Capitals

Dupree, Griner help Mercury rout Mystics 73-53

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Dupree, Griner help Mercury rout Mystics 73-53

PHOENIX (AP) -- Candice Dupree scored 18 points and Brittney Griner had 16 to help the Phoenix Mercury beat the Washington Mystics 73-53 on Wednesday.

Griner's reverse layup capped Phoenix's 12-3 run at the start of the third quarter that made it 48-31 lead. Washington went 4-plus minutes without a field goal and Phoenix extended its lead to 53-33 on Leilani Mitchell's corner 3-pointer. Phoenix outscored Washington 21-7 in the decisive third, holding the Mystics to 2-of-10 shooting.

"We definitely let our defense shine tonight and our offense as well," Griner said. "If you're playing good defense, then your offense will come too."

Cayla Francis, Mistie Bass, Shameka Christon combined to score all 16 of Phoenix's fourth-quarter points. Phoenix (18-13) got 33 points from its bench players and had 21 assists on 31 field goals.

"Everybody got to play tonight, that's always a good thing," Dupree said. "It gave some of the players that play a lot of minutes some rest and the people that came off the bench did a great job for us."

Defending WNBA champion Phoenix trails Western Conference-leader Minnesota by 2 1/2 games and leads third-place Tulsa by 2.

Emma Meesseman and LaToya Sanders each scored 10 points for Washington (16-13). The Mystics made just 19 of 61 shots (31 percent) and their 53 points were a season-low for a Phoenix opponent.

Washington beat Phoenix by eight points on Aug. 28 in their only other matchup this season.

"They were more aggressive today," Washington coach Mike Thibault said. "I think they doubled our posts a little bit more today. I thought their defense was a little more active today than it was when we played them last week. That was probably the biggest part of it."

DeWanna Bonner, who ranks fifth in the league in scoring at 16.3 points per game for Phoenix, was held to just four points in 19 minutes.

Bonner's first field goal was a first-quarter buzzer beater to give Phoenix a 17-15 lead. Griner scored four straight points to cap Phoenix's 15-2 second-quarter run for a 34-21 lead. Washington made just three of its first 13 shots in the second and trailed 36-28 at halftime. The Mystics stayed close by grabbing seven offensive rebounds and forcing nine Phoenix turnovers.

Dupree made all six of her first-half field goals, including a jumper just before halftime to stop Washington's 6-0 run.

"We had a little run before the end of the half that could have gotten us back in it and the start of the third quarter was crucial, they were good and we were bad," Thibault said.

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

The last time the Washington Capitals had a first-round draft pick, they selected a WHL defenseman. They did not go off script on Friday.

With the last pick of the first round, selecting for the first time as defending Stanley Cup champions, the Capitals selected Alexander Alexeyev, a left-shooting, two-way defenseman from St. Petersburg.

Alexeyev, 18, certainly boasts NHL size at 6' 4", 196 pounds. He currently plays for Red Deer in the WHL, a junior league that has become a major pipeline for the Capitals. In his second season with Red Deer, he tallied 37 points in 45 games.

The NHL Central Scouting's rankings list Alexeyev as the 22nd best North American skater of the draft. TSN projects him to be a top-four, two-way defenseman.

Analyst Craig Button described Alexeyev as a "Smart, effective defenceman who moves the puck, plays with a calm and doesn't make things complicated for himself."

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