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Capitals claim Dmitrij Jaskin off waivers, make flurry of roster moves before roster deadline

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Capitals claim Dmitrij Jaskin off waivers, make flurry of roster moves before roster deadline

With Tom Wilson facing a lengthy suspension, the Capitals made a move Tuesday to add more forward depth by claiming St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin off waivers.

Jaskin, 25, is a right wing with over 250 games of NHL experience. Last season, he scored six goals and 17 points in 76 games for the Blues. He enjoyed a career year in 2014-15 when he scored 13 goals and 18 points.

With the lineup seemingly all but set for Wednesday’s opener, the question then is why would the Caps make this move? The answer is Wilson.

“We thought we needed some forward depth to protect us through whatever might happen with Tom,” general manager Brian MacLellan said Tuesday.

Wilson is facing what is likely to be a significant suspension for his hit to Oskar Sundqvist in Sunday’s preseason finale.

When a player is suspended, both he and his $5.16 million cap hit remains on the roster. That obviously presents a challenge to the team to add a player into the lineup for as long as Wilson will be out.

“We were feeling a little vulnerable in our forward depth depending on what happens with Tom and his hearing,” MacLellan said. “We like the player, we think the player has some upside and with the possible suspension of Tom we’re adding a big body that can make some plays and go to the net and has a similar skillset as Tom.”

Jaskin is more proven on the ice than Nathan Walker or Jayson Megna. While the team could feel comfortable plugging either player in for spot duty, Jaskin appears to be a better option if Wilson is indeed suspended for six or more games.

Jaskin’s cap hit is $1.1 million and his addition also led to a number of roster moves to get within the salary cap and the 23-player limit by Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

First, defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler was reassigned to Hershey. He is waiver exempt and could be reassigned at any time. Second, Michal Kempny was placed on injured reserve and Travis Boyd was placed on long-term injured reserve.

By placing Kempny on IR, he will be required to sit out for seven days, meaning he will miss both Wednesday’s opener and Thursday in Pittsburgh, both of which Todd Reirden said Tuesday he would miss anyway.

Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) is used for players who are expected to miss a minimum of 10 NHL games and 24 days in the NHL season.

When used, a team’s upper salary cap limit is changed to what is called the accruable cap space limit which is extremely complicated to calculate. To put it simply, it is a way for a team to exceed the cap ceiling based on the injured player’s cap hit.

While Boyd will now have to miss ten games, the good news is that was about the timeline for him anyway, according to MacLellan.

This is an unfortunate series of events for Siegenthaler who looked poised to make the roster out of camp. While his waiver status made it doubtful he would stay in Washington long-term, sending him back to Hershey not only means he will not be making his NHL debut in Kempny’s absence, but also  means will miss out on an NHL salary during Kempny’s absence.

“[Siegenthaler] had a great camp,” MacLellan said Tuesday to reporters. “Everybody here is excited about the way he played. He probably doesn’t deserve to be sent down based on play alone but because of suspensions, because of roster, because of salary cap it’s just a pure business decision that he has to go down for a while.

“Realistically he might not have played the first few games anyway so it will work itself out.”

Those three moves would put Washington at 23 players and just under cap for now, but it will also leave only six defensemen on the roster for the first two games of the season.

After you watch the banner raise on Wednesday, cross your fingers that the Caps escape Wednesday’s game unscathed on the blue line or it will require a few more moves before they take the ice Thursday in Pittsburgh.

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Capitals Mailbag Part 2: Are the Caps good enough to go on another deep run?

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Capitals Mailbag Part 2: Are the Caps good enough to go on another deep run?

It’s time for a new Capitals mailbag! You can read Wednesday’s Part 1 here.

Check out Part 2 below.

Have a Caps question you want to be answered in the next mailbag? Send it on Twitter using #CapsMailNBC or by email to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com.

Please note, some questions have been edited for clarity.

I don’t know why Wilson and Gudas’ relationship would be any different from anyone else on the team. From what I have heard, Gudas is a very nice guy off the ice and there are few players, if anyone, who is as nice as Wilson. If you are asking because they fought once before, that does not matter. It was years ago, back when Gudas was in Tampa Bay. It is not like either player has been holding a grudge ever since. Don’t forget, Dmitrij Jaskin’s last fight was against Wilson in 2017 and he was still welcomed into Washington. This won’t be an issue.

As for their relationship on the ice, let’s just say there are a lot of teams that are going to be looking over their shoulders for 60 minutes every single game when they play the Caps.

Mike K. writes: Dmitrij Jaskin hasn’t point produced but he’s strong on the puck and tough on the boards and has been able to create his own shot in tight spaces. I’m puzzled by the shunning when he’s been a difference maker on the ice. Brian MacLellan clearly sees talent which is why they kept him. Does he have a chance to earn a bottom 6 role? Do you have a projected top 9? Can we make a deep run with this roster?

When it comes to Jaskin they have to sign him first.

Like you, I was puzzled with how Jaskin was used over the season. He seemed to play well every time he got into the lineup, but for whatever reason, Todd Reirden did not appear to be a fan. Now as a restricted free agent, his future with the team is up in the air.

For most restricted free agents, it is an easy decision to bring them back. With Washington tight up against the salary cap, however, they may not be enough cap space to commit to him if he is not going to have a more regular role in the lineup.

It is clear the fourth line needs an upgrade. Is Jaskin good enough that he represents an upgrade or is the team better off letting him walk and saving as much cap space as possible to pursue more productive options? If he does sign, his role would be on the fourth line.

My projected top-nine as of now:

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin – Lars Eller – free agent or trade

I ultimately do not think Connolly or Andre Burakovsky end up back with the team so they will need to find someone to plug into that third line who is not yet on the roster. This is where the salary cap not being determined yet or potentially being lower than that projected $83 million really hurts.

Can they make a deep run? It depends on who they get. I am not going to overreact to last season. The roster is roughly the same as the one that won the Cup and there was no reason to dismantle it just because they ran out of gas in the playoffs. Having said that, it is a fair question to ask when you could potentially lose Connolly, Burakovsky, Devante Smith-Pelly, Matt NIskanen and Brooks Orpik and replace them with Radko Gudas whoever they can afford through trades and free agency.

I will say yes, the team can still go on a deep run with the caveat that I want to see what the roster looks like after free agency. If they completely whiff and fail to address their need for depth offense, then I will change my opinion.

Nathan S. writes: Why is NHL behind the trend set by MLB and NFL where managing and coaching trends are toward younger and more innovative leaders (Alex Cora and Sean McVay come to mind)?

Be careful what you wish for. The trend for younger managers in the MLB largely stems from the analytics movement that, in my opinion, completely undervalues managers. If you are managing just based on analytics, you can go cheaper and younger and it won’t matter. But those managers do not know how to manage players and personalities. I am not a dinosaur, I recognize the value of analytics and I am not arguing for the antiquated notion that numbers can’t tell us anything because the game is played on the field and not on the spreadsheet. But you cannot pretend that managing players and a team is just about the numbers.

Having said that, I see what you’re saying. Hockey very much as an “old guard” problem. Whenever a head coaching vacancy opens up, it always seems like the same candidates and coaches are recycled over and over again. There is just a different mentality in hockey that says you have to have the experienced coach in order to succeed. In the NFL and MLB, however, a lot of teams are starting to take the exact opposite approach believing that you have to find someone willing to be different in order to succeed.

This is changing a bit in the NHL as we have seen a few more general managers venture into the college ranks to find head coaches. Hopefully that will lead to other general managers looking outside the box to find their next bench boss. Really all it takes is for one coach to find success, then everyone will follow.

Rodney O. writes: Has a team ever won a Stanley Cup and their affiliate (ECHL, AHL) won the league championship as well in the same year?

The Stanley Cup winners have seen their AHL affiliates go on the win the Calder Cup in the same year three times. Both the Montreal Canadiens and affiliate Nova Scotia Voyageurs won in 1976 and 1977 as did the New Jersey Devils and Albany River Rats in 1995. Those two Montreal wins came before the ECHL was founded and the 1995 winner of the Kelly Cup was the Richmond Renegades who, at the time, was the affiliate of the Hartford Whalers so no, it does not appear an organization has ever been able to pull off the triple NHL, AHL, ECHL championship.

Nathan S. writes: How much of the fact that no Canadian team has won the SC since 93 and many Canadian teams struggle to even make the playoffs consistently because so many players are reluctant to play in Canada (even Canadians) because of taxes, media/fan pressure, weather, and lack of endorsement opportunities?

Taxes are something analysts love to talk about, but I truly believe that is more of a talking point than a factor in players not going to Canada. I am not saying it doesn’t matter, I’m just saying I do not believe it matters as much as we think it does. There are still big-money players in Canada and let’s not forget that Toronto won the John Tavares sweepstakes, the biggest free agency extravaganza in years. Before you say, Tavares doesn’t count because he grew up a Toronto fan, that is exactly my point. Of all the factors that went into his decision, the positives outweighed the negatives such as taxes.

Also, it’s not as if every team in the U.S. is tax-free. Only two states with NHL teams, Florida and Texas, do not have any income tax while California has the highest income tax in the country. And yet both Anaheim and Los Angeles have won the Cup since 1993 and San Jose is seemingly always in contention.

I would also quibble with your idea that there are limited endorsement opportunities. I think there are plenty of those in Canadian markets especially Toronto and Montreal.

As for your other factors, media and fan pressure is real and I think definitely a factor. You hear a lot of relief from players who leave Toronto and are able to walk down the street without getting harassed by fans and media. Weather can be a factor and you hear a lot of players list Winnipeg and Edmonton on their no trade lists because of this and because there is a perception that there is nothing to do there. Then again, the weather is nice in Arizona and you do not exactly see players lining up to be a Coyote.

For me, the two biggest factors are the league’s efforts to expand to more American markets and the salary cap. Since 1990, the NHL has added 10 teams, 11 if you count Seattle in 2021. Only two of those new teams were in Canada, eventually three when the Atlanta Thrashers eventually moved to Winnipeg. In 1990, seven of 21 teams were in Canada, or one-third of the league. As of 2021, seven out of 32 teams will be in Canada. That’s less than a quarter. Simple math says those teams will not win as much.

Second, while the salary cap was not instituted until 2005, it mitigated one of the biggest advantages teams like Montreal and Toronto had. Those teams are held in high regard because of history and tradition, but in terms of money they are just like everyone else, beholden to the same salary cap.

Thanks for all of your questions!. If you have a question you want to be read and answered in the next mailbag, send it to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com or use #CapsMailNBC on Twitter.

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Capitals remain busy as NHL Draft approaches

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Capitals remain busy as NHL Draft approaches

The Capitals have been busy this past week and more offseason moves are likely soon as the NHL convenes in Vancouver for its annual entry draft. 

With forward Carl Hagelin re-signed and defenseman Matt Niskanen traded to Philadelphia for defenseman Radko Gudas to free salary-cap space, Washington general manager Brian MacLellan still has decisions to make in the long-term and the short. 

The draft begins at 8 p.m. EST Friday with the first round on NBC Sports Network and on the NBC sports app. Rounds two through seven begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday. MacLellan will talk to reporters on Thursday afternoon. After talking to NHL sources to gauge some sense of the Capitals’ thinking heading into the draft, here is what to look for this weekend beyond the picks. 

Andre Burakovsky

The restricted free agent frustrated coaches and executives alike for much of last season and improved play late in the year might not be enough to save him this time. The Capitals must at least offer Burakovsky a $3.25 million qualifying offer to keep his rights or he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team. That’s a steep price for a player who has scored 12 goals each of the past three seasons and has yet to reach 40 points. 

Multiple NHL sources say Washington is listening to offers for Burakovsky again and that a trade this weekend is a distinct possibility. Whether that would be to simply to recoup draft picks or make a player-for-player deal is unclear. 

No one likes to burn a first-round pick with obvious talent, especially not when scoring depth is still needed. In the final 28 games of the 2018-19 season, including the seven-game Stanley Cup playoff series against Carolina, Burakovsky had six goals and four assists. One of those goals was another Game 7 tally against the Hurricanes on top of the two he had in Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Final at Tampa Bay. 

Again, exactly what kind of deal the Capitals would need to move Burakovsky isn’t known. Draft picks or prospects don’t make a ton of sense for a team that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently wrote was in “go for it” mode with its core group aging. But the thought is a fresh start would be good for the player if there’s a reasonable deal to be made. 

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Wednesday afternoon that Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi has demanded a trade and Sportsnet’s Mark Spector quoted his agent saying he won’t play for the club again. The fourth pick in the 2016 draft, Puljujarvi, too, has struggled to live up to expectations with 17 goals and 20 assists in three seasons (139 games) and had surgery on both hips in March. He’s still just 21, a big body at 6-foot-4, 201 pounds and a right wing. 

Burakovsky is a far more accomplished player at this point and the Capitals might not want any part of a younger project who has stalled. But Puljujarvi is a decent example of the potential return if Washington does move on from Burakovsky. The Capitals are unlikely to get a player back free from questions. That decision, if made, has some serious risk for MacLellan and he knows it. 

Burakovsky has long struggled with confidence issues and to his credit has never shied from that. He works with a sports psychologist. He answered questions about trade rumors near the deadline honestly. He also played better the final six weeks of the season and won’t turn 25 until Feb. 9. Burakovsky seems like a good in-house fit to replace unrestricted free agent Brett Connolly’s 22 goals - or at least get into that neighborhood. He had 17 goals in his second NHL season in 2015-16.  

But the negatives are there, too: The seven goals, 10 assists (17 points) Burakovsky posted in the first 55 games this season. The six healthy scratches. That $3.25 million is hard to stomach if you don’t have confidence the necessary production will be there. Decisions like this give GMs heartburn. But the Capitals appear prepared to move on from a talented player who has left them exhilarated and exasperated.  

Brett Connolly

Connolly will not return to Washington, according to an NHL source. That’s not a huge surprise. The No. 6 pick in the 2010 draft had a career year with those 22 goals and did it with virtually no power-play time. That did not go unnoticed by potential suitors.  

Once RFA Jakub Vrana gets his new contract, as expected, the Capitals will have around $7 million to sign five more bottom-six forwards and a depth defenseman. Maybe less. NHL teams don’t actually know for sure what the salary cap for next year is yet. They should finally find out this weekend. 

But that’s too little, too late for Connolly, who admitted on April 26 that he was intrigued by the idea of a bigger role than Washington can give him and said he owed it to himself to listen if one is out there. At 27, why wouldn’t he think he can make a run at 25-to-30 goals if given more ice time and a spot on someone’s power play? That’s not going to happen here. 

Braden Holtby contract talks

Spoke with Holtby at the Capital Pride Parade on June 8 and he understandably didn’t want to get into any contract discussion. He would only say he hadn’t heard anything about talks between the Capitals and agent David Kaye starting. That’s not a big deal yet. Nothing could be signed until July anyway. They have all summer and beyond if Holtby is fine negotiating during the season. 

But we’re also talking about a Stanley Cup and Vezina Trophy-winning goalie entering a contract year. The Capitals are in a tough spot. Top prospect Ilya Samsonov is totally unproven at the NHL level. Pheonix Copley had a nice rookie season as the primary backup, but it’s a giant leap to reach Holtby’s level. 

But Nicklas Backstrom is also up for a new deal and other than new defenseman Radko Gudas’ $2.345 million hit, there is no money coming off the books next season. Can they afford to give Backstrom, a bargain at $6.7 million for almost a decade now, AND Holtby big extensions? 

Watch closely what Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky gets on the open market on July 1. Holtby will have a good argument for a similar deal and if that reaches eight figures per year then Washington is in trouble. Trading Holtby is a non-starter when the Capitals expect to contend again for a Stanley Cup and Samsonov, a first-round pick in 2015, remains an unknown at this level. Barring a trade of another big contract at some point, the cap space for both players just isn't there. That can change at any time, but Holtby could be in limbo for a while yet.  

Devante Smith-Pelly

The writing has been on the wall with this one. Smith-Pelly will not return next season, according to an NHL source. The unrestricted free agent was a Stanley Cup hero with seven goals in the 2018 postseason. But Smith-Pelly appeared in just 54 games (4 goals, 4 assists) before being waived and assigned to AHL Hershey. A tight salary-cap following the Hagelin trade had something to do with that. So did his conditioning early in the season. Tough situation. Smith-Pelly eventually returned to the NHL roster for the final three games of the first-round playoff series against Carolina and played on the fourth line. 

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