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2014 Sochi Games- Goalies


2014 Sochi Games- Goalies

With the Olympic torch lit, and the 2012 London Games well underway, is already looking ahead to the 2014 Sochi Games.

NHL player participation in the next Winter Olympics is still pending approval from the Board of Governors in the next CBA, but assuming that the best players in the world will be made available to the worlds biggest stage, the United States should be in the mix for another podium finish.

In the days ahead will examine USA Hockeys 2014 Mens Olympic roster position by position, beginning today with the goalies.

For years the games best netminders have hailed primarily from Canada, but the rest of the world appears to have caught up.

Since 1994, only two Canadians have won the Vezina Trophy as the NHLs best goalie (Martin Brodeur x4 and Jose Theodore) and in 2004 Nikolai Khabibulin (Russia) and Mikka Kiprusoff (Finland) became the first European goalies to square off in the Stanley Cup Finals.

But is this a golden age for U.S. goalies? Consider that in 2009 and 2010 Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller became the first Americans to win the Vezina Trophy in back-to-back years (Thomas then won again in 2011).

And the success of the American goalie also extends to the Stanley Cup Finals where Thomas (2011) and Jonathan Quick (2012) became the first Americans to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as Playoff MVP in consecutive years.

As USA Hockey looks towards the 2014 Sochi Games, goaltending may be its deepest position.

JONATHAN QUICK (Los Angeles Kings): The Milford, CONN native led the NHL last season with 10 shutouts, finished second with a 1.95 goals-against-average and was the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy. This was all before he had even backstopped the Los Angeles Kings to an improbable Stanley Cup win.

Quick, 26, was rewarded at seasons end with a ten-year contract extension and he may just be USA Hockeys No.1 goalie for the next decade as well.

Quick was the Americans No.3 goalie at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

JIMMY HOWARD (Detroit Red Wings): Only three goalies have won more games the past two years than the 28-year-old, Syracuse, NY native. It should also be noted though, that only three teams have scored more goals than Detroit has over those same two years.

Unlike Quick who had to be exceptional just to get the 29th ranked offense into the playoffs last season, Howard just had to be good enough with the high-scoring Red Wings. In a short tournament where so much of a teams success can lie with a hot goalie (see Hasek, 1998, Czech Republic or Miller, 2010, USA), Howard may not be that dominant goalie who can steal games.

Howard was the Americans No.1 goalie at the 2012 World Hockey Championships.

CORY SCHNEIDER (Vancouver Canucks): Two years after Roberto Luongo backstopped Team Canada to the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games, Schneider has replaced Luongo as the Canucks No.1 goalie.

While Luongo has had his struggles in Vancouver, the steady play of Schneider, 26, led to a three-year 12 million deal this summer and a clear message from Canucks management that their future lies with the Salem, MASS native.

Schneider finished second last season with a .937 save percentage and he was third with a 1.96 GAA but it remains to be seen how he will do as a fulltime starter. The first-round pick (26th overall) from the 2006 NHL Entry Draft has 56 career NHL starts.

Schneider has not played on USA Hockeys Mens National Team, but he played with the U.S. at the 2004 World U-18 Championships and at the 2005 and 2006 World Junior Championships.

RYAN MILLER (Buffalo Sabres): Miller set the record straight at the 2010 Vancouver Games that he was the best goalie in the world. He went 5-0-0 in leading the U.S. to the gold medal game before falling 3-2 in overtime against the host Canadians. He was named tournament MVP and finished with a .946 SV and an Olympic record 1.35 GAA. Months later he won his first career Vezina Trophy.

But since that magical run in 2010 when he finished second in the NHL in both SV and GAA, Millers numbers have dropped significantly. The East Lansing, MI native has finished outside the top-15 in SV and outside of the top-20 in GAA in each of the past two years.

In addition to starting for the U.S. in 2010, the 32-year-old was a backup for the U.S. at the 2006 Turin Games.

TIM THOMAS (Boston Bruins): It remains unclear if Thomas will ever play in the NHL again let alone represent the U.S. in Sochi in 2014. Shortly after the Washington Capitals eliminated the Bruins from the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Thomas announced on his Facebook page that would sit out the 2012-13 season.

After a dream season in 2010-11 which saw Thomas lead the NHL with a 2.00 GAA and .938 SV and win the Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophies (plus that big silver mug they hand out at the end of the year), the Flint, MI native dropped to 10th in GAA and SV last year.

Thomas also drew attention for all the wrong reasons when he refused to join his teammates for their visit to the White House and took to social media to share his political opinions.

Unless Thomas returns to the NHL in 2013-14 and can display his 2011 form, its hard to imagine USA Hockey bringing someone along who could potentially use the Olympic stage to make more political statements and serve as a distraction to the team.

Thomas has represented the U.S. at five World Championships and he was the Americans backup goalie at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Ben Bishop (Ottawa Senators), Craig Anderson (Ottawa Senators), Richard Bachman (Dallas Stars), Scott Clemmensen (Florida Panthers)

Which goalies do you think will represent the United States at the 2014 Sochi Games? Share your comments below. Check back on in the days to come for other positions.

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2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL


2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL

The Caps made seven selections in the 2018 Draft this weekend. The group featured three defensemen, three forwards and a goalie. Interestingly, a couple of the picks have fathers who enjoyed lengthy NHL careers.

Meet the newest prospects:

1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds

The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.

Read more on him here.

2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds

A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.

2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds

Kody Clark boasts an NHL pedigree as the son of Wendel Clark, a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs who recorded 330 goals and 564 career points in 763 NHL games.

3rd round, 93rd overall: F Riley Sutter, WHL, 6'3", 203 pounds

Riley Sutter also boasts a strong NHL pedigree as the son of Run Sutter and nephew of Darryl Sutter.

Riley is a power forward who played alongside Caps prospect Garrett Pilon on the Everett Silvertips in the WHL and recorded 53 points in 68 games last season.

4th round, 124th overall: G Mitchell Gibson, NAHL, 6'1", 187 pounds

A Harvard commit, Gibson posted a 1.59 GAA and .935 save percentage in the NAHL last season.

6th round, 161st overall (from Vancouver): D Alex Kannok-Leipert, WHL, 5'11", 194 pounds

The Caps certainly saw something they liked in Kannok-Leipert as they traded up from 186 to get him. That pick, along with a sixth-round pick in 2019, went to Vancouver.

7th round, 217th overall: F Eric Florchuk, WHL, 6'2", 174 pounds

Florchuk was taken with the last pick of the draft.


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


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.”