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Capitals make upgrades to fourth line on first day of NHL free agency

Capitals make upgrades to fourth line on first day of NHL free agency

One of the summer goals for Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan was to upgrade the fourth line. It took one day of free agency to accomplish that. 

At least Washington hopes so. It signed unrestricted free agents Garnet Hathaway (Calgary Flames) and Brendan Leipsic (Los Angeles Kings) on Monday afternoon. With Nic Dowd entrenched as the fourth-line center, Hathaway would be the right wing given the Capitals gave him a four-year, $6 million contract with a $1.5 million average annual value. They joined third-line right wing Richard Panik, who signed a four-year deal for $11 million and a $2.75 million cap hit. 

“The thing I like about Panik and Hathaway is that they both skate well,” MacLellan said. “Garnet had good north-south speed. Panik is a really good skater for his size. So, I don't think that we're sacrificing on the speed side to add heaviness. I think we got big players that can skate and play well.”

The other depth forwards on the roster competing for playing time are Travis Boyd, who is under contract at $800,000, and Chandler Stephenson, who was tendered a qualifying offer worth $715,000. One of those players could be in trouble.

Washington has to re-sign restricted free agent Jakub Vrana and would have $3.57 million left for a bridge deal once Djoos signs. But add in another forward for a 23-man roster and that math starts to get unlikely at under $3 million left for Vrana. 

But that decision is for another day. For now, adding to the fourth line was a priority. 

“I'm really excited, obviously. I know a lot about the team, obviously playing against them,” Hathaway said. “It's a difficult team to play against. It seemed like a good fit because we play a similar style. Obviously, it's a winning culture there too. It's something that I'm really excited to be a part of. I know that no one in that room wants that to change, so we want to win games and that's exciting and I can't wait to join them.”

Hathaway has had quite the journey to get here. He played four years of college hockey at Brown, but was never drafted. He played a full year in the AHL in 2014-15 before making his NHL debut with Calgary the next season in 14 games. He gradually increased that to 26 NHL games in 2016-17, 59 and then 76 last year when Hathaway scored a career-high 11 goals with eight assists (19 points). 

Hathaway is a good penalty killer. He can fight, with 13 in his career, though that’s obviously less necessary in the modern NHL. A hard two-way game with some scoring upside is the appeal here. The Capitals won’t be much fun to play against with Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Radko Gudas and Hathaway around. That’s a heavy team with enough speed to get by.  

“I think they built this team so well, I don't think there's a void that you can really point at,” Hathaway said. “I want to go and I want to complement the guys that are there right now. They have a lot of skill, they have a lot of scoring and they have guys that are tough and play a physical game. So, I want to continue on the growth I have in my career right now and I want to continue to be hard to play against. That's something I hope I can help with them.”

Meanwhile, Leipsic joins his sixth NHL club and he’s still just 25. Maybe it’s too soon to just hand him a spot so there could be competition there at left wing. Leipsic split last year between Vancouver and Los Angeles. The Canucks waived him in December. Once a third-round pick by Nashville in 2012, Leipsic has 13 goals in 126 NHL games, but five goals and 13 assists in just 45 games with the Kings. It’s an interesting flyer on a player in his age-25 season. 

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What is Ovechkin watching during coronavirus hiatus? Reveals 'Deal or No Deal' is go-to show

What is Ovechkin watching during coronavirus hiatus? Reveals 'Deal or No Deal' is go-to show

With the spread of the coronavirus, people have been encouraged to stay at home and practice social distancing. For many, that means watching a lot of TV shows and listening to a lot of music.

Thanks to the technology of the modern age, the choices of TV shows to watch and music to listen to are practically endless, but have you ever thought about what you would watch if you could choose only one show or one album of music?

Alex Ovechkin and other NHL players were posed that very question on Thursday in a teleconference. While the other players gave standard answers like "The Morning Show" and "Tiger King," Ovechkin's answers were a bit more...unexpected.

"My TV show is 'Deal or No Deal,'" he said. He had to pause before saying what his music album would be because the other players immediately began laughing at his answer. "And album, I'll probably take Eminem. Any album he have."

Surprised? You weren't the only one.

"I did not see that coming, Ovi," Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno said, laughing. "I did not see that coming."

Considering how proud Ovechkin is of his Russian heritage and the fact that he has a Russian wife, many probably assumed he would have picked a Russian TV show.

Ovechkin went on to explain, "I'm not a big TV guy as well. I'm just watching that show in the locker room with all the boys. But again, here in this situation, we watching a Russian TV show so it's kind of hard to pronounce the name, but I just picked the TV show what we always watch in the locker room."

So the next time you watch "Deal or No Deal" and are screaming at the contestant to just take the deal and not risk opening another case, know that Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps' locker room are right there with you.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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How to watch Capitals vs. Sabres NHL 20 simulation

How to watch Capitals vs. Sabres NHL 20 simulation

Monday night was supposed to be another night of Capitals action with a game against the Buffalo Sabres. Unfortunately due to the NHL’s hold on the season in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the show can not go on as originally planned. 

However, with some minor adjustments to the presentation, there is still a way to keep things going. 

Monday night at 7 p.m. ET the Capitals will be taking the ice to play the Sabres as planned, only this time it will be virtual ice on an NHL 20 simulation. 

In partnership with Monumental Sports Network, NBC Sports Washington will be airing all Wizards and Capitals games in simulated NBA 2K20 and NHL 2K20 games. The format of these games includes watching the simulated versions of Caps games based on the existing schedule with the bonus of commentary from NBCSW’s experts. 

To make things even more fun, in between the simulation and the re-air of the simulation, there is a chance to relive a classic Caps game. So don’t forget to stick around and re-watch Dowd and the Capitals dominate the Penguins from earlier this season. 

Here's everything you need to know to watch. 

When: Monday, March 30 at 7 p.m. ET

Where:

  • NBC Sports Washington (channel finder
  • Any of our 24/7 authenticated streaming platforms
  • Monumental Sports Network via its website www.monumentalsportsnetwork.com or via any of its available apps on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Xbox.

Broadcast schedule: 

7:00 PM: NHL 20 Simulation: Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres (P)
8:00 PM: NHL Classics: Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins (R) 
10:30 PM: NHL 20 Simulation: Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres (R)

Starting lineups: 

Capitals: TBD
Sabres: TBD

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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