Tarik El-Bashir - Capitals Insider

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Caps solidify center position with five-year deal for Eller

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Caps solidify center position with five-year deal for Eller

Lars Eller has signed a five-year contract extension to remain with the Capitals through the 2022-23 season, the team announced Saturday morning.

The deal is worth a total of $17.5 million, with salaries of $5 million ($1 million signing bonus), $4 million ($1 million signing bonus), $2.5 million, $3 million and $3 million. (Figures courtesy of Caps reporter Mike Vogel.)

RELATED: LARS ELLER WAS ONE OF THE STARS OF THE GAME FROM FRIDAY'S WIN

Eller’s average salary on the new deal will be $3.5 million, which is what he’ll earn this season.

The 28-year-old third line center was due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Eller is in the midst of a career year in Washington, having racked up 11 goals and 17 assists for the Metropolitan Division’s top team. That puts him on pace for a career-high 43 points.

MORE CAPITALS: HERE'S WHY THE CAPS BEAT THE BLUE JACKETS ON FRIDAY

With Eller locked up, the Caps now have their top three centers in place for the next few years. Evgeny Kuznetsov inked an eight-year extension in July, while Nicklas Backstrom is signed through the 2019-20 season.

The remaining UFAs on the Capitals’ roster are John Carlson, Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson and Taylor Chorney. The RFAs are Tom Wilson, Philipp Grubauer, Devante Smith-Pelly and Madison Bowey.

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Now that Trotz has Burakovsky's attention, will the Caps winger respond?

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Now that Trotz has Burakovsky's attention, will the Caps winger respond?

Andre Burakovsky’s status for Friday’s game against the Blue Jackets remains unclear, but Coach Barry Trotz was very clear about what he needs from the fourth-year winger: more production and fewer miscues with the puck.

“We’ve all seen it—he’s a really good player,” Trotz said after Thursday’s practice. “We’ve seen it in the playoffs. He just hasn’t found his game.”

RELATED: RILEY BARBER IS SCORING, BRIAN PINHO IS UP FOR ANOTHER AWARD AND GARRET PILON IS MAKING AN IMPRESSION

On Tuesday night in Columbus, Burakovsky did not see the ice in the third period of Washington’s 3-2 victory. In fact, his 6:34 of playing time was a season-low.

“Some of the decisions he was making, I was just trying to get his attention a little bit,” Trotz said of the benching.

On Thursday, Burakovsky appeared to be the odd man out in practice as Alex Chiasson took his spot on the third line. 

Trotz, meantime, said he and his coaching staff have invested significant time working with Burakovsky off the ice this season. Now, though, it’s time for that tutelage to begin clicking on the rink.  

“There’s certain things that we can help him with as a coaching staff,” Trotz added. “We’re helping him all the time, pointing out things to him and showing him a lot of film. Now it’s really on Andre. He’s not a first [or] second-year player. He’s a fourth-year player now. We need him down the stretch here.”

MORE CAPITALS: THE CAPS WOULD BE A DIFFERENT TEAM WITHOUT TOM WILSON

It’s obviously been a difficult season for Burakovsky, who turns 23 on Friday. There were big expectations heaped on the 2013 first rounder after he inked a two-year, $6 million extension last summer. Then he stumbled a bit out of the gate. Then he suffered a broken thumb that required surgery and cost him 21 games. Then he got scratched. Then he got sick. Then he got scratched again.

In all, he has accumulated just 4 goals and 11 points in 28 contests.

Burakovsky acknowledged that things haven’t gone how he had envisioned. But he was also quick to express optimism about the final 29 games.

“It’s definitely has not been easy,” he said. “It’s not really what I was expecting of this year at all. But we still have the most important left of the season. I’m just going to get ready for the playoffs so I can help the team as much as I can.”

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps strike late to steal win in Columbus

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps strike late to steal win in Columbus

The Caps entered Tuesday’s game in Columbus having not lost three consecutive games in regulation.

That streak is still intact thanks to a 3-2 victory at Nationwide Arena, where Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and John Carlson provided the offense and Braden Holtby chipped in with some clutch goaltending.

Here are Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

Backstrom got goal No. 200—and he couldn’t have scored it in a more dramatic way. The Swede put a perfect crossing pass from T.J. Oshie into an empty net to provide the winning margin with 43 seconds left to play.

He’s now the fifth Capital with 200 or more goals, joining Alex Ovechkin, Peter Bondra, Mike Gartner and Mike Ridley.

2-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Holtby played one of his best games of the season, turning back 37 shots. His top stop came late in the second period when he got just enough of his blocker on a Cam Atkinson shot from the slot to preserve the 2-1 lead.

3-Tom Wilson, Capitals

Wilson’s sweet second period goal put the Caps ahead 2-1 and ended a 12-game drought for No. 43.

The goal was Wilson’s seventh of the season, equaling his career high (twice), with 29 games left to play. The 23-year-old power forward also had a fight, easily taking down Josh Anderson.

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