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Free agent stock watch: Boston rattles the unflappable Justin Williams

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Free agent stock watch: Boston rattles the unflappable Justin Williams

The Boston Bruins made short work of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final. While the Bruins will be thinking about nothing but playing for the Stanley Cup the next few weeks, the Stanley Cup Final series will be the last time some of the team’s free agents will wear a Boston uniform. For Carolina’s free agents, Thursday may be the last time they lace up their skates in Raleigh.

Could any of those pending free agents help the Capitals? Can the Caps afford any of them?

With that in mind, here’s a look at where the free agent “stock” of each pending unrestricted free agent in the Eastern Conference Final stands now that the series is over.

NOTE: This list includes only UFAs.

Boston Bruins

Noel Acciari, F

Stock: Neutral

Acciari played in only two games in the conference final due to an undisclosed injury. He did not record a point in either game though he did log some decent ice time.

Marcus Johansson, F

Stock: Up

The former Cap has been a massive addition for Boston and was a major factor in Games 1 and 2 against Carolina, recording one goal and two assists. Johansson ranks seventh on the team this postseason with nine points and of those seven he logs the lowest average ice time so he is making his minutes count.

All the talk about Johansson being soft or not a playoff performer has gone right out the window this postseason.

Steven Kampfer, D

Stock: Neutral

Kampfer is Boston’s No. 7 on defense and he has played in only two games this entire postseason. He only got into the lineup for Game 1 because of Charlie McAvoy’s one-game suspension, but in that game, he scored his first career playoff goal and the first goal of the series.

Carolina Hurricanes

Micheal Ferland, F

Stock: Down

After a sweep, there are few players from Carolina that are going to walk away satisfied with how they played. Ferland suited up for Game 1 against Boston for the first time since leaving Game 3 in the first round against the Caps with an injury. He recorded an assist in Game 1 and a big hit in Game 2 and that was pretty much the extent of what he contributed in the conference final.

Ferland was held to only a  lone assist in the four-game sweep and for a player who contributed 40 points for the Hurricanes this season, he really needed to find a way to contribute more offensively.

Curtis McElhinney, G

Stock: Up

Can I interest you in a 2.01 GAA and .930 save percentage in the playoffs? McElhinney may have only appeared in five games this postseason, but the stats he managed are still pretty darn impressive.

McElhinney ended up in Carolina when the team claimed him off waivers from Toronto before the season. His total cap hit was $850,000. Sure, he will turn 36 this month, but I think it is safe to say he has done enough to earn at least a backup role on an NHL team and likely is not in danger of hitting waivers again prior to the 2019-20 season.

Greg McKegg, F

Stock: Up

Of all the Carolina players who played in at least 10 games in the playoffs, no one averaged less ice time than McKegg. He still finished the postseason with two goals. For a fourth line player with a $715,000 cap hit, he certainly provided as much offense as the Hurricanes could have hoped. His goal in Game 1 gave Carolina its only lead in any game for the entire series.

In an age where depth scoring is becoming increasingly important, McKegg looks like a solid free agent target for any team looking for a fourth-line player.

Petr Mrazek, G

Stock: Neutral

The playoffs ended on a sour note for Mrazek, but Carolina did not lose the series because of goaltending. He showed with his performance in the regular season and in the playoffs up to Game 1 what he can do. For a goalie on a one-year contract worth only $1.5 million, it is hard to see how his stock could have fallen after two bad games against a team that was clearly far superior than Carolina.

Justin Williams, F

Stock: Down

One of the stories of the series was how the Bruins, especially Brad Marchand, were able to rattle the normally unflappable Williams, Mr. Game 7 himself.  Williams’ frustration was especially evident in Game 3 when he took three minor penalties.

No one can deny that Williams played a major role in Carolina’s run to the conference final as the team captain and he showed this season that he can still be an effective top-six winger. He also will turn 38 on Oct. 4. He still has value, but he is battling his age and the shot he took his reputation this series certainly does not help his stock.

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In a sport in which silence is the norm, Braden Holtby continues to be a voice for change

In a sport in which silence is the norm, Braden Holtby continues to be a voice for change

The phrase "stick to sports" is one often uttered by angry fans who don't want politics to bleed into their past time, who want sports to remain an escape from every day life. No sport has taken those words to heart in recent years more so than hockey where players very rarely come out and discuss political or social topics. Braden Holtby, however, has been a notable exception.

With the country locked in political unrest after the senseless murder of George Floyd, Holtby tweeted out an impassioned statement on Wednesday with his thoughts.

"I don't think this time is a time to sugarcoat anything," Holtby said Friday in a video conference. "I think it's a time to look at ourselves in the mirror and really find how we can be better and how we can take responsibility for the past and learn from that to move forward."

Holtby has been an outspoken advocate for human rights, particularly those of the LGBTQ community, for several years. Many hockey players have been outspoken in the wake of the protests currently gripping the country representing a shocking shift from the norm of silence we typically see in hockey from such issues.

Holtby, however, has never been shy about giving his thoughts.

"I don’t know why it’s been kind of taboo to speak your mind or stand up for what you believe in," Holtby said. "Obviously, there’s always this divide from sports to social issues. You want to be educated, you want to make sure that you know what you’re talking about [and] you’re not just using your platform to try and be popular or something like that."

RELATED: HOLTBY, WILSON MAKE STRONG STATEMENTS IN SUPPORT OF BLACK LIVES MATTER

Quick reactions on social media are easy and often without substance. Holtby, however, who professed that he actually dislikes social media and does not like to use it all that much, stressed the need for everyone, including himself, to educate themselves on the important issues facing the country before and in addition to speaking out.

"It wasn't until I moved here that you really understand what racial injustice is in this country," Holtby said, who is originally from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. "In Canada, we have indigenous rights and racism that way. I grew up around that, but this is different so I needed to educate myself and still need to. I believe how my parents did the right thing in teaching us in our situation. I learned a lot from them and Brandi as well and now we're just trying to take our knowledge we've learned in a different culture and try to teach our kids that way."

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But not everyone is open to hearing Holtby's thoughts on the matter.

When you speak out on these types of issues, you are bound to get plenty of backlash. Holtby has gotten such reaction from many who have decided that because he is a professional hockey player, he is for some reason no longer entitled to have a voice. There are also those who do not want to hear the opinion of a Canadian on America despite the fact that Holtby has been living in America since 2009.

"I think we all have our professions," Holtby said. "Everyone does. I don't know if any of us have -- unless your job is to fight racial inequalities or any sort of social issues that way, we're all just trying to be humans. And we just happen to have a following based on our job where people see us and it's easier to see us. It's crazy to think that that's an argument. We play hockey on the ice. We live our lives just as humans off of the ice and try to do our part that way. The second part about the Canadian thing is I've lived here for over 10 years now, so we call this home. This is my kids' home. My kids are both American. I feel like I'm fortunate to have been in both countries and be a part of both countries. I've said this a long (time): Canada follows America in a lot of ways. If you go from Canada to America, you don't see a ton of difference. The northern part of the states are very similar to Canada, and I believe when you try to make changes in one [it affects the other]."

But when the issues are important enough, it's easy to tune out the naysayers.

"I'm just trying to learn how I can do my part and my family's part to help people out," Holtby said. "I'm really hoping and I really believe that this is going to change the world in a lot of ways."

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Watch Alex Ovechkin’s son Sergei work on his slap shot

Watch Alex Ovechkin’s son Sergei work on his slap shot

The future looks bright for the Capitals with Alex Ovechkin’s son Sergei as an up-and-coming star.

Ovechkin’s wife Nastya captured an adorable moment on her Instagram story Thursday afternoon when Sergei practiced his shot and found the back of his miniature net on six consecutive attempts – just like his father would.


Nastya praised her 1-year-old, saying “Bravo!” after every goal scored, before he celebrated in classic Ovechkin fashion.

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While Ovi's eldest son has been occupied with his new role as a big brother as of late, he makes sure to leave plenty time to work on his slap shot and practice his celly, too, of course.

It looks like the young star is already on track to catch his father at 700 and make his debut in the 2038 NHL season.

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