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Another 'world-class goal' for Ovechkin


Another 'world-class goal' for Ovechkin

When Alex Ovechkin was asked Saturday about what many will call one of the most dazzling goals of his career, he replied, “Our line didn’t play well.”

OK. Maybe not.

But just as he has so many other times in his career, Ovechkin turned a game around with a breathtaking end-to-end rush in which he deftly slid the puck behind him, weaved around Devils defenseman John Moore, and beat goaltender Keith Kinkaid under the crossbar for the go-ahead goal in the Caps’ eventual 5-3 win in their season opener.  

“He’s got a unique ability that he can shoot the puck from behind your feet,” said Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik, who scored his first goal as a Capital in the win. “If you overplay it, that’s what he can do to you. It was a tough night for that guy (Moore). I think he blocked two of Ovi’s slappers, too.”

“That’s what fans pay their money to see,” said Caps left wing Jason Chimera, who picked up a goal and an assist in his season debut. “Just a world-class goal by a world-class player. A lot of guys would fall down if they tried that kind of stuff.”

Caps goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 21 of 24 shots, including a second-period breakaway by Adam Henrique that kept the score knotted at 2-2, said he was more impressed with Ovechkin’s shot placement – under the crossbar – even though Kinkaid said, “I’ve got to make that save.”  

“The move was good, but I think the shot was the impressive part, where he put it,” Holtby said. “And I thought his assist (to Marcus Johansson to make it 4-2) was equally good.

“The way he can shoot the puck he gets so much respect and that back door was pretty wide open and he found it and Marcus did a great job putting it in.”

In 22 shifts and 21:02 of ice time, Ovechkin had 10 shot attempts (four of them were blocked, two missed the net), one goal, one assist and was a plus-1.

“We’re very fortunate to have a guy like Ovi, who really didn’t do anything early in the game,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought he was a non-factor. But when the game was on the line he became a big factor in the next two goals.

“But I didn’t like our overall game. Too many turnovers. It was not a solid game for us.”

The Capitals have 81 games to correct some of the miscues of Saturday night. But having a game-breaker like Ovechkin made the difference in Game 1.

“I shook my head, tipped my hat to him and said, ‘Eighty-one more games,’ ’’Justin Williams said. “If you can just do that every time we’re tied, that’ll be fine.”

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin too much for Devils in opener 

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Brooks Orpik's time in Washington may not be over after all

Brooks Orpik's time in Washington may not be over after all

Friday's trade with the Colorado Avalanche seemed to mark the end of Brooks Orpik's time with the Washington Capitals. But that may not actually be the case.

Trading away Orpik also meant trading away his $5.5 million cap hit. That is not an insignificant amount of money especially for a team trying to re-sign defenseman John Carlson to a big-money contract.

But Orpik will not be playing out the final year of his contract in Colorado. The Avalanche placed Orpik on unconditional waivers Saturday for the purpose of a buyout, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

CapFriendly has the details of the buyout. The Avalanche will pay Orpik $3 million and take a cap hit of $2.5 million in the 2018-19 season and $1.5 million in the 2019-20 season.

So why would Colorado agree to take Orpik just to buy him out and take on dead cap space? Because by acquiring him, it lowered the cost of the Grubauer trade.

What this means for Brooks Orpik is that he will become a free agent, free to sign with anyone for the upcoming season. Including Washington.

For a 37-year-old defenseman who does not boast great mobility or speed, a $5.5 million cap hit was a bit too steep for the Caps who were very close to the cap ceiling last season and who need that extra money to re-sign their free agents. But the team did value Orpik's leadership and that could be especially important as young defensemen Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos continue developing plus prospects Jonas Siegenthaler, Lucas Johansen and Connor Hobbs all try to work themselves into contention for a spot on the NHL roster.

If Orpik does return, it will be a masterstroke for general manager Brian MacLellan. MacLellan freed up a lot of cap space to re-sign Carlson without having to buy out Orpik's contract, but could still possibly keep him on the roster at a much-reduced cost.

After a strong playoff performance, there may be other teams vying for Orpik's services next season. Getting traded to get bought out likely isn't a good feeling, but considering he just won a Stanley Cup in Washington, the defensive guru Todd Reirden is expected to be promoted to head coach and that re-signing with the Caps would mean not moving his family for what could very possibly and will very likely be the last contract of his NHL career, there are a lot of reasons why it would make sense for both the team and the player if Orpik stayed with the Caps.


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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.