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How would you spend Capitals' extra cap money?

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How would you spend Capitals' extra cap money?

Now that we know the NHL salary cap for 2015-16 has been set at $71.4 million, we can start debating over how the Capitals will get as close to that number as possible in the coming weeks.

First, a financial overview:

The Capitals have 15 players under contract who are expected to be on their roster for next season -- eight forwards, six defensemen and one goaltender. Those salaries, which substitute goalie Philipp Grubauer for Justin Peters, carry an estimated total of $49.8 million, giving the Caps roughly $21.6 million in spending money.

With that in mind, please help fill in the following blanks on the Caps’ projected roster/depth chart for 2015-16:

FORWARDS

Alex Ovechkin [$9.538m] – Nicklas Backstrom [$6.7m] - ???????? [$]

Marcus Johansson [RFA] – Evgeny Kuznetsov [RFA] – Andre Burakovsky [$925,000]

Jason Chimera [$2m] - ????????? [$] - Troy Brouwer [$3.666m]

Brooks Laich [$4.5m] - Michael Latta [$575,000] - Tom Wilson [$894,167]

Options:

Eric Fehr [UFA]

Joel Ward [UFA]

Jay Beagle [UFA]

DEFENSE

Brooks Orpik [$5.5m] - John Carlson [$3.966m]

Karl Alzner [$2.8m] - Matt Niskanen [$5.75m]

Nate Schmidt [$812,500] – Dmitry Orlov [$2m]

Extra: ????? [$]

GOALTENDER

Braden Holtby [RFA] – Philipp Grubauer [$750,000]

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Let’s assume the Caps sign Holtby for a cap hit of $6 million and hand a total of $6 million to Johansson and Kuznetsov. That would eat up $12 million in cap space and reduce the cap room to $9.6 million.

That would leave the Caps $9.6 million to fill the vacancies at top-line right wing, third-line center and seventh defenseman. If the Caps are able to free up even more space by including Brooks Laich or Troy Brouwer in a trade, then just about any trade or signing is in play for the Caps leading up to the draft and July 1 free agency.

If the money was yours, how would you spend it? 

MORE CAPITALS: SHOULD CAPS DRAFT DEFENSEMAN IN FIRST ROUND?

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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.