Capitals

NFL Capsule: Cardinals at Seahawks

NFL Capsule: Cardinals at Seahawks

ARIZONA (4-8) At SEATTLE (7-5)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX

OPENING LINE - Seahawks by 10 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Arizona 5-7; Seattle 8-4

SERIES RECORD - Cardinals lead 15-12

AP PRO32 RANKING - Cardinals No. 28; Seahawks No. 12

LAST MEETING - Cardinals beat Seahawks 20-16, Sept. 9

LAST WEEK - Cardinals lost to Jets 7-6; Seahawks beat Bears 23-17 OT

CARDINALS OFFENSE - OVERALL (32), RUSH (31), PASS (27)

CARDINALS DEFENSE - OVERALL (7), RUSH (24), PASS (3)

SEAHAWKS OFFENSE - OVERALL (24), RUSH (7), PASS (30)

SEAHAWKS DEFENSE - OVERALL (4), RUSH (12), PASS (5)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Over last nine games Seahawks 7-2 against Cardinals in Seattle. ... Cardinals won in Week 1 20-16 when Kevin Kolb came off bench to lead 80-yard TD drive capped with 6-yard TD pass to Andre Roberts with 4:59 left. Cardinals defense then held Seattle inside Arizona 10 in final minute, ending when Russell Wilson's pass deflected off Braylon Edwards' hands at goal line on fourth-down. ... Cardinals current eight-game losing streak longest since dropping eight straight during 2006 season. ... Coach Ken Whisenhunt making change at QB and going back to John Skelton, who has not started since Nov. 18 at Atlanta. ... Rookie Ryan Lindley has started last two weeks, but was 10 of 31 for 72 yards last week vs. Jets. ... Cardinals had 137 yards total offense vs. Jets, fewest since 2010 and fourth-lowest total since 1995. ... Cardinals offensive line has struggled, allowing 48 sacks in 12 games, most in NFL by wide margin. Green Bay next allowing 39. ... WR Larry Fitzgerald has 106 career receptions against Seahawks. That's second most of any opponent against Seattle behind only Tim Brown and most for Fitzgerald against any team. ... While Arizona offense struggles, its defense remains among best in NFL. Cardinals enter week ranked seventh overall and third against pass. ... Cardinals sacked Seattle QB Russell Wilson three times in season opening victory. ...Seattle 12-8 over last 20 games with average margin of defeat of just 4.4 points in eight losses. ... Seahawks to play first game without CB Brandon Browner - suspended four games by NFL for use of performance enhancing drugs. ... Over last six weeks, Wilson has highest QB rating in NFL at 114.6. His rating has been above 125 in three of five games during that stretch. ... Wilson's 71 yards rushing last week vs. Chicago was most by Seahawks QB. ... Wilson has nine touchdown passes and no interceptions over past four games raising his season total to 19. He's three TD passes short of moving into second-place for most ever by rookie and seven behind Peyton Manning's record of 26. ... Despite two straight weeks of failing to top 100 yards, RB Marshawn Lynch remains No. 2 in NFL in yards rushing. ... Lynch had 87 yards on 19 carries against Chicago. ... Over past four games, WRs Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have combined 30 receptions for 487 yards and eight touchdowns. ... Seahawks defense third in NFL allowing just 16.8 ppg. ... Seahawks have just two sacks in past two weeks after having seven in two weeks before Seattle's bye. ... Rookie LB Bobby Wagner had Seahawks only sack in win over Chicago. ... Wagner leads team with 101 total tackles, 26 more than any other Seahawks defensive player. ... After forcing five turnovers against Minnesota and Jets combined, Seahawks have one in the last two weeks.

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Barry Trotz finds contract he was looking for, expected to be named New York Islanders new head coach

Barry Trotz finds contract he was looking for, expected to be named New York Islanders new head coach

Barry Trotz did not remain unemployed for very long.

Trotz, who led the Capitals to the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup title, resigned from his post less than a week after the team's championship parade in Washington, D.C.

But the former bench boss appears to be headed to New York to become the Islanders new head coach, according to Darren Dreger of TSN.

Trotz's contract was expected to expire at the end of the 2017-18 season, but upon winning the Stanley Cup, an automatic two-year extension was triggered, raising his $1.5 million yearly salary by $300,000. But Trotz wanted to be compensated as one of the top five coaches in the NHL.

While the terms of his deal have yet to be finalized, according to Elliotte Friedman, Trotz's deal could be in the 5-year, $20 million range.

With the Islanders, Trotz inherits a team that finished 35-37-10 last season under head coach Doug Weight, despite having John Tavares, one of the best centers in the NHL, and several young studs like Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle, and Josh Ho-Sang. But Tavares enters the offseason as a free agent, and many teams will be looking to pay top-dollar for his services. 

Trotz will report to Lou Lamoriello, who was named the Islanders' president and general manager in May after spending three seasons in the same role with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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The Caps' Cup-winning roster is a lesson in building through the draft

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USA TODAY Sports

The Caps' Cup-winning roster is a lesson in building through the draft

Every year, the Stanley Cup-winning team shows the importance of building through the draft. This year, that team is the Washington Capitals.

With the NHL Draft starting on Friday, let’s break down the Capitals roster from the playoffs to see just how it was put together.

Acquired by the draft: Nicklas Backstrom, Madison Bowey, Travis Boy, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Shane Gersich, Philipp Grubauer, Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Nathan Walker, Tom Wilson

Acquired as a free agent: Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson, Brett Connolly, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Devante Smith-Pelly

Acquired by trade: Lars Eller, Jakub Jerabek, Michal Kempny, T.J. Oshie

The first thing to note is that the vast majority of Washington’s roster is made up of draft picks. Specifically, the majority of the Caps’ top six on offense, three of its top six defensemen and both goalies were drafted by the team.

Of the free agent signings, only two were big money players in Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. In 2014, defense was a major question mark for the Caps and Brian MacLellan made a splash as the new general manager by signing both blue liners to big deals. The majority of the signings, however, are cheap, low risk and high reward players.

Finally, the trades include players who filled obvious needs. The Caps needed Oshie to shore up the top six, Eller was brought in to be the third line center, Kempny stepped in as a top-four defenseman and Jerabek was brought in for defensive depth.

So what does this show us?

First, the draft is absolutely critical to building a team’s core. True superstar players are hard to come by. Once a team gets one, they do everything they can to keep them. The draft is a team's first opportunity to acquire a certain player and, if they have superstar potential, sign them long-term. John Tavares this season looks headed to free agency and the buzz around him stems from the fact that he is very much the exception, not the rule. The base of the Caps’ Stanley Cup team was built by drafting star players like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Carlson, Holtby, etc.

This also shows the importance of the draft for depth. In the salary cap era, teams need to find enough cap room for their stars and their depth players. Having young players is absolutely critical because their low cap hit allows for the team to sign the expensive stars and make the important addition in free agency  or by trade. This is a formula that only works if those young players are productive as well.

Players like Vrana and Burakovsky, for example, played big roles in the playoff run, but also carried low cap hits.

So the Caps built a core through the draft and filled key roles with trades and mostly cheap free agent signings.

There is no formula for how to win a Stanley Cup, if there was everyone would do it, but this is about as close as you can come to one. A team has to draft very well and then build around those draft picks to be successful. You cannot hope to build simply through trades and free agency because of the cost. Trades always require sending an asset the other way and very often that asset turns out to be prospects or draft picks. Free agency, meanwhile, requires team overpay for top targets leading to serious cap trouble down the line.

There are always trades and free agent signings that prove to be important, but those are only pieces to a much large puzzle. To win a Stanley Cup, you have to build through the draft.

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