain to miss the All-Star Game and take a mandatory one-game suspension if they were fighting for a playoff game? Not likely. But it’s been done many times before – enough times for the NHL to dole out suspensions for players who skip the All-Star Game – and if the Caps think it gives them a better chance of winning a Stanley Cup, it’s tough to make a strong argument against Ovechkin’s absence.

They negotiated suspensions in the CBA, for players that miss the All-Star Game due to injury? @JRTuttle4

Actually, the one-game suspension for healthy players missing an All-Star Game (suspended players reportedly are not docked pay) was adopted in 2008 at the urging of commissioner Gary Bettman because he felt too many stars were opting to rest nagging injuries. The league suspended Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk for missing the 2009 All-Star Game, but did not suspend Sidney Crosby because he attended the event and participated in interviews without actually taking part in the on-ice competitions. The league contends that if a player is healthy enough to play the game prior to the All-Star Game and is not injured in that game, he should participate.

status on mojo?? If not available for panthers would Richards slot into #3 center role? - @gr8willis

I wish I could give you more on Marcus Johansson’s injury. All I can say is that he appeared to be favoring his left arm before leaving the ice against the Flyers on Wednesday night. The Capitals have not provided much else and likely will not until the reconvene for practice at Kettler on Monday afternoon. If Johansson is sidelined, yes, look for Mike Richards to step into his spot at third-line center between Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson. Richards logged 13:04 of ice time on Wednesday, his highest total in four games with the Caps, but not much more than his average of 12:33. Richards has won 59 percent of his faceoffs so far and that would give the caps a nice one-two punch once Jay Beagle returns. But to get back to your question, I could see Richards moving into third-line center and Michael Latta playing fourth-line center with left wing Brooks Laich and right wing Stan Galiev.   

MORE CAPITALS: 20 funny minutes with All-Star Evgeny Kuznetsov 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings