Capitals

Fisher says Seminoles are built for the long haul

Fisher says Seminoles are built for the long haul

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Although Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher built his team to win it all this year, he doesn't think it's a now-or-never situation.

Florida State still has a lot it can accomplish and can finish the season on high note despite being upset Saturday at North Carolina State. Even a national championship, though a longshot right now, isn't totally out of the question.

Still, some fans are skeptical after the fifth loss to a double-digit underdog in Fisher's 2 1/2-seasons as head coach.

Fisher loses many top skill players and defenders after the season, along with the most successful placekicker in school history.

``I don't think it's this year or bust at all,'' Fisher said in a preseason interview. ``I think we'll be good for a time to come.''

But for many, the time was supposed to have been now - especially with a favorable schedule that had only three games outside the state.

The 12th-ranked Seminoles (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) hope to restart their winning ways Saturday when struggling Boston College (1-4, 0-2) visits in search of its first win of the year over a Football Bowl Subdivision team. The Eagles may find themselves a proverbial hornet's nest against the jilted Seminoles, who are desperate for redemption after last week's dismal second half that resulted in a 17-16 loss at North Carolina State in its first out-of-state test.

``I can't get into my opponents psyche'' Boston College coach Frank Spaziani said. ``That's Jimbo's job to worry about the psyche of his football team.

``The best way we approach it,'' Spaziani added, ``is get our guys to be play at the highest level that they possibly can and expect the other team to play at their highest level and go from there.''

Florida State is a four-touchdown favorite to win for the third straight time in the series.

But while the Seminoles still have much to play for, many fans are already thinking about what's next, with the likes of at least 10 members of the current roster on NFL teams in 2013.

``It's not like that,'' senior defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said. ``There are younger players just waiting for their time to play.''

The Seminoles, however, will be making several significant changes next season, starting with the quarterback position with the departure of fifth-year senior EJ Manuel. They also lose their best running back, Chris Thompson, one of their most reliable receivers in Rodney Smith and most versatile offensive player in fullback/tailback Lonnie Pryor.

Fisher will also need a replacement for placekicker Dustin Hopkins, who is on his way to becoming the ACC's career leading scorer and field goal kicker.

Add a half-dozen defensive starters, including possibly a few juniors who could be lured by NFL riches to leave school a year early and the Seminoles are a different team.

A sampling of names that could on the backs of a variety of NFL jerseys next season could include Carradine, Dawkins, Hopkins, Joyner, Manuel, McCloud, Moody, Rhodes, Thompson, Werner. Add Brandon Jenkins, who missed the season with a broken foot, and possibly some of the younger linemen or linebackers and Fisher will have a busy spring finding replacements.

And then there's a potential quarterback controversy in the making as well. Fisher has 15 days in spring practice and the month of August to determine whether Jacob Coker, Clint Trickett or Jameis Winston replaces Manuel.

No matter how one would look at it, there will be far more questions heading into the 2013 season, when the schedule is also going to be a bit tougher.

``I think we'll be good for a while,'' said the ever-confident Fisher.

Not that he has given up on this year.

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

On Friday, the Capitals shipped out Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to clear space on the salary cap for John Carlson's massive contract extension.

On Sunday night, Carlson signed on the dotted the line. 

The 28-year-old became the latest core Cap to sign a long-term deal, inking an eight-year extension that will carry an $8 million average salary. 

His cap hit is now the second highest on the team—behind Ovechkin’s $9.538 million charge and just ahead of Kuznetsov’s $7.8 million hit.

With Carlson locked up, the defending Stanley Cup champion now has the majority of its core signed through at least the 2019-20 season. Among the players with at least two years remaining on their deals are forwards Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nickas Backstrom and Lars Eller, defensemen Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Braden Holtby.

The Carlson news did not come as a surprise.

The Caps wanted to keep him. Carlson, who makes his offseason home in Washington, wanted to stay with the club that drafted him 27th overall in 2008. And on Friday night in Dallas, GM Brian MacLellan all but guaranteed that a deal was going to happen when he said, “We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

It ended up taking a little more than 24 hours, but in the end MacLellan got his D-man.

“John has been an exceptional and consistent player for our franchise and has blossomed into being one of the top defensemen in the NHL,” said MacLellan in a statement on Sunday. “Defenseman like John are a rare commodity in our League and, at 28 years of age, we feel he is just entering his prime.”

Indeed, Carlson notched a career-high 15 goals and 53 assists last season, and his 68 points led all NHL defensemen. He also became the eighth defensemen in Caps’ history to record 60 points in a season and the first since Mike Green accomplished the feat in 2009-10. Meanwhile, Carlson’s average ice time (24:47) also marked a career high.

“As a right-handed defenseman, John plays in all key situations and has contributed greatly to our team’s success on the special teams,” MacLellan added. “We are pleased for both parties to have come to an agreement and for him to continue his great career as a Washington Capital.”

With Carlson under contract, the Caps now have a little more than $13 million in cap space underneath the $79.5 million ceiling, according to www.capfiendly.com. Michal Kempny, Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson and Jakub Jerabek are all unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

Carlson’s also signing kicks off a big week for MacLellan.

In addition to negotiating with the free agents he hopes to retain, he’s expected to have a formal interview with associate coach Todd Reirden, who is the leading candidate to replace Barry Trotz as head coach.

So buckle up, there figure to be a few more important announcements in the coming days.

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

Free agency does not start until July 1, but John Carlson's agent is already taking calls from other interested teams.

The interview period began at 12 a.m. on Sunday morning, which means teams are now able to reach out to any potential free agents, but no contracts can be signed until July 1. While Brian MacLellan said Friday that a new deal with Carlson to keep him in Washington was "really close," Carlson's agent, Rick Curran, has made it clear there was no deal in place yet as of Sunday.

So does this mean Carlson now has one foot out the door?

Not necessarily.

At this point in the negotiation, Carlson has a major advantage and that advantage is time. Sunday's interview period is just another way to hold the Caps' feet to the fire. The closer we get to July 1, the more pressure the team is under to get a deal done.

But the Caps still have some leverage too.

“I love it here and all that,” Carlson said during on breakdown day. “I want to stay here, but there's more to it than that.”

By rule, as his current team, the Caps are the only team that can offer Carlson an eight-year deal.

So Carlson may have turned up the heat a few degrees on the Caps, but it's not time for fans to worry just yet.

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