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Four Caps rank among the NHL's top free agents

Four Caps rank among the NHL's top free agents

The Capitals' roster is expected to look very different next season because they will struggle to return several, if any, of their unrestricted free agents. Why? Because several of them will be in high demand.

TSN released its Top 30 Free Agent rankings and four Caps players made the list. Oops, sorry, buried the lead there. Four Caps' free agents made the top six of TSN's list. Considering how teams tend to overpay for the top free agents on the market, you can see why it will be difficult to keep them in Washington.

RELATED: Capitals release preseason schedule

Veteran Justin Williams comes in at No. 6. The savvy veteran has won three Stanley Cups in his career and had a productive season with 48 points, but at 35-years-old, teams will be paying for his leadership more than anything else. Karl Alzner is No. 4. With Dmitry Orlov, Matt Niskanen, Nate Schmidt and John Carlson expected to round out the team's top-four on the blue line, the Caps likely cannot afford to pay Alzner anything close to what he can make on the market. His value to the team is much lower than it would be on several others across the league.

Fan favorite T.J. Oshie comes in at No. 2. If the Caps were to retain any of their UFAs, Oshie would be the most likely candidate, but, as the highest forward on the list, he will be the top winger on the market and is due a major, major pay raise. Washington just may not have the cap room to pay him what he is worth. Could he possibly take a hometown discount? Perhaps, but there comes a point when one player is leaving just too much money on the table.

Topping the list? None other than Kevin Shattenkirk. That may surprise Caps fans as Shattenkirk did not play up to his potential in Washington, but let's not be prisoners of the moment. Deadline acquisitions struggle more often than not and Shattenkirk did, in fact, have a career before this season's trade deadline. His entire resume does not consist solely of two months with Washington.

Would I personally rank Shattenkirk over Oshie? No. That likely has something to do with him being a 28-year-old defenseman vs. Oshie as a 30-year-old wing, but there is no question he is the top defenseman on the market.

Where would you rank the Caps among the top free agents?

MORE CAPITALS: 20 questions: Which bottom-six forwards should Caps protect?

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings


3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

Not much separated the Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. A late 2-on-0 goal for Brett Connolly proved to be the difference.

Here's why the Caps ultimately walked away with the 1-0 win.

A first period goalie interference call

Andreas Athanasiou thought he had given the Red Wings a first period lead, but Barry Trotz challenged the call for goalie interference. The review showed that Tyler Bertuzzi clipped Philipp Grubauer in the head with an elbow right before the shot went in. Given how long it took the Caps to get going in this game, it is fair to say an early deficit would have been hard to overcome.


Killing off a full two-minute 5-on-3

Two man advantages are hard to kill. Killing off a full two-minutes at 5-on-3, that's a tall task. With the game still scoreless in the second period, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller were both assessed penalties giving Detroit two-full minutes at 5-on-3. The Red Wings managed four shots on goal, but Washington was able to successfully kill off the penalty and keep the game scoreless.

Philipp Grubauer

There were few players who had strong efforts on Tuesday, but Grubauer was phenomenal. Even when the game felt sleepy in the first two periods, Detroit still managed 28 shots on goal, all of which were turned aside by the German netminder. When Washington finally took the lead in the third, the Red Wings woke up and began pushing the offense, but Grubauer was in the zone at that point and could not be beaten. His best save came in the third period when he stared down a breakaway from Athanasiou and extended the pad to deny the shot.


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Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings


Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings

It wasn’t pretty but the Caps eventually got what they needed in Detroit: two points.  

After a sleepy first 40 minutes, Brett Connolly scored midway through the third period and then Philipp Grubauer made sure it stood up at Little Caesars Arena, where Washington eked out a 1-0 victory Thursday over the scuffling Red Wings.


Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Philipp Grubauer, Capitals

For much of the game, Grubi was left to fend for himself. Good thing for the Caps he was up to the task. The German netminder, who has been one of the NHL’s top goaltenders since Thanksgiving, turned aside 39 shots, including three stops on a pivotal 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period.

2-Brett Connolly, Capitals

The Caps didn’t get many Grade-A opportunities vs. Jimmy Howard. But Connolly buried one of the few they got…on a 2-on-0, set up by Jakub Vrana in the third period.

Connolly’s goal was his 15th of the season in his 63rd game, equaling the career-high he set a year ago in 66 contests. Vrana, meantime, has three goals and five assists since getting scratched 12 games ago.

3-Lars Eller, Capitals

Eller didn’t record a point, but he was all over the puck in Motown. The veteran center finished with a game-high six shots on net. He also had a key backcheck against Darren Helm, on a shorthanded breakaway, in the first period.

Eller was good in the dot, too, winning eight of 12 faceoffs.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.