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3 current Caps named 2017's top unrestricted free agents

3 current Caps named 2017's top unrestricted free agents

By now, you've probably heard a lot of talk about how the Capitals need to win the Stanley Cup this year because the team is going to look very different in 2017-18. The reason why is because Washington has several expiring contracts this year and some of those players will be hard to keep.

How hard? 

Luke Fox of SportsNet ranked the 17 top unrestricted free agents of 2017 and three of them made the top five. Deadline acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk is ranked No. 1 with T.J. Oshie coming in just behind him at No. 2.

"NHL teams salivate over puck-moving defencemen under the age of 30, so expect Shattenkirk to knock his next contract out of the park," writes Fox. "Think Keith Yandle's seven-year, $44.45-million pact signed with the Panthers last year."

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Shattenkirk is just 28 and is still very much in his prime. He was the biggest target at the trade deadline and will clearly cost top dollar to keep around. His expiring contract was an issue for St. Louis all season leading to his eventual trade. If the Caps hope to keep him in Washington, it may mean moving a significant piece of the roster to fit his cap hit.

As good as Shattenkirk is and as well as he may fit the modern NHL, many may still be surprised to see him ahead of Oshie. Oshie has scored a career-high 32 goals this season and clearly has developed chemistry with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, a forward pair that sometimes struggles to find a compliment.

What likely pulls Oshie to No. 2 is his age. This is the first 30-goal season of Oshie's career and it came at the age of 30. This is not a level of production you can expect from him for many more years.

The third Cap to make the list is Karl Alzner who ranks No. 5. Writes Fox, "is there room to keep the defensively responsible Alzner and the younger Dmitry Orlov (RFA again)? Oh, yeah. Now Shattenkirk is here too. ...  Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos reported in the winter that Alzner is asking for $5.5 to $6 million per season from Washington in light of the hefty Brent Burns deal."

Alzner is the best defensive player on the team, but his style does not fit the modern NHL the way Shattenkirk's does. He is not a puck-mover and, for a Caps team with a lot of other players to sign, it may be difficult to find enough money to pay Alzner his reported asking price. Whether he is worth that much to Washington going forward is a question the team will need to ask.

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Capitals Injury updates: Braden Holtby a possibility to start in Montreal

Capitals Injury updates: Braden Holtby a possibility to start in Montreal

The Capitals were able to pull out a win Friday in Colorado without Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie or Braden Holtby. With a game Monday in Montreal, the team hopes it will not be quite as shorthanded against the Canadiens.

Washington practiced Sunday in Montreal and three goalies took to the ice. Holtby was on the ice along with Pheonix Copley and Ilya Samsonov 

Holtby suffered an upper-body injury Wednesday morning prior to the game in Winnipeg. That injury kept him out of the lineup both Wednesday and Friday. The Caps netminder told Chris Kuc of The Atlantic that he is ready to play, but still needs to be cleared by doctors.

Head coach Todd Reirden said after practice that Holtby was a possibility to start Monday.

With Holtby’s status still up in the air, Samsonov remains with the team in case he is needed to suit up as a backup.

While Holtby was on the ice for practice, both Kuznetsov and Oshie were not. Reirden told the media that both players are day-to-day and are with the team in Montreal. Their status for Monday remains uncertain.

With no Kuznetsov or Oshie, Reirden kept the offensive lines largely the same from Friday except for switching Devante Smith-Pelly to the third line and moving Brett Connolly down to the fourth.

Alex Ovechkin – Lars Eller – Tom Wilson 
Jakub Vrana – Nicklas Backstrom – Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson – Travis Boyd – Devante Smith-Pelly
Dmitrij Jaskin – Nic Dowd – Brett Connolly

Reirden switched up the lines frequently on Friday and Stephenson, Boyd, Smith-Pelly combined for a goal in the second period.

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Capitals vs. Canadiens: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Capitals vs. Canadiens: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

When the Capitals traveled to Montreal to face the Canadiens earlier this month, they suffered one of their toughest losses of the season, allowing three goals in the final three-plus minutes of the third period, falling 6-4 in devastating fashion.

The Caps will be looking for revenge on Monday evening, as they get their first crack at the Canadiens since that devastating loss.

Alex Ovechkin enjoys playing against the Canadiens. In 47 games against Montreal in his career, Ovechkin has 51 points (29 goals and 22 assists), including a two-goal performance in their meeting earlier this season.

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Canadiens which takes place Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.

CAPITALS at CANADIENS: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens, Game 20 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: Monday, November 19, 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals vs. Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals at the Canadiens on the new MyTeams by NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7, 106.7 The Fan, 1500 AM

CAPITALS at CANADIENS TV SCHEDULE

6:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live
7:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:30 PM: Capitals at Montreal Canadiens
10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS at CANADIENS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Max Domi, LW, Canadiens: In 20 games, Domi has recorded a point in all but three of them. His 24 points are tied for the ninth-most in the NHL.

Alex Ovechkin, LW, Capitals: Ovechkin loves playing against the Canadiens, as he has totaled 51 points in 47 career games against Montreal. In their first meeting this season, he netted two goals in the 6-4 loss.

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