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With Orlov still unsigned, is it time for the Caps to talk back-up plan?

With Orlov still unsigned, is it time for the Caps to talk back-up plan?

It looked like everything was in place. With limited cap room and two restricted free agents left to sign, the Caps focused their efforts on the more expensive of the two, Marcus Johansson. After he was signed, however, getting a deal done with Dmitry Orlov should have quickly followed.

Yet, here we are with the calendar about to turn from July to August and Orlov remains unsigned.

While Orlov remains likely to sign—his options as an RFA are rather limited—every passing day in which he doesn’t sign makes it feel like the negotiations are not going as smoothly as perhaps we all assumed they would. So what happens to the Caps if for some reason Orlov is not on the roster next season?

Right now, the Caps have six defensemen on the roster: Matt Niskanen, Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, Nate Schmidt and Taylor Chorney. While Chorney has shown he can be relied upon in spot duty, he is not someone the Caps want to play every day.


Orlov was on the Caps’ third defensive pairing last season, but Brian MacLellan has indicated he sees an increased role for him in 2016-17. Given Orpik’s struggles in the playoffs, it’s not hard to guess who the Caps may want to move back in the lineup.

What the Caps needs then is a cheap puck-moving defenseman they can rely to play in the top four.

The Caps could potentially trade for a defenseman, but they are not getting a top-four guy for cheap. The Caps are already without a second-round pick the next two years and a third in 2017 so they are getting thin in terms of picks to sell. They have a lot of prospects they could trade, but with so many contracts expiring at the end of this season, MacLellan will likely be reluctant to trade any of those players he believes to be the future of the team.

That gives the Caps two options. Promote someone from the AHL or sign a free agent.

Aaron Ness is the most experienced defensive prospect at 26 years old. He played eight games for the Caps last season, but for a Capitals team with Stanley Cup aspirations, adding Ness would not be an upgrade to the blue line.

Madison Bowey is the defensive prospect with the highest ceiling. It’s not ideal for a young defenseman with no NHL experience to be thrust into the top-six, but Bowey is not coming to Washington to sit in the press box and hurt his development. If he’s in Washington, he’s playing.

The good news is that the Caps could pair the right-handed Bowey with the left-handed Orpik on the third pair. Playing with a veteran like Orpik would certainly help Bowey and their playing styles would compliment one another well. The downside to that is it would mean bumping Schmidt to a second pair with Carlson, something Schmidt may not be quite ready for.

What about free agents? The problem with looking for free agents in August is that there is a reason why those players are still available. Whether they are old, injured, expensive or just plain bad, it’s not as if the Caps will be finding a young Zdeno Chara willing to take $2.5 million at this point in the summer.

James Wisniewski is free agent coming off a six-year contract with a $5.5 million cap hit. He’s not going to come to Washington for $2.5 million. And if you believe the Caps should offer someone a longer contract just to get him to take less money, let’s not forget that the team still needs to re-sign Karl Alzner after this season and he will be due a significant raise from the $2.8 million he’s getting now. They cannot afford to commit long-term to someone they are only taking out of desperation.

So at this point, the Caps’ best option for a cheap, puck-moving defenseman who could perhaps be capable of playing in the top four remains Orlov. The good news for them is that Orlov’s best option as a restricted free agent who wants to stay in North America is to sign with the Caps. A deal is still likely to get done because it’s the best option for both parties, the question is when?


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Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.

Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.

His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.

It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.


NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.

The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of


At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:

Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.

The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.

“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins.

With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.



Eastern Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1M Washington Capitals (93pts) vs. WC1 Philadelphia Flyers (88pts)
2M Pittsburgh Penguins (89pts) vs. 3M Columbus Blue Jackets (89pts)
1A Tampa Bay Lightning (106pts) vs. WC2 New Jersey Devils (82pts)
2A Boston Bruins (100pts) vs. 3A Toronto Maple Leafs (95pts)

Western Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1C Nashville Predators (106pts) vs. WC1Anaheim Ducks (88pts)
2C Winnipeg Jets (98pts) vs. 3C Minnesota Wild (90pts)
1P Las Vegas Golden Knights (100pts) vs. WC2 Colorado Avalanche (88pts)
2P San Jose Sharks (93pts) vs. 3P Los Angeles Kings (89pts)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings.

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington Capitals (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
2. Boston Bruins (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Philadelphia Flyers (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)
WC2. New Jersey Devils (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

Still in the Hunt:
Florida Panthers (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Central Division
1. Nashville Predators (106 points, 73 GP, 43 ROW)
2. Winnipeg Jets (98 points, 73 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Minnesota Wild (90 points, 73 GP, 38 ROW)

Pacific Division
1. Las Vegas Golden Knights (100 points, 74 GP, 44 ROW)
2. San Jose Sharks (93 points, 74 GP, 38 ROW)
3. Los Angeles Kings (89 points, 75 GP, 39 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Anaheim Ducks (88 points, 74 GP, 34 ROW)
WC2. Colorado Avalanche (88 points, 74 GP, 39 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
St. Louis Blues (85 points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)