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Brouwer: Signing with Caps 'wasn't too tough'

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Brouwer: Signing with Caps 'wasn't too tough'

Troy Brouwer realizes he could have played out the final year of his contract with the Capitals and cashed in on unrestricted free agency next summer.

But with a baby on the way and a lower salary cap on the horizon, the 27-year-old left wing played it safe and signed a three-year contract extension Wednesday that should keep him in Washington through the 2015-16 season.

I really like where the team is headed, Brouwer said from New York, where he is attending the NHLPA meetings. I felt we made a lot of good progress last season, going into the second round of the playoffs and being a team that can really compete.

Plus, this year we got Mike Ribeiro, who can create a more offensive threat. Plus, I get stability for my family. It ensures me and my family will be set and we like living in DC, as well. It wasnt too tough a decision.

Acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks last summer in exchange for the Capitals 26th pick overall of the 2011 entry draft Phillip Danault, Brouwer recorded 18 goals and 15 assists in 82 games last season. He also led the Capitals with 247 hits and finished second with 60 blocked shots.

I thought I had a good season, Brouwer said. I tried to fit in with the guys right away and tried to make an impact as well as I could. Im a versatile player who can play up and down the lineup, wherever they need me. I was able to help out with scoring and play with Jay Beagle and Matt Hendricks on a checking line and I thought we did a good job of that, especially in the Boston series which the Caps won in seven games.

Id like to improve next season as far as offensive production, but also wherever head coach Adam Oates wants to fit me into the lineup.

Brouwer will make 2.35 million under his current contract this season. When his new deal kicks in hell earn 3.6 million next season, 3.65 the following season and 3.75 in 2015-16.

Brouwer is valued as much for his leadership in the locker room and his intangibles on the ice as he is for his goal scoring. He said he thinks that part of his game, which includes winning a Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010, is big.

I think its important not to get too high or too low, Brouwer said. We have a pretty young team, but a lot of the guys have won at other levels. A lot of guys know how to win but sometimes its taking those emotions and channeling them into a very important game. Hopefully, last year I was able to bring some secondary experience and I think with bringing in Ribeiro well have even more than that this season.

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Capitals prospect report: The chocolate and white is feeling a bit black and blue

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USA Today

Capitals prospect report: The chocolate and white is feeling a bit black and blue

The Hershey Bears won their first game of the season on Tuesday, beating rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3-2. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Hershey is now 1-5 on the season and sits in last place in the Atlantic Division.

The Bears missed the playoffs last season meaning a 1-5 start to this season is not sitting well for fans of the storied AHL franchise.

The roster in Hershey looks much improved compared to last season. So why are they struggling and how do they turn things around?

The biggest issue to me is cohesion. Head coach Spencer Carbery is in his first season with the team. In addition, this roster has had a lot of turnover. Caps prospects Shane Gersich, Juuso Ikonen, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Max Kammerer, Beck Malenstyn, Garrett Pilon, Brian Pinho, Tobias Geisser and Ilya Samsonov are all making their AHL debuts this season. Other additions such as Michael Sgarbossa, Jayson Megna and Sergei Shumakov makes this roster largely a collection of players who have not played together before. There were going to be growing pains, but the Bears are going to get better as the season goes along.

    Another issue has been injuries.

    Samsonov became just the latest in a long list of players on the shelf due to injury. It was announced on Wednesday that he suffered a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. He did not dress for the team’s game that night and Hershey was forced to sign a local goalie, Padraig Carey, to an amateur tryout agreement to serve as the backup to Vitek Vanecek.

    Hershey recalled goalie Parker Milner from the ECHL on Thursday.

    In addition to Samsonov’s injury, Kris Bindulis, Colby Williams, Riley Barber, Ikonen and Shumakov are all dealing with upper-body injuries while Mason Mitchell has a lower-body ailment.

    Other prospect notes:

    • With so many new players, several have reached early career milestones. Pilon (2 assists), Kammerer (3 assists), Malenstyn (1 assist) and Jonsson-Fjallby (1 goal) all recorded their first AHL points over the week. Here’s a look at Jonsson-Fjallby’s goal:
       

    • Jonsson-Fjallby remains in Hershey despite rumors last week of a return to Sweden. Those rumors seem to have originated from Sweden and now it looks like any speculation of Jonsson-Fjallby leaving for his home country have been put to bed. Swedish outlet Expressen spoke with Joakim Eriksson, sports director of Jonsson-Fjallby’s Swedish team Djurgarden. In that report published Monday, Eriksson said (as translated by Google translate), “Axel has a contract with Washington and no other team. It's Axel's decision altogether, but we have said that we have a place available and that's how the situation has been. Everything else has just been media speculation.”
       
    • The blog Russian Machine Never Breaks made a trek out to Hershey and spoke with Ilya Samsonov about his transition to North America and his start in the AHL. “For so long, as you understand, I spent my whole life speaking a different language,” Samsonov said. “So, for now, it’s hard for me to hear what my teammates are saying on the ice. Some things I don’t understand, but I’m trying, and I think I’ve made a step forward in that regard.” Check out the full interview and article here.
       
    • I spoke with Capitals coach Scott Murray recently on Samsonov and the language barrier. “He actually did a really good job this summer,” Murray said. “He stayed in the US and did a really good job bridging that gap and then obviously we’ve made it a point and he’s made it a point that he wants to continually get better at the English language so that we can communicate because when you can communicate it’s way easier to teach, it’s way easier for him to learn and be engaged.”
       
    • Vanecek got his first win of the season on Wednesday and the Penguins made him earn it. He turned aside 40 shots in the effort, a new career-high for him.
       
    • Defenseman Tyler Lewington scored on Sunday against Rockford. It was his first goal since Nov. 11, 2017. You can see the replay of it here:  

    • Riley Sutter was named first star of the game on Saturday in Everett’s win over Kamloops in the WHL. He scored two goals and an assist to help lead Everett to the 7-2 victory.
       

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    Can Tom Wilson change the way he plays?

    Can Tom Wilson change the way he plays?

    On Thursday in New York, Tom Wilson will present his case to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and argue why he does not deserve the 20-game suspension handed down to him by the Department of Player Safety. Regardless of whether or not Bettman decides to reduce the suspension, there’s a larger question that now hangs over Wilson and one that will determine the direction his career goes from here.

    Can Wilson change his game?

    There is no question whether the hit he delivered to St. Louis Blue forward Oskar Sundqvist which earned him the suspension was illegal. The DoPS’s explanation video lays out why it was a bad hit. This is also Wilson’s fourth suspension in just 105 games meaning the next suspension will be even more severe.

    When you have to think about suspensions of more than 20 games, those are serious. They have serious consequences for both the team and the player.

    Like it or not, Wilson will have to change the way he plays. But can he?

    Can a player who has played a certain way his entire career, a player who made it to the NHL playing the way he does, simply change his game?

    “Every player can add different elements to their game,” Reirden said Tuesday when asked about Wilson. “I think it's a line that needs to be towed with him in regard to he has a physical element that is a difference maker for him and using him at the proper times and in the proper ways.”

    The team is not going to ask him to not be physical and, despite what Caps fans may think, neither will the league. The point is he needs to be smarter about when he is physical and make sure to keep his hits legal. That means playing smarter.

    The hit to Sundqvist was unnecessary. Wilson could have played the stick instead of going for the hit. The fact that it also came in the preseason is significant as well. At that point, he should not even be thinking about delivering a big hit to anyone because it is a meaningless game.

    Against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs last season, Wilson is headed to the bench for a line change, but turns to deliver a hit to Zach Aston-Reese. That hit ended up breaking Aston-Reese’s jaw and resulted in a three-game suspension for Wilson. He could have simply gone to the bench and the entire situation could have been avoided.

    Wilson absolutely can be a successful player if he plays smarter. He is not on the top line because of his hitting, he is there because he is a good skater with offensive skill who can win board battles with his physical play. The hits are just one aspect of his game, but he is a much more dynamic player than his detractors give him credit for.

    But there’s no denying part of what makes him successful is being a good hitter. Reirden knows that and doesn’t want that aspect to be taken out of Wilson’s game completely.

    “To expect him to go out there and not finish anymore checks is not going to be very effective either,” Reirden said. “We're working towards a good product for him so he can continue to be back in our team. He's such an important piece to what we do here. We want to have him back as quick as we can and then we want to keep him in the lineup so we'll be discussing that further after things are done.”


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