Capitals

Sporting KC to host MLS All-Star game in July

Sporting KC to host MLS All-Star game in July

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) Major League Soccer is bringing its All-Star game to the home of Sporting Kansas City.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced Thursday that Livestrong Sporting Park would host the July 31 game between MLS All-Stars and an international club still to be determined. It will be the 10th time that MLS All-Stars have played an international opponent.

``This market has just been so incredibly exciting for all of us at Major League Soccer, and really for soccer fans throughout the United States and North America,'' Garber said. ``This has been one of the great, great success stories for our sport.''

Last year's game between MLS All-Stars and Premier League club Chelsea was played at PPL Park in Chester, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia. The MLS side won that game 3-2.

The opponent for this year's All-Star game will be announced at a later date, but Garber said that Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes would serve as coach for the MLS team.

The game in Kansas City, Kan., follows a successful showing by the metro area in hosting Major League Baseball's All-Star game last summer. Fans packed every event during the weeklong festivities at Kauffman Stadium, just across the state line in Kansas City, Mo.

``You want to really highlight how engaged Kansas City is in soccer, and I think that's going to be a phenomenal opportunity for us,'' Mayor Joe Reardon said. ``Last year's game against Chelsea in Philadelphia was fun to watch on TV. Now we're going to get to watch it right here.''

The past few years, MLS has brought its All-Star games to the smaller, soccer-specific stadiums that have popped up in its markets across the country.

Garber said it's important to reward those who invested in the facilities rather than playing the game at a larger stadium that could generate more revenue. That's why the game will be played at Livestrong Sporting Park, which opened in 2011, rather than at Arrowhead Stadium, the home facility of the Kansas City Chiefs.

``There's been a massive financial commitment by the team and the community to build this stadium, and they deserve to have this showcase rather than playing it in a larger venue where we could arguably make more money,'' Garber said. ``We're proud of that.''

Livestrong Sporting Park has already become one of the jewels of MLS. It hosted the U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Olympic qualifying rounds last summer, along with the CONCACAF Gold Cup the previous summer, when the $200 million stadium had just opened.

Sporting KC's average attendance last season, when the club won the regular-season Eastern Conference championship, was 19,404 - well over the listed seating capacity of 18,467, thanks to a number of areas where standing-room tickets are sold.

``The goal and vision for the club is to win MLS Cups. Let's always be clear,'' said Sporting KC CEO Robb Heineman. ``But this is a great day for the stadium and the city. It's the kind of event we always wanted to have, and for it to come to fruition so quickly is a great thing for us.''

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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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Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

DALLAS—The Capitals have dealt backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer and veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round pick, the team announced shortly before the NHL Draft kicked off Friday at American Airlines Center.

After the moves, the Caps had more than $21 million in space under the salary cap ceiling, according to www.capfriendly.com, and potentially enough room to accommodate new contracts for John Carlson and other key free agents.

GM Brian MacLellan was widely expected to deal Grubauer, a 26-year-old who wanted the opportunity to be a No. 1. As a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was also coming off a strong season, Grubauer was due a significant raise.

“We would like to thank Brooks and Philipp for all of their contributions to our organization,” MacLellan said in a statement. “Philipp has been a consummate professional and a great teammate and we wish him all the best.”

Trading Orpik, on the other hand, was a bit unexpected, particularly considering how much the 37-year-old’s rugged play and leadership meant to the Caps during their run to the Stanley Cup.

By dealing Orpik, MacLellan shed his $5.5 million cap hit for next season—an important development given the Caps’ tight salary cap situation and the number of key players who need new contracts. Carlson, Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek are unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Avalanche are expected to help Orpik land a preferred spot, whether via trade or buyout. By taking on Orpik in the deal, Friedman reported, the Avs only had to give up one pick.

“Brooks,” MacLellan continued, “was a great leader and a tremendous role model for our young players in his four years with our organization. This was a difficult move, but the one we felt we needed to make in order to give some flexibility moving forward.”

Will moving out Grubauer and eliminating Orpik’s cap charge allow MacLellan to ink Carlson, who's set to become the top defenseman on the free agent market? That’s unclear, but it will sure help the Caps’ cause. Carlson is expected to command an extension in the eight-year, $8 million per neighborhood. 

Dealing Orpik also opens up a spot for a young and inexpensive defenseman such as Christian Djoos or Madison Bowey to take on a bigger role in 2018-19.

Without Grubauer, the Caps are likely to turn to Pheonix Copley, who is due to earn the NHL minimum of $650,000 next season, as their backup next season. And if Copley starts the year in Washington, that allows 2015 first round pick Ilya Samsonov to take the reins in Hershey.

The second round pick the Caps received in exchange for Grubauer and Orpik is the 47th overall selection.

MacLellan is expected to speak to reporters following the first round later Friday night. The Caps currently hold the 31st overall pick.

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