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What Tyler Lewington gives the Caps that no one else can

What Tyler Lewington gives the Caps that no one else can

It is not hard to project who the Capitals’ seven defensemen for next season will be...if money were not an issue.

John Carlson, Michal Kempny, Nick Jensen, Dmitry Orlov, Radko Gudas, Jonas Siegenthaler and Christian Djoos are all signed for next season. In addition to those seven, prospects Alex Alexeyev and Martin Fehervary will make the jump to the AHL and former first-round draft pick Lucas Johansen is also looking for his first taste of NHL hockey after two years with the Hershey Bears.

In terms of defenseman, there is no shortage of options for the Caps. But one defenseman who may not be getting talked about enough for his chances of making the NHL roster this year is Tyler Lewington.

Lewington, 24, was a seventh-round draft pick by the Caps in 2013. He has two NHL games to his name, both of which came last season. He endeared himself to Washington fans with his second game which came on Dec. 29, 2018. Not only did Lewington record his first NHL point in that game, he incredibly managed to pull off a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist and a fight against the Ottawa Senators.

Obviously, it would be foolish to expect a player to replicate that kind of performance every night. So what type of player is Lewington, really?

Lewington is a hard-nosed, defensive defenseman who never hesitates to drop his gloves. He recorded seven fights in the AHL last season in addition to his fight with the Caps. Despite recording a goal and an assist in just his second NHL game, offense is not Lewington’s strong suit and he is a much more defensive player.

Lewington is a high-end AHL defenseman, but to me he projects to be a No. 7 in the NHL. He is not an everyday player and, in terms of talent, would not challenge any of the Caps’ seven defensemen for a roster spot.

So why is he someone worth remembering heading into training camp?

Because there is one big factor Lewington has going for him, more so than any player in the organization: He’s cheap.

You don’t need an expert to tell you Lewington is cheap and why that would be valuable to Washington, but it actually goes deeper than that.

With an NHL cap hit of only $675,000, that is lower than any player under contract with the Caps. In fact, there is only one player in the entire NHL whose contract carries a lower cap hit than Lewington's.

The Capitals are more than $1.3 million over the salary cap and they are going to have to find some way to get under the cap by Oct. 1 and to bank space throughout the season.

In terms of overall talent, the Caps have better options than Lewington. As the season approaches, there could even be unexpected players placed on waivers or maybe even another late buyout like we saw recently with Kevin Shattenkirk. Regardless of circumstances, however, there is no way to find an upgrade to Lewington in terms of price.

Not only is Lewington cheaper than anyone in the organization, there is no possible way for the team to bring in a cheaper defenseman. Lewington’s $675,000 is actually lower than the league-minimum salary for the 2019-20 season of $700,000. The team could sign a 95-year old man with no NHL experience who has never watched the sport of hockey before in his life and his cap hit would still be higher than Lewington’s.

Playing with a salary cap is not just about getting under the cap, it is about banking space throughout the season in order to gain more roster flexibility. Having Lewington on the roster would allow the team to bank more space than any other possible option.

If a defenseman gets injured and the Caps need someone to plug into the lineup for an extended amount of time, Lewington is not the answer. But do not dismiss his chances of making the roster out of camp or getting called up multiple times throughout the season. If the defense remains relatively healthy, having Lewington as the No. 7 makes a lot of cents. See what I did there?

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Braden Holtby sets franchise record for shutouts in blowout simulation win over Panthers

Braden Holtby sets franchise record for shutouts in blowout simulation win over Panthers

The Capitals got plenty of offense in the latest NHL 20 simulation, but they didn't need it as Braden Holtby turned aside 36 shots to become the team's all-time shutout leader in a  5-0 blowout of the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

Result: Caps 5, Panthers 0

1st period

1-0 Caps goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson

2nd period

2-0 Caps goal: Nicklas Backstrom from Nick Jensen and T.J. Oshie

3-0 Caps goal (power play): Jakub Vrana from T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom

https://twitter.com/NBCSCapitals/status/1246580242438815745?s=20               

3rd period

4-0 Caps goal: Brenden Dillon from Evgeny Kuznetsov

5-0 Caps goal: Tom Wilson from Alex Ovechkin and Brenden Dillon

How the Caps won

1. Fast start

What kind of a game was this going to be? We found in just 61 seconds as Kuznetsov wasted no time to get the Caps the lead. Washington would lead the rest of the way.

Carlson charged the blue line to keep a loose puck from getting out of the zone. He passed it up to Ovechkin who made a quick backhand pass to Kuznetsov in the slot to score the goal.

2. Possession

Florida somehow recorded 36 shots on goal, but did they ever really have possession of the puck in this game? It didn't feel like it. The Panthers had trouble defending against the Caps' offense as they struggled to keep the puck out of the defensive zone and struggled to get it out once it got there.

Florida also had no answer for Washington's physicality. The Caps threw their bodies around all game long to separate the Panthers from the puck and Florida just took it.

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3. A long-awaited shutout

It's been a long time coming. Holtby had not recorded a shutout all season long and finally got one in the final game of the regular season with 36 saves. The shutout is the 36th of Holtby's career, which gives Holtby the most in franchise history, moving him one ahead of Olie Kolzig. Or it would have of course if it was not a simulation.

In the few opportunities in which Florida did manage to keep the puck long enough to set up its offense, Holtby was there and gave the Panthers no daylight with which to shoot on. 

Next game

This was the final game of the regular season. Check back with NBC Sports Washington for a simulated playoff.

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Washington Capitals Tom Wilson sends Make-A-Wish kids heartfelt message and gifts

Washington Capitals Tom Wilson sends Make-A-Wish kids heartfelt message and gifts

Washington Capitals right-winger, Tom Wilson is utilizing his newfound free time by giving back to the children of Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic.

Saturday, Wilson was featured on the charity's Instagram page delivering an uplifting message to the kids that are going through unforeseen changes due to quarantine. 

"I understand a lot of your wishes are on hold right now due to this very weird time in the world," Wilson said. "I just want to let you know I'm thinking of you."

"You guys are so strong, keep fighting and I'm looking forward to seeing you around."

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It’s FR🏒DAY! And what better way to start your weekend than hearing from our @capitals friend, @tomwilson! Just like all of us, Tom is thinking of our local wish kids whose wishes are currently indefinitely on hold and knows how strong and awesome each of you are. 💪 He's cheering on every one of our wish kids during this challenging time and can’t wait to see your wishes come true. Tom also went above and beyond and bought activities for us to send all our kids whose #WishesAreWaiting to pass the time at home or in hospital. Thanks for sharing your Message of Hope Tom, and for being a such a great champion for wishes and a winner on and off the ice! 💫💙🏆 @capitalspr

A post shared by Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic (@wishmidatlantic) on

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Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic detailed that "Tom also went above and beyond and brought activities for us to send all our kids whose #WishesAreWaiting to pass time at home or in the hospital."

A class act gesture from an even classier man. 

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