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Free Agency Bracket: Mats Zuccarello vs. Micheal Ferland

Free Agency Bracket: Mats Zuccarello vs. Micheal Ferland

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s matchup:

Region: Third line forward

Mats Zuccarello vs. Micheal Ferland

2018-19 stats

Mats Zuccarello (31 years old): 48 games played with the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars, 12 goals, 28 assists, 40 points, 19:51 TOI

Playoffs: 13 games played with the Dallas Stars, 4 goals, 7 assists, 11 points, 17:07 TOI

Micheal Ferland (27 years old): 71 games played with the Carolina Hurricanes, 17 goals, 23 assists, 40 points, 14:06 TOI

Playoffs: 7 games played with the Carolina Hurricanes, no goals, 1 assist, 1 point, 10:16 TOI

Hockey-Graphs contract projections

Mats Zuccarello: 4 years, $6,203,898 cap hit

Micheal Ferland: 4 years, $4,181,982 cap hit

The case for Mats Zuccarello

If you want to move T.J. Oshie down to the third line, you will need a top-six forward to do that and Mats Zuccarello fits the mold. Jakub Vrana could move to the right on the second line to fit Zuccarello on the left giving you a Zuccarello, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Vrana second line with Lars Eller and Oshie teamed up on the third. That is an incredibly formidable lineup.

Zuccarello may have been limited to just 48 games last season, but he played in no fewer than 77 games in each of the five seasons prior so durability is not an issue. Even being limited last season, he still managed to put up 40 points. Ferland’s career-high is 41 and he produced 40 points last season in 71 games. Those 40 points are about the most Washington can expect from Ferland, but Zuccarello should be expected to hit 50-60 points.

And while Zuccarello was a major factor for the Stars in the playoffs, Ferland completely disappeared. An injury limited him to seven games for Carolina, and he managed just one point in those seven games.

The ultimate case against Ferland is the fact that his first name is Micheal – but he spells it "ea" instead of "ae" – making him the sworn enemy of every hockey writer.

The case for Micheal Ferland

How’s the view from fantasy land? The deciding factor in this comparison is money. If the Caps had unlimited money and could choose only one between Zuccarello and Ferland, you choose Zuccarello. The problem is that the Caps don’t have unlimited money and there is no way they could make Zuccarello fit under the cap without moving a significant amount of salary, more than just Matt Niskanen.

Moving Niskanen could potentially give Washington room to sign a $4-4.5 million player, maybe. See that contract projection above? See how it starts with a “6” for Zucccarello? Case closed. There is no way to make that work.

Zuccarello was a good fit in Dallas and that is where he is most likely to end up.

Ferland is much more affordable and also fills the Caps’ need for a third-line player. He scored 40 points last year with limited minutes and ranked fourth on the Hurricanes in points despite being 16th on the team in time-on-ice per game. Being able to be productive without getting top-six minutes is a skill and Ferland has it.

In addition to his production, Ferland also plays a physical game which would fit in well with Washington as the Caps like to play a heavier game.

Ferland turned 27 in April and is entering his prime. A productive player in his prime that will be $2 to $2.5 million cheaper than the 31-year-old Zuccarello sounds like a good fit for Washington.

Who’s your pick? Vote here:

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Capitals vs. Ducks Game 23: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Capitals vs. Ducks Game 23: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

It is Week 10 of the hockey season.

The Capitals are sitting at 15-2, having just added another win after their last game against the Boston Bruins, a dramatic 3-2 shootout victory. 

The Capitals will be hosting the Anaheim Ducks at the Capital One Arena Monday night. Currently, the Ducks have a 10-9 record, just beating the St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Saturday. 

Now, here is all the information you need to know in order to watch Monday night’s game.

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS HOW TO WATCH:

What: Washington Capitals vs. Anaheim Ducks

Where: Capital One Arena

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Ducks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Ducks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, SiriusXM Channel 91, Streaming 920

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: NHL: Anaheim Ducks @ Capitals

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals:

C Nick Dowd, upper body, out

LW Carl Hagelin, upper body, out

Ducks:

D Hampus Lindholm, undisclosed, injury reserve

RW Ondrej Kase, jaw injury, day-to-day 

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Capitals:

John Carlson, D: John Carlson's eight goals make him the team's highest-scoring defender, and his 24 assists lead the Capitals.

Alex Ovechkin, LW: Ovechkin leads the team with 14 goals this season. Ovechkin also is in fourth on the team with 10 assists.

Ducks: 

Jakob Silfverberg, LW: Team-leader in goals made this season racking up nine goals. Tied for the most assists, with eight. 

Rickard Rakell, C: Contributed 14 points, the second-most on the Ducks, and shares the tie with eight assists. 

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Caps finally solve Halak for improbable shootout win

Caps finally solve Halak for improbable shootout win

The Capitals needed a goal from T.J. Oshie with less than a minute remaining to force overtime on Saturday where they would go on to defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a shootout.

It looked like Jaroslav Halak would once again pull off a miraculous win as he turned aside 42 shots, but the Caps kept up the pressure late to tie the game and get back in the win column.

Saturday's win is now Washington's 15th in the last 16 contests against the Bruins.

Here is how the Caps won.

Boyd makes the most of his opportunity

On Friday, Travis Boyd was a Hershey Bear. With Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin both injured but without enough money under the cap for Boyd, the Caps recalled Tyler Lewington on Friday and skated seven defensemen and only 11 forwards against the Montreal Canadiens. On Saturday, the team sent Lewington and Ilya Samsonov to Hershey and recalled Vitek Vanecek and Boyd. The extra cap space the team gained from Vanecek taking Samsonov's spot allowed them to recall Boyd and skate four full forward lines. The impact of Boyd's addition was felt in the first period when Boyd scored a deflection to beat Halak and get the Caps on the board.

In seven games with the Caps this season, Boyd has one goal and four assists.

Caps get their power play setup on 6-on-5

For much of the night, the Caps just could not figure out Halak. They poured on the shots, but he was there each time and looked like he would be able to lead his team to the narrow victory. Late in regulation, the Caps pulled Braden Holtby for the extra attacker and the Caps gave Boston a power play look.

Washington had its top power play unit on the ice plus Tom Wilson. The goal looked like one right out of the power play's playbook with Evgeny Kuznetsov behind the goal line feeding Oshie in the slot. Oshie is great at getting those quick shots away from in close and he finally beat Halak with 59 seconds remaining.

Oshie was instrumental in setting up the goal as well as he blocked a clearing attempt from Zdeno Chara with his glove to keep the puck in the offensive zone just seconds before Kuznetsov set him up for the goal.

Backstrom and Vrana deliver in the shootout

Washington scored only twice on the shootout, but that would be all they needed.

The normally automatic Oshie was stopped on his shootout attempt putting Washington behind early on.I n a score-or-go-home situation for Nicklas Backstrom, he managed to sneak a shot in between the glove and the pad of Halak to force extra rounds of the shootout. Then Jakub Vrana pulled off one of the nices shootout goals you will ever see.

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