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Who is on Capitals' free-agent shopping list?

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Who is on Capitals' free-agent shopping list?

When he addressed the media a few days after the Capitals were eliminated by the New York Rangers in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, general manager Brian MacLellan said one of his priorities for the summer would be finding a top-line right wing to play alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

At the time, he said he would be more likely to find that player in a trade and not through free agency. MacLellan reiterated those thoughts following Saturday’s NHL’s draft, saying he will monitor the cost of free agency when it begins at noon on Wednesday, but is not in a position to overpay like last year, when the Caps spent more than $67 million on defensemen Brooks Orpik and Mat Niskanen.

Assuming the Capitals commit roughly $5 million in cap space to restricted free agent goaltender Braden Holtby and a combined $7 million in cap space to RFA forwards Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov, MacLellan would have an estimated $6 million to spend on a top-line right wing and a seventh defenseman.

For what it’s worth, the Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, Canadiens and Senators also have cited the need for a top-six forward, which could drive up the prices paid on Wednesday.

If MacLellan indeed decides to fill the Caps’ need through free agency, here is a list of right wings that might interest him:

Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings

Age: 33

2014-15 stats: 18-23-41 in 81 games, 15:49

2014-15 cap hit: $3.65 million

Scouting report: A three-time Stanley Cup champion and the Conn Smythe winner in 2014, Williams is a proven playoff performer who appears to have some tread left on his tires despite 918 career regular season games and 115 playoff games. Williams plays a strong two-way game with a bit of an edge. Much like Joel Ward, the Caps probably would prefer a two-year contract, but Williams will seek four years and could get $4 million per. Williams has said he wants to stay in L.A., “but if not, I’m going to try to restart my career somewhere else, turn the page and try to win as many hockey games as I can. I’m at a point in my career where it’s not all about money, it’s about winning for me.”

Drew Stafford, Winnipeg Jets

Age: 29

2014-15 stats: 18-25-43 in 76 games, 16:29

2014-15 cap hit: $4 million

Scouting report: At 6-foot-2, 214 pounds, Stafford has size, skill and a willingness to drive the net, making him a perfect complement to Ovechkin and Backstrom. Stafford has consistently been in the 20-goal range, topping out at 31 goals in 2010-11. At 29 he’ll be seeking at least four years and likely will command $5 million or more in average salary.

Erik Cole, Detroit Red Wings

Age: 36

2014-15 stats: 21-18-39 in 68 games, 14:32

2014-15 cap hit: $4.5 million

Scouting report: Even at the age of 36 Cole has proven himself as a hard-charging, in-your-face power forward who can finish. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds he could give the Caps’ top line a heavy element and he can play the diamond on the power play. He can also slide down and play a second or third line role and be effective. He likely won’t get more than two years and he’d come at a palatable cap hit, probably in the $3.5 million range.

Chris Stewart, Minnesota Wild

Age: 27

2014-15 stats: 14-22-36 in 81 games, 15:52

2014-15 cap hit: $4.15 million

Scouting report: He’s got great size [6-2, 231] and a powerful shot, but for the most part, Stewart has fallen short of expectations, spending seven NHL seasons with four different organizations. Stewart has 30-goal potential but has hovered in the 15-goal range the past four seasons and may have trouble increasing his salary because of it. If the Caps can sign Stewart for two or three years with a cap hit of about $4 million, he might be worth the investment. Anything higher, they’d probably pass.

Michael Frolik, Winnipeg Jets

Age: 27

2014-15 stats: 19-23-42 in 82 games, 17:30

2014-15 cap hit: $3.3 million

Scouting report: Frolik plays a high skill game and can find holes to release a quick shot. His 19 goals last season represented his highest output since 2008-09 and 2009-10 when he netted back-to-back 21-goal seasons in his first two years in Florida. Frolik won a Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013, recording three goals and seven assists in 23 games while averaging 13:09 of ice time.

MORE CAPITALS: CENTER JAY BEAGLE SIGNED TO MULTI-YEAR DEAL

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Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

After three straight wins, the Caps now sit just one win away from closing out the Columbus Blue Jackets. They will get their shot to finish the series Monday in Game 6.

Nicklas Backstrom was the hero in Game 5 for Washington with three points including the overtime winner. Who will step up in Game 6? The Caps will need to make sure it's not Artemi Panarin who has been held without a point in two straight games. Washington will also need to make sure their penalty kill stays hot as they have killed off 13 straight power plays for the Blue Jackets.

The Pittsburgh Penguins await the winner of this series after closing out the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Will the Caps close out Columbus and set up the rematch?

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 6

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Washington currently leads the series 3-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 6, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE

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Capitals one win away from facing the Penguins ... again

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Capitals one win away from facing the Penguins ... again

The Washington Capitals are one win away from advancing to the second round of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

If they do beat the Blue Jackets in Game 6 or Game 7, a familiar foe awaits them.

The Pittsburgh Penguins ended their series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday with a 8-5 win in Game 6. They will play the winner of the Capitals-Columbus Blue Jackets series.

Because of course they will.

The Penguins have beaten the Capitals in the second round in each of the past two seasons. The series went six games in 2016 and seven in 2017.

Washington’s biggest rival has been a thorn in the side of the Caps throughout the team’s history. Washington and Pittsburgh have met in the postseason 10 times. Only once have the Caps come out victorious, in 1994.

Pittsburgh has won five Stanley Cups in their history and each time, they had to beat the Caps in the playoffs to do it.

The emergence of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin helped to reignite the Washington-Pittsburgh rivalry, but that too has been one sided. Crosby has won three Stanley Cups while Ovechkin has never advanced past the second round.

Before you despair, however, consider this. Coming into the season, no one knew what to expect from the Capitals. Expectations were low. Somehow, Washington managed to overcome the loss of several players in the offseason and managed to win the Metropolitan Division.

In a season in which the Caps have already defied expectations, perhaps this will be the year they finally get past Pittsburgh and advance to the conference final. Maybe? Please?

First things first, they still need one more win against Columbus. Game 6 will be Monday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

MORE CAPITALS:
How the Caps stymied Artemi Panarin
Nick Backstrom's Game 5 heroics, explained
Capitals' PK unit the series difference-maker
John Tortorella makes Game 7 proclamation