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Pending UFA Riley Barber does not see himself re-signing with Washington

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Pending UFA Riley Barber does not see himself re-signing with Washington

HERSHEY, Pa. – As a pending unrestricted free agent, Hershey Bears forward and Capitals prospect Riley Barber will soon be in need of a new contract. That contract, however, will likely be with a new organization as Barber is prepared to move on from the Caps.

“I've been here for a long time and kind of know what Washington feels about me,” Barber told NBC Sports Washington, “So it'll be nice to see what other teams feel about me especially with the year I had and see how it shakes out in July.”

Barber, 25, is in the midst of the best professional season of his career. His 31 goals with Hershey are a career-high and led the team. He finished the season with 60 points, also a career-high, and has added another three goals and two assists in seven playoff games.

With the Caps being up against the salary cap this offseason, the team may lose some of its forward depth in the bottom six. Carl Hagelin, Brett Connolly, Andre Burakovsky and Devante Smith-Pelly are all free agents this summer and the team may lose any or all of them depending on how the offseason plays out. Washington is going to need cheap forward depth to fill out its lineup which could give a young, productive player like Barber a chance to compete for a spot.

Barber, however, when looking at his future sounds like a player who has already mentally moved on from the organization.

“I've spent a while here,” he said. “I know how [the Capitals organization feels] about me. Didn't get a lot of opportunity. I don't think I'd see myself coming back, but I never know.”

Barber was a sixth-round draft pick of the Caps in 2012. He made the jump to the pros in 2015, but has been called up sparingly and has only played in three NHL games.

As a UFA, Barber will be free to sign with any team on July 1. The Caps have the chance to negotiate with him prior to that, but otherwise they will have to get in line with the other 30 NHL organizations and bid for his services.

But, given his age, Barber is not interested in just signing on to stay in the AHL. He is ready to make a push for the NHL and is confident he can produce.

“I like where my game's at right now,” he said. “I just think that if I get the opportunity [at] the next level, I'll be able to produce.”

Should Barber move on, as it certainly sounds like he intends to do, that will be one less option for general manager Brian MacLellan to fill out his bottom-six for next season.




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4 things to know for Capitals-Lightning: A battle of top offenses

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4 things to know for Capitals-Lightning: A battle of top offenses

Coming off a big win on Wednesday against the Boston Bruins, the Capitals (23-5-5) will look to stay in the win column as they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning (16-11-3). Tune in to NBC Sports Washington for pregame coverage with Caps FaceOff Live kicking things off at 6 p.m. followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. bringing you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop. Be sure to stick with NBC Sports Washington after the game for all your postgame coverage with Caps Postgame Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here’s what you need to know for Saturday’s game.

Samsonov gets the start

When you are coming off a big win over the second-best team in the NHL, it's not a surprise to see the Caps stick with the same lines at Saturday's morning skate.

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler - Radko Gudas

The one surprise is that Ilya Samsonov will start for Washington against a very potent Tampa Bay offense.

One thing to note, since it is the dad's trip it is traditional for every player to get into the lineup for one of the two games. It was expected that Samsonov would start Monday in Columbus, but it looks like that will now go to Braden Holtby. You should also expect to see Travis Boyd on Monday as well.

When last we met

The Caps and Lightning last met on Nov. 29 in a thrilling game that saw Washington rally from a 3-1 deficit with two goals in the third period before winning in overtime. Ovechkin tied the game with a shot from the office on the power play and Dmitry Orlov would go on to record the overtime winner.

As a refresher, you can check out the recap from this game here.

These are two teams that know how to score

Tampa Bay is not obliterating the NHL like it was last year and people are scratching their heads wondering how a team this talented isn’t even currently sitting in a wildcard spot in the standings. One aspect of their game you can’t blame for their struggles this season is the offense as the Lightning rank second in the NHL with 3.57 goals per game. Washington sits just behind them at No. 3 with 3.55.

This year, Tampa Bay’s offense is much more spread out. Nikita Kucherov leads the team with 33 points, tied for 15th in the NHL. That’s a far cry from the 128 points he put up lace season. Behind him there are six Lightning players with over 20 points. Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Brayden Point should come as no surprise. The other two, however, are Alex Killorn and Kevin Shattenkirk.

The power play has also been hot for both teams. Tampa Bay is second in the NHL with a 29.6 power play percentage while the Caps are fifth at 24.0.

The Caps hold the advantage on defense

Braden Holtby and Andrei Vasilevskiy’s numbers are remarkably similar this season. Holtby has a .911 save percentage and 2.80 GAA while Vasilevskiy has managed a .910 save percentage and 2.78 GAA.

That’s pretty close until you move on to their records this season. Holtby boasts a 16-3-4 record in 24 starts this season. His 16 wins leads the NHL. Vasilevskiy, meanwhile, is 3-8-1 and that says a lot about how much better Washington is playing defensively.

The Caps defense is currently allowing 2.82 goals per game as compared to Tampa Bay’s 3.17. Likewise while there is not much that separates these two teams on the power play, Washington has the superior penalty kill. With Carl Hagelin back in the lineup, the Caps have climbed all the way to third in the NHL at 85.3-percent. The Lightning’s penalty kill is only at 79.8 percent.


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Capitals service dog Captain wins Sports Dog of the Year

Capitals service dog Captain wins Sports Dog of the Year

As if any other candidate would even come close, Captain was named Sports Dog of the Year on Friday afternoon.

The four-legged phenom has been everywhere this fall, making his presence felt all over the DMV, and his popularity has extended nationwide.

Captain doesn't take days off and is always ready to have some fun.

He was there to maintain the peace during the biggest shopping day of the year and he made sure your Cyber Monday gifts arrived on time. 

He inspires greatness and has been a driving force behind the Mystics' WNBA Title as well as the Nationals' World Series victory.

He knows when its time to put in the work as well. He's always on time for meetings, and he has never missed a practice.

He's preparing to assist a Veteran or First Responder one day, and he's already making progress.

And he's always ready to celebrate.