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Plenty of veteran defensemen still on NHL market


Plenty of veteran defensemen still on NHL market

The start of NHL training camps is still 10 days away and there are quite a few unsigned veterans waiting by their cell phones for a chance to continue their careers, likely at a steeply discounted price.

Depending on that price, would the Caps be interested in making a call? If so, who might interest them?

Up front, the Caps appear to be set with 12 forwards (including Michael Latta) under contract and a handful  of prospects (Stan Galiev, Liam O’Brien, Chandler  Stephenson and Jakub Vrana) hoping to grab a spot as a 13th forward.

Between the pipes the Caps are expected to go with Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer, which means Justin Peters likely would be placed on waivers with the intent of him playing in Hershey. That would clear an additional $950,000 in cap space, giving the Caps roughly $1.4 million in cap room.

Which brings us to the Capitals’ blue line.

With John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner locked in as the Caps’ top two pairings, the Caps have 24-year-old defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt penciled in as their third pair, with Taylor Chorney, 28, slated as a seventh defenseman. Madison Bowey, Connor Carrick and Aaron Ness are also on the Caps’ defensive depth chart, but what if they decide they need a veteran presence among their bottom three?

MORE CAPITALS Chimera embracing veteran role with the Caps

Would anyone on this list of free agents interest them if they remain unsigned through the end of September and can be acquired at a discounted price?

Cody Franson, 27, (2014-15 cap hit: $3.3 million)

Franson is big (6-5, 213) and is a right shot, which the Caps could use, but he’s coming off a sub-par season (7-29-36, minus-7) and 30 teams have declined to sign him since he became a free agent.

Andrej Meszaros, 29, (2014-15 cap hit: $4.75 million)

At 6-2, 223 pounds, Meszaros is a strong, solid defender with 645 games of NHL experience.  He averaged nearly 18 minutes a game for the Sabres last season but was a minus-13 in 60 games.

Anton Volchenkov, 33, (2014-15 cap hit: $1 million)

If you want a guy willing to get in front of screaming slap shots and get in the face of opponents, Volchenkov is your man. But 12 years of blocking shots have taken a toll on the Russian blue liner, who is hoping to get one more season out of his bruised body.

Marek Zidlicky, 38, (2014-15 cap hit: $4 million)

Another veteran on the backside of his career, Zidlicky gives you everything Volchenkov doesn’t. He’s got a right-shot cannon from the point and can run a power play as well as anyone. He’s also extremely durable for a man his age, playing in 84 games last season for the Devils and Red Wings, recording seven goals and 27 assists.

Tim Gleason, 32, (2014-15 cap hit: $1.2 million)

The Caps know exactly what they’re getting with Gleason, a hard-nosed, shot-blocking veteran who said he’d like to return to Washington after logging an average of 13:07 in 14 playoff games last spring.


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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.

Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.

It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

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

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4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

The Caps looked like they had the win in hand as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers

Here's how the Caps lost.

An emotional start for Robert Luongo

Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus to actually play in the game. But he did. He started off very well, making several strong saves in the first period. Washington scored late in the opening period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.

Another shaky start for Braden Holtby

This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.

Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson

With a 2-1 lead late in the third, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking, Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.

A late penalty to Lars Eller

With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but a point as well.