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What Capitals players have been up to during COVID-19 hiatus from play

What Capitals players have been up to during COVID-19 hiatus from play

Tuesday's outline for the league’s return to play means it is time for the players to start planning a return to the Washington area for the eventual resumption of the season. But getting all the players back to Washington is going to take some time given how they are all over the globe. Here’s a look at how a number of Caps’ players have been spending the pause in the season. 

Nicklas Backstrom became a father of three with the birth of his daughter, Alizee in April.

Travis Boyd may have gotten the best present ever as his long-time girlfriend, Kelsey DeGonda, hired artist Taylor Kamp Olson to paint Boyd hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Brenden Dillon initially spent the first few weeks of the pause in a hotel in Arlington, but eventually returned to his home in San Jose. It was there he apparently discovered Tik Tok.

Braden Holtby and his family have stayed in Virginia throughout the pause. He has kept himself busy doing things like saving a kitten on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

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Lars Eller donated a “Health Cleanse Portal” to the Central Union Mission homeless shelter near Union Station. He detailed why this was important to him in an episode of the Capitals Talk Podcast.

Nick Jensen became a father right after the season paused as he and his wife welcomed their first child, Lorenzo, on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Enzos ready in case the season starts back up 😉

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Ilya Kovalchuk has been finding some pretty unique ways to get a workout in.

T.J. Oshie and his family have been among the bigger stars of the NHL’s pause. First, Oshie became a father of three with the birth of his son, Campbell. His daughters, Lyla and Leni, gave him a surprise makeover and their McLean home was featured in Architectural Digest.

Alex Ovechkin remained in the area initially working out with his trainer who came into town just before the season was paused. Ovechkin took on Wayne Gretzky on NHL 20 for charity where both agreed to an eventual tie. He then flew his family to Miami where he continues to work preparing for the return to the season.

Jonas Siegenthaler returned to his native Switzerland. From there, he and Jakub Vrana, who had returned to the Czech Republic, battled in a cook-off on Twitter.

Tom Wilson went back to his home in Toronto. His dog Halle has been the star of the season’s paws...er...pause.

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I guess I’ll just grow into it 🤷🏼‍♀️

A post shared by Halle (@thehallepup) on

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Alex Ovechkin selling ‘We Will Skate Again’ t-shirts and masks to help local community

Alex Ovechkin selling ‘We Will Skate Again’ t-shirts and masks to help local community

Alex Ovechkin will be selling custom "We Will Skate Again" t-shirts, face masks and neck gaiters with all proceeds going toward foundations in the DMV community, the Capitals announced in a press release Thursday.

The products, which can be purchased at the Ovechkin's online store, feature his signature logo. The shirts also have the phrase "We Will Skate Again" written across the front. Here's a look at some of the designs from the press release:

Money raised from t-shirt sales will be donated to the Tucker Road Ducks and The Tucker Road Parent Hockey Organization. The youth hockey team from Prince George’s County, Md., tragically lost their ice rink in 2017 due to a fire. The organization is working to rebuild it, while also striving to make hockey available for kids of any economic background. 

RELATED: OSHIE LAUNCHES AUCTION TO BENEFIT COVID-19 CRITICAL NEEDS FUND

Proceeds from the masks and neck gaiters will go to the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation's “Feeding the Frontlines” fund, which was created as a way to help those in the community who are dealing with the negative impact of COVID-19.

Ovechkin and the rest of the Capitals are gearing up for the beginning of training camp on July 13 as the NHL gets closer to a return.

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How a flat cap could affect the Capitals' approach to the Seattle expansion draft

How a flat cap could affect the Capitals' approach to the Seattle expansion draft

The NHL salary cap is going to remain at $81.5 million for next two years at least. That is going to make life difficult for Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. With the team already tight against the cap ceiling, he won't even get the annual relief of the cap rising. One way in which the team could find a modicum of relief, however, is through the 2021 expansion draft. Every team in the NHL will lose a player to Seattle which means taking a contract off the books. Given the team's cap situation, there is one player specifically to keep in mind when it comes to the expansion draft: T.J. Oshie.

For the expansion, each team will be able to protect eight skaters and a goalie or seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. It seems safe to assume Washington will choose the latter. Here are the forwards that will still be under contract after the 2020-21 season: Nicklas Backstrom, Nic Dowd, Lars Eller, Carl Hagelin, Garnet Hathaway, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Oshie, Richard Panik and Tom Wilson. The contracts for both Alex Ovechkin and Jakub Vrana expire at the end of the 2020-21 season, but both will almost certainly be re-signed so we can add them to the list.

Of the forwards the team would want to protect, the most obvious choices are Backstrom, Eller, Kuznetsov, Ovechkin, Vrana and Wilson. Most would assume that the seventh spot should go to Oshie, but should it?

As I wrote yesterday, one of the issues for Washington is that the team has several long-term deals on the books. For a team with little room under the cap, MacLellan had to offer longer-term deals instead of big money ones to remain competitive in the gree agent market. The risk is that it ties you to a player for longer, but even if a player is not living up to his contract, the percentage of his cap hit would decrease every year with a steadily rising salary cap. Well, now the cap is no longer rising and that means players on long deals, like Oshie, are not getting better as the players age.

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Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Oshie. First, he will be 34 at the time of the expansion draft and will only be halfway through an eight-year contract that carries a cap hit of $5.75 million. Obviously, the chances that Oshie would be living up to that cap hit when he was 37 or 38 were low when Oshie first signed the deal, but that's OK because with a steadily rising cap, the percentage would probably be low enough at that point that it would not be a significant issue. But now the salary cap is flat which means MacLellan is going to have to take a hard look at all of the team's long-term deals and project out what the team can expect from those players towards the end of their contracts.

Oshie is having a great season with 26 goals and 23 assists. He was on pace for 58 points which would have been his best in Washington. He is a leader on the team and a real boost to the locker room. No one could question his value to Washington now, but the question is what will his value be in the second half of his contract?

RELATED: WHY A FLAT SALARY CAP IS BAD NEWS FOR THE CAPS

Granted, Seattle knows all of this, but there are three reasons why Oshie would still be an attractive acquisition. First, Oshie's cap hit is essentially a non-factor for a team starting from scratch. The Caps have very little room to work with under the cap while Seattle has all of the room to work with. A cap hit of $5.75 million would hardly be a deterrent. Second, Oshie is actually from Washington state. While most fans remember Oshie taking the Cup to his hometown of Warroad, Minn., Oshie was born in Washington and lived there until moving to Minnesota in 2002. Third, when building a team, you need players like Oshie who are personable and charismatic. He is the life of the locker room and a natural leader. He would be Washington's native son, returning to lead the team in its inaugural season.

To me, it is not a stretch to think that if Oshie is indeed selected, he would be in the running to be Seattle's first captain. His departure would also provide some cap relief to a Washington team in need of the extra room. Losing Oshie would mean losing that spark in the locker room, however, and MacLellan will have to decide whether that is a fair trade-off.

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