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Looking back at the Capitals’ 2011 NHL Draft: A lost year

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USA TODAY Sports

Looking back at the Capitals’ 2011 NHL Draft: A lost year

The NHL Draft takes place on June 21 and 22. The Capitals hold the 25th overall pick and will be looking for future stars among all the hopeful prospects.

But just how successful has Washington been in finding those stars? How much value have the Caps found through the draft?

NBC Sports Washington will be looking at how Washington has drafted over the last 10 years. Today’s draft: 2011

26th overall pick (first round): Traded to the Chicago Blackhawks

No first-round pick for Washington in this draft as the Caps traded their pick away for Troy Brouwer. There was no other part to that deal, Washington got Brouwer for a first-round pick, straight up. That seems…steep.

Brouwer played 293 games for Washington with 83 goals and 69 assists. He was certainly a productive player, but not the kind of game-changer you would hope when giving up a first-round pick. His time with the Caps ended in 2015 when he was part of a package the team sent to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for T.J. Oshie.

Chicago used the pick to select forward Phillip Danault. Danault only played 32 games for the Blackhawks and was traded to the Montreal Canadiens along with a second-round pick for Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann. Danault has carved out a role for himself in Montreal and set a career-high with 53 points last season.

57th overall pick (second round): Traded to the Carolina Hurricanes

Ah, the infamous Joe Corvo trade. Not the Caps’ best moment.

Let’s see if you can follow this one. Washington traded this draft pick plus Oskar Osala and Brian Pothier to the Hurricanes for Corvo at the 2010 trade deadline. Carolina flipped the pick and a sixth-rounder to the New York Rangers for Bobby Sanguinetti in June 2010. A year later, New York sent the pick with another second-round pick and Roman Horak to the Calgary Flames for Tim Erixon and a fifth-round pick. Calgary finally decided to keep the pick and took defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon.

Wotherspoon only played in 30 NHL games. Though only 26, he spent both of the last two seasons in the AHL and it looks like a long minor-league career may be the ceiling at this point.

87th overall pick (third round): Traded to the Florida Panthers

Once again, the Caps traded away their pick. This time, Washington sent the pick to the Florida Panthers, along with Jake Hauswirth, for defenseman Dennis Wideman.

Wideman was decent for the Caps and even made the All-Star Game in 2012. He was eventually traded to the Calgary Flames for Jordan Henry and a fifth-round pick. That pick was packaged and sent to the Winnipeg Jets in an exchange of draft picks at the 2013 draft.

117th overall pick (fourth round): Steffen Soberg G

Washington actually kept this pick and finally made its first draft selection in the fourth round…and it was not a great one. Soberg never made it out of Norway and continues to play in his native country.

147th overall pick (fifth round): Patrick Koudys D

After playing four years at Penn State, Koudys played one year in the ECHL and one year in France.

177th overall pick (sixth round): Travis Boyd F

Washington would have walked away from this draft empty-handed if not for finding value in the sixth round in Boyd. Finding an NHL player that late in the draft is hard to do so this was a solid pick-up.

Boyd has played in 61 NHL games with five goals and 16 assists. He will look to take on a more significant role with the Caps next season.

207th overall pick (seventh round): Garrett Haar D

Haar’s professional career consists of four seasons in the ECHL. He did not make it past that level.

Takeaways

This draft was a total bust for the Caps. That was partly by design as the team traded away its top three picks in their pursuit of the Cup, but when you consider the Caps only got Troy Brouwer, Joe Corvo and Dennis Wideman in return…wow this year was a real whiff.

The only saving grace is finding Boyd in the sixth round, but he alone is not enough to save this draft. If you want to lump in the fact that Brouwer helped the team acquire Oshie, sure, you could say that, but we are really stretching at that point to find the positives.

When you look at the players in this draft, there was definite value to be found pretty much in every round. The Caps got Boyd and that’s about it.

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Capital One Arena has a new bag policy. Here's what you need to know

Capital One Arena has a new bag policy. Here's what you need to know

Capital One Arena announced Friday they have initiated a new bag policy for the upcoming Capitals and Georgetown basketball season.

The biggest change includes a firm no backpacks policy. No matter the size, any kind of backpack will not be allowed in the arena, and luggage, roller bags, hard-sided bags/briefcases and bags larger than 14" long, 14" tall, and 6" wide are still prohibited.

Diaper bags and medical bags will be allowed into the arena but will need to be searched first.

Additionally, the arena will now have a no bags and express line at the F Street entrance for guests who are not carrying bags or are carrying a clutch or purse smaller than 4.5"x 6.5".

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Brian MacLellan wants to re-sign both Holtby and Backstrom, but is that realistic?

Brian MacLellan wants to re-sign both Holtby and Backstrom, but is that realistic?

As the Capitals prepare for the upcoming season, talk of next season is already starting to take over due to the uncertainty surrounding Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom’s future. Both players are in need of new contracts and, not surprisingly, general manager Brian MacLellan would like to keep both.

“We’re going to communicate with both players,” MacLellan said at media day. “Both guys have been a big part of our organization, big part of our success. We’d love to keep both. We’re going to play it out until the end here.”

But is it realistic to keep both players? The unfortunate reality is that it’s not.

First, we have to project how much Holtby and Backstrom could sign for.

Holtby has a very close comparable with Sergei Bobrovsky who just signed a seven-year, $70 million contract. Holtby and Bobrovsky’s regular season stats are almost identical while Holtby has enjoyed much more playoff success. That means the Caps would be looking at a cap hit somewhere in the $10 million range.

For Backstrom, a player of his caliber will be able to command a sizable contract from around the league even at 32 which he will be when he hits free agency. A 34-year-old Joe Pavelski just got a contract from the Dallas Stars with a $7 million cap hit. I view Backstrom’s range to be about $7 to 8.5 million, but $7 million at an absolute minimum.

Basically, to re-sign Holtby and Backstrom will cost the team about $17 million in cap space per year at a minimum.

But wait, those guys want to stay in Washington, right? So they definitely will be willing to take less!

Don’t count on it.

“There’s always that area where you can work with, but at the same time you have a responsibility to the other players in the league too,” Holtby said at media day when asked about taking less money to stay with the Caps.

As for Backstrom, he has played the last 10 years with a cap hit of $6.7 million which is an absolute steal. Why would he take less now when he has already been taking less for a decade?

Let’s ignore the discussion of whether it is worth committing that much money to two players who are over 30 on an aging roster. The question is if the Caps have room under the cap for $17 million?

Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, Tom Wilson, Lars Eller, Jakub Vrana, Carl Hagelin, Richard Panik, Garnet Hathaway, Nic Dowd, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Michal Kempny, Nick Jensen and Pheonix Copley are all under contract for the 2020-21 season. That’s just over $62 million in cap space committed to 10 forwards, four defensemen and one goalie. Add in Backstrom and Holtby and their potential $17 million hit and you have a cap hit of over $79 million for 11 forwards, four defensemen and two goalies. The team will still need to sign two more forwards and three more defensemen.

We do not know what the cap ceiling will be for next season, but it is not expected to climb significantly. Let’s say it goes up to $83 million. That means the Caps will have less than $4 million to sign another five players. The minimum NHL salary for next season will be $700,000. If the Caps add five players at the league minimum, they can just barely fit under the ceiling, but that obviously is not a realistic scenario for how to build a competitive roster. Anything above the league minimum the team will not be able to afford and there are only two players in the entire organization, including prospects, who will carry a cap hit of $700,000 in the 2020-21 season.

Now that is just a projection, we ultimately do not know if the salary cap could go up more, but this projection also does not take into account any of the team’s RFAs including Jonas Siegenthaler who by that point will be due a significant raise.

The bottom line is that there is no way for the Caps to afford both Holtby and Backstrom without a significant trade to free up salary. Even then, whatever extra cap room the team gains from such a trade, much of it will go to RFAs, prospects and other UFAs the team may pursue.

An extension for Holtby and Backstrom handcuffs the entire offseason and would not allow Washington to do pretty much anything else. Whatever other needs the team may have, MacLellan would not be able to afford to address.

That’s not a recipe for success.

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