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Are Ward, Green headed for greener pastures?

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Are Ward, Green headed for greener pastures?

With free-agent hunting season just one week away, it’s looking more and more like Joel Ward and Mike Green will be heading to other NHL teams while Jay Beagle and Eric Fehr may be staying put.

Earlier today, Ward’s agent, Peter Cooney, told CSN’s Jill Sorenson that Ward is seeking a contract of at least four years. At 34 years old, the Capitals likely would prefer a two-year deal for Ward, with the possibility of stretching it to three.

Ward, who is at the end of a four-year, $12 million contract with the Caps, likely is seeking a similar dollar value on his next contract. But if he’s seeking four years, it’s doubtful it will come in Washington.

Ward finished tied with Alex Ovechkin for the team lead in playoff points with nine, and has scored 43 goals in his past two seasons with the Capitals.

But with restricted free agents Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson due big raises next season, the Capitals may let Ward test the waters of free agency on July 1. If, by the end of July 1, no other NHL teams are willing to meet Ward’s contract demands, he may allow the Capitals back into the mix.

Green, 29, is at the end of a three-year, $18.25 million contract that carried an estimated $6.1 million cap hit and he is expected to earn at least that term and value in his next contract.

Green’s agent, Craig Oster [who also represents Fehr], did not return messages left for him on Wednesday, but if talks with the Capitals have not met Green’s expectations he could begin courting other NHL teams as early as Thursday, the first day NHL teams may speak with pending UFAs they may be interested in signing when the bell rings on July 1.

During his exit interview with reporters, Green said he would like to remain in Washington but also noted the need for him to play a “significant role,” adding “I feel like I can play top-two [pairing] for sure.”

If Green returns he’ll be slotted as the Caps’ fifth defenseman behind John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner. And for more than $6 million, the Caps are not likely to allow that to happen.

Some believe Green, who has spent his entire 10-year career with the Capitals, could be heading to the Edmonton Oilers, who are expected to take Connor McDavid with the first pick of Friday night’s draft and could be a powerhouse in the coming years.

As for Beagle and Fehr, MacLellan told Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman that he is “trying to close” deals for both veteran centers.

Fehr, 29, is coming off his most productive season in five years with 19 goals and 33 points. He is coming off a two-year, $3 million contract and is likely seeking a longer term with higher value, possibly a three-year deal in the $8 million range.

Beagle, also 29, is coming off a career year in which he recorded a career-high 10 goals and 20 points in just 62 games.

His last contract was a three-year deal worth $2.7 million and he’s likely seeking another three years in the neighborhood of $5 million.

Beagle’s agent, Wade Arnott, did not return a message left for him on Wednesday.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

Less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup, the Caps are in need of a new head coach.

Barry Trotz resigned as the Caps coach on Monday after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. How did we get here and where do both parties go from here? JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break it all down.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

For now, Todd Reirden appears to be the frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.

But who is he? 

Here are some things to know about the Capitals head coaching candidate:

1. Reirden spent the last four seasons with Washington on Barry Trotz's staff

Should Reirden be hired, he would bring a measure of familiarity with him few teams get after a coaching change. Reirden was hired by Trotz in 2014 when Trotz was putting together his staff. He was brought in to coach the team's defense and immediately improved the blue line.

In the year prior to Reirden's hiring, the Caps allowed 2.74 goals per game, good for only 21st in the NHL.

Here is what the defense has done in Reirden's four years in charge of the defense:

2014-15: 2.43 goals against per game, 7th in the NHL
2015-16: 2.33 goals against per game, 2nd in the NHL
2016-17: 2.16 goals against per game, 1st in the NHL
2017-18: 2.90 goals against per game, 16th in the NHL

In those four seasons combined, Washington allowed 2.45 goals per game, lower than every team in the NHL but one. He was also in charge of the team's lethal power play.

2. Reirden has been a head coach before

While he may never have been a head coach in the NHL, Reirden does have some head coaching experience.

Reirden was promoted to head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2009 when Dan Bylsma was promoted to head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While head coach, Reirden led the team to a 55-43-8 record.

3. Reirden came to Washington from the Penguins

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with their AHL affiliate and took over as head coach later that season. He joined the Penguins' playoff staff during the 2009 Cup run. He was promoted to a full-time assistant coach under with the NHL team under Bylsma in 2010 and was there for four years until Byslma was fired. Reirden was not initially fired, but was allowed to seek other opportunities. When he was officially fired, the Capitals hired him the same day.

4. Reirden had a lot to do with Matt Niskanen signing with the Caps

Reirden was hired by the Caps on June 25, 2014. On July 1, Matt Niskanen signed with Washington.

Reirden and Niskanen developed a strong relationship while in Pittsburgh. Niskanen dealt with confidence issues after getting traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh in 2011. Under Reirden's tutelage, Niskanen developed into a top-pair defenseman. Niskanen's agent said at the time it was "no secret" that Reirden and Niskanen had bonded while both were in Pittsburgh.

Brooks Orpik also signed with the Caps as a free agent that year, the second defenseman from Pittsburgh to sign in Washington showing the level of respect they felt for Reirden.

5. Reirden nearly became the head coach of Calgary

Reirden interviewed for the head coaching job in Calgary in 2016 and was considered a finalist for the position before eventually losing out Glen Gulutzan.

Gulutzan was fired by Calgary after the 2017-18 season and is now an assistant coach in Edmonton while Reirden is the frontrunner to become the head coach for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Sounds like things worked out for Reirden.

6. The Caps have been grooming Reirden to be a head coach

Reirden was promoted to associate coach in August 2016 after Calgary had passed on him. Since then, the Caps have not allowed him to interview with other teams for head coaching positions. The implication was clear, this was someone the team wanted to keep.

"You know I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach whether for us or someone else," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan Monday.

7. Reiden played in 183 career NHL games

Reirden was a defenseman drafted in the 12th round by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. After playing four years at Bowling Green, Reirden went pro with several seasons in the ECHL, IHL and AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1998-99 season. Reirden would also play with the St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes. 

For his NHL career, Reirden scored 11 goals and 46 points in 183 games.

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