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Agent explains why Fehr won't be returning to Caps


Agent explains why Fehr won't be returning to Caps

Two days ago, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Capitals general manager Bran MacLellan was “trying to close” free agent deals with centers Eric Fehr and Jay Beagle.

While that may be the case with Beagle, Fehr’s agent said Thursday that Fehr will be interviewing with other NHL teams interested in signing him when the free agency period begins next Wednesday. Beginning today, pending unrestricted free agents can begin speaking with prospective teams.

“Eric has had significant interest and he will be participating in the interview period,” Fehr’s agent, Craig Oster, said Thursday, adding that he never talked contract term or value with the Capitals.

“I think it’s the Capitals having to prioritize how to allocate their resources,” Oster said, referring to pending restricted free agents Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov. “They have limited resources and have to make some tough choices.”

Fehr, 29, is coming off his most productive season in five years. He recorded 19 goals and 33 points for the Caps while solidifying himself as a checking-line center. Fehr missed 10 of the Caps’ final 11 games with an elbow injury, then missed 10 of their 14 playoff games with a shoulder injury.

Fehr is ending a two-year contract that paid him an annual salary of $1.5 million. He could be looking to double that contract in both term and value.


Fehr said after the season that he hoped he could return for a 10th season with the Caps who took him with the 18th overall pick of the 2003 NHL draft, but Oster said that never came close to happening.

 “Eric has mentioned to them all along that if there was a possibility of doing something that makes sense for both sides he’d be interested in coming back,” Oster said. “I think Washington recognized that in the preliminary discussions we had that Eric has certain [salary] expectations and because of that I guess they made a determination that it’s just not going to work, or there are other things they have to focus on first.

“I think Eric’s first priority was to stay in Washington and he never had the opportunity to get into meaningful discussions about doing that.”

Of the Caps’ five notable pending UFAs – Mike Green, Joel Ward, Curtis Glencross, Tim Gleason and Fehr – it now appears Beagle has the best chance of returning next season. MacLellan said Thursday he does not rule out the possibility of circling back to his UFAs on July 1 if they have not signed with other teams by then.

“I get the sense there are not many UFA contracts being signed right now. I’m not sure what’s going on in the market place but I think a lot of teams are struggling to get their guys signed. It think it’s just what’s going on in the market.

“Ideally, [circling back] would be the way it works, but it’s hard to predict.”

If Green, Ward, Fehr, Glencross and Gleason sign elsewhere, the Caps would have holes to fill at top-line right wing, third-line center and seventh defenseman, either through trade, free agent signings or promoting from within.

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This Caps Stanley Cup tattoo has everyone's beat


This Caps Stanley Cup tattoo has everyone's beat

Since the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time over one month ago, Caps fans, (and players), have rushed to their local tattoo parlor to get some ink commemorating the win.

We've seen the classic Capitals logo with the Stanley Cup, but nothing that comes close to the masterpiece that is Shane Peacher's tattoo.

Peacher tweeted to Joe B and Courtney Laughlin the finished tat: a work of art featuring Alex Ovechkin kissing the Stanley Cup for the first time as it's hoisted over his head.

Joe B replied making sure Shane had enough room on his other tricep for next year.

Shane replied that he's thinking of Evgeny Kuznetsov's iconic celebration that has since been dubbed the "birdman."

Shane got his Caps tattoo at the Helix Tattoo Lodge in Rising Sun, Maryland, by tattoo artist, Justin Holcombe.


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Key Caps questions: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing long-term?

Key Caps questions: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing long-term?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing a long-term contract?

Tarik: When a player has a career year and it coincides with the final year of his contract, the reaction from some fans and media is often a sarcastic, ‘Well, of course he did.’

And I’m sure there are some folks who wonder about Carlson’s breakout season and whether there was a connection between the uptick in his production and the potential of an enormous payday.

Indeed, the 28-year-old established highs in goals (15), assists (53), points (68) and ice time (24:47). He was outstanding in the postseason, too, amassing five goals and 15 assists while playing solidly in his own end to help lead the Caps to their first championship.

The financial reward came a couple of weeks later when he signed an eight-year, $64 million contract to remain in Washington.

Which brings us to today’s question.

It’s obviously impossible to say for sure what’s going to happen, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he had another big season. Why? A few reasons:

  • As good as he was, last year wasn’t a total outlier, either. Carlson racked up 55 points (12 goals, 43 assists) in 2014-15, which was tied for fifth best among blue liners that year.
  • He was at his best last season skating with trade deadline addition Michal Kempny. Kempny, of course, also re-upped, agreeing to a four-year extension. So, in theory, Carlson should be able to pick up where he left off.
  • Carlson has credited Todd Reirden with helping him take his game to new heights. Well, Reirden is now the guy in charge of the whole operation. How could that not help?
  • A major reason Carlson puts up so many points is his role on the power play. And that unit, which really hit its stride in the postseason (29.3-percent), returns all five skaters.
  • Carlson has also been pretty durable, which is critical to being productive. In fact, last season he skated in all of the Caps’ games for the sixth time in eight full-time seasons.

So, yeah, it’s all setting up nicely for Carlson to have a strong 2018-19.

To me, the only unknown is whether he’ll have the same hunger and determination now that he’s got long-term security and that previously elusive championship ring.

Again, that’s impossible to predict. But I can tell you this: Over the course of two decades in this business, I’ve covered lots of players who inked life-changing contracts. With a few of them, I had immediate concerns.

I have no such reservations about Carlson's ability to play up to his new deal, particularly in the first several seasons of it.

JJ: There's nothing wrong with a player being motivated by a new deal, but I am always wary when players have career years on the last year of their contract.

The issue is whether or not a player can continue to play at the level they showed when a new contract is no longer a motivating factor. After signing a new deal for eight years and $64 million, Carlson won't have to think about money or contracts for a long time.

When it comes to motivation, a lot of the questions surrounding the Capitals this year will depend on how they react to winning the Cup. Of course everyone wants to repeat, but psychologically will they come into camp more motivated than ever to defend their title or will they be satisfied with finally winning it all?

For Carlson, there are several reasons to be hopeful. Tarik went over a number of those reasons above, but the two biggest for me are Michal Kempny and Todd Reirden.

This season, Carlson will have Kempny as his partner to start, rather than a cycle of practically every left-handed defenseman on the ice depending on the situation. Second, what Mitch Korn is to goalies, Reirden is to defensemen. With him as the head coach, I believe the ceiling for Carlson will only continue to climb.

Let's also go beyond the numbers. Matt Niskanen suffered an injury early last season that forced Carlson into a primary role on both ends of the ice. He was playing nearly 30 minutes a night and, with two rookies on the blue line who Barry Trotz did everything he could to shelter, those were very hard minutes. Yet, Carlson excelled. The offensive upside was always there, but the way he played defensively was a revelation.

While Dmitry Orlov and Niskanen will remain a solid pair for the Caps, I believe Carlson will be the guy heading into the season which will mean more minutes and more responsibility.

Plus, despite what he meant to the team's defense and despite leading all defensemen in points with 68, Carlson was not selected to participate in the All-Star Game, he was not one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy and he was not among the four defensemen named to the end of season All-Star team. His incredible season earned him no recognition at all other than his new contract. A $64 million contract is a heck of a consolation prize, but his season deserved more recognition than that.

You don't often see a player of his caliber enter a season with a chip on his shoulder, but Carlson should have a fairly sizable one.

Other key questions

How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?
Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?
Can Alex Ovechkin still challenge for another Rocket Richard Trophy?
Has Evgeny Kuznetsov made the jump from really good player to superstar?