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Making sense out of why the Caps waived Laich


Making sense out of why the Caps waived Laich

OK, let’s try to make some sense out of what happened with Brooks Laich, John Carlson, Jay Beagle and the Capitals today.

By placing Laich on waivers, other NHL teams have 24 hours – until noon on Sunday – to claim him and take on the remainder of his contract, which has one more year and $4 million remaining, along with a $4.5 million cap hit.

Given Laich’s offensive struggles this season, that won’t happen.

In fact, Caps coach Barry Trotz said Saturday that Laich is joining the Caps on their trip to Chicago and could be in the lineup when the Caps face the Blackhawks at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, 30 minutes after he is expected to clear waivers.

If Laich clears, the Caps could assign him to Hershey following Sunday’s game, freeing up $950,000 in cap space through Monday’s 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline.  That, conceivably, would give general manager Brian MacLellan the flexibility needed to acquire the depth forward he said he’d like to add before the trade deadline.

The Capitals are currently at the 23-man roster limit, so placing Carlson on long-term injury reserve, which they almost certainly will do now that he will miss three to four weeks following a procedure Saturday to repair a lower body injury, would give them an additional $3.966 million of cap relief while also allowing them to activate center Jay Beagle ($1.75 million cap hit), who could return to the lineup as early as Sunday following Jan. 2 surgery to repair a broken hand.

Once MacLellan is finished tinkering with his roster on Monday afternoon, the 23-man limit is lifted, allowing the Caps to recall Laich from Hershey if they wish to do so. It is important to remember, however, that although a team can carry additional players on its roster following Monday’s deadline, they must remain under the salary cap.

Theoretically, the Caps could add a player before the deadline and carry him on the roster until Carlson comes off long-term injury, at which point that player could be sent to Hershey to make room under the cap for Carlson.  

MORE CAPITALS: Carlson out several weeks after undergoing lower-body procedure

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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.