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Brouwer on trade to Blues: 'I had absolutely no clue'

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Brouwer on trade to Blues: 'I had absolutely no clue'

Before packing his bags for St. Louis, former Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer stopped at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Friday morning to say goodbye to coach Barry Trotz and the Capitals’ training staff and thank them for their time and efforts during his four-year stay in Washington, a stay that ended abruptly on Thursday when he was informed he had been traded to the Blues in a multi-player trade involving T.J. Oshie.

In an exclusive interview with CSNwashington.com, Brouwer discusses the shock of being traded, his time in Washington and the pressures of replacing a fan favorite in St. Louis:

On his original plans for the summer:

I’ve been here all summer. I left last weekend to go to Justin Peters’ wedding, but other than that I’ve been in town. With a baby on the way [a boy due Sept. 4 to join 2 1/2 year-old sister Kylie] we thought this summer, since we’ve moved every year, we’d stay in one spot, have the baby here and start the season. But it looks like we’ve got other plans now. We’re going to spend a couple weeks here while we look for a place there, but at some point we have to go out there and get Carmen an OB/Gyn, find a hospital, get situated, and in the beginning of August head out.

On hockey business getting in the way of family business:

Yeah, me and Carmen were talking about it last night. It’s tough to kind of pick up everything you know and all your friends and move on. From a player’s perspective it’s part of the business and we know that it could happen at any time. I give a lot of credit to Carmen. She knows what she signed up for when she got married to a hockey player. The certainty of being in one area for a long time is very rare. She knows this is all part of this and you have to take it in stride when it comes.

On the importance of stopping at Kettler to thank the coaching and training staffs:

For me it’s very important. Fans and outside people always see just the players and what they contribute to the team, but what gets overlooked a lot of times is those trainers. When we get off the planes and get to go home to our beds or to our hotel rooms those guys are always up a couple more hours unpacking and doing laundry and doing things that aren’t always the most fun things to do and you develop a great relationship with them because you see them all day every day at the rink. I wanted to thank those guys and wish them well and wish them the best. They’re friends. They’re not just people you work with and I hope those relationships continue even though I’m headed to St. Louis.

On if he was aware a trade was in the works:

I had absolutely no clue. I was talking to Barry in the morning while I was working out and we were talking about [Justin] Williams and how it was going to affect the team and how it was going to affect me within the team and the game plan going forward, whether we were going to try to pick up a few more players. As a player you always have an idea that something could arise, but I figured I was pretty well situated here and that I wasn’t really in play unless something came up that the team thought they couldn’t refuse. I was doing crafts, actually, with Kylie. I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. Normally, I don’t pick up those phone numbers. I figure if it’s important enough they’ll leave a voice mail. But I picked it up and right away I heard [Brian MacLellan’s] voice and I knew something was up. It’s exciting for me and I get to go to another really good hockey team and have a chance to succeed as a team and as an individual. It’s a good move forward, but I’m definitely going to miss what I had here in Washington.

On the parallels between the Capitals and Blues:

The teams aren’t exactly similar in their makeups, but the struggles they’ve had over the past couple of seasons, [unable to] break through in the playoffs. Similar situations but I haven’t followed them too terribly much because they’re out West, but it’s a team that has a lot of good elements, very well skilled, very well coached and play a good, tough, hard game. They’re just looking to try to get to the next level and hopefully, I can help them do that.

On replacing fan favorite T.J. Oshie and if he saw the video of the 5-year-old girl crying over his departure:

I did, it was heart-breaking. But I haven’t really thought too much about it. Fan favorites are created because he’s been around for a long time and he’s been a great player for their organization. But I’m not going in trying to fill Oshie’s shoes or be the fan favorite that he is. I want the fans to enjoy the way I play and how I carry myself as a person, but I want to be my own person, my own player, and have the fans cheer for me because of my style of play and what I do on and off the ice for the fans and in the community.

On how he would describe his four years in Washington:

It was great. When I got traded to Washington I had never been traded before, whether it was in junior or the NHL, so it was a new experience for me going to a new organization, seeing how things are done. You can see the parallels, the similarities and differences, and it was a lot of fun to come meet more new players, play in the East, expand and evolve your game and get better as a player. I was given so much responsibility and such a big role as far as power play, penalty kill, being a guy that’s looked up to by the young guys. I’m really thankful for everything the organization and city has done for me over the past four years. The community embraced me amazingly. Even my neighbors have been phenomenal for us. They look after the house and look after my family while I’m gone on trips. The fans have been phenomenal for me cheering me on every step of the way. Obviously, they’re going to be upset with players at certain times, but I hope the fans enjoyed watching me as much as I enjoyed playing in front of them.

 

MORE CAPITALS: MacLellan's message to Caps fans: Win now

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

On Friday, the Capitals shipped out Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to clear space on the salary cap for John Carlson's massive contract extension.

On Sunday night, Carlson signed on the dotted line. 

The 28-year-old became the latest core Cap to sign a long-term deal, inking an eight-year extension that will carry an $8 million average salary. 

His cap hit is now the second highest on the team—behind Ovechkin’s $9.538 million charge and just ahead of Kuznetsov’s $7.8 million hit.

With Carlson locked up, the defending Stanley Cup champion now has the majority of its core signed through at least the 2019-20 season. Among the players with at least two years remaining on their deals are forwards Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nickas Backstrom and Lars Eller, defensemen Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Braden Holtby.

The Carlson news did not come as a surprise.

The Caps wanted to keep him. Carlson, who makes his offseason home Washington, wanted to stay with the club that drafted him 27th overall in 2008. And on Friday night in Dallas, GM Brian MacLellan all but guaranteed that a deal was going to happen when he said, “We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

It ended up taking a little more than 24 hours, but in the end MacLellan got his D-man.

“John has been an exceptional and consistent player for our franchise and has blossomed into being one of the top defensemen in the NHL,” said MacLellan in a statement on Sunday. “Defenseman like John are a rare commodity in our League and, at 28 years of age, we feel he is just entering his prime.”

Indeed, Carlson notched a career-high 15 goals and 53 assists last season, and his 68 points led all NHL defensemen. He also became the eighth defensemen in Caps’ history to record 60 points in a season and the first since Mike Green accomplished the feat in 2009-10. Meanwhile, Carlson’s average ice time (24:47) also marked a career high.

“As a right-handed defenseman, John plays in all key situations and has contributed greatly to our team’s success on the special teams,” MacLellan added. “We are pleased for both parties to have come to an agreement and for him to continue his great career as a Washington Capital.”

With Carlson under contract, the Caps now have a little more than $13 million in cap space underneath the $79.5 million ceiling, according to www.capfiendly.com. Michal Kempny, Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson and Jakub Jerabek are all unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

Carlson’s signing kicks off a big week for MacLellan.

In addition to negotiating with the free agents he hopes to retain, he’s expected to have a formal interview with associate coach Todd Reirden, who is the leading candidate to replace Barry Trotz as head coach.

So buckle up, there figure to be a few more important announcements in the coming days.

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

Free agency does not start until July 1, but John Carlson's agent is already taking calls from other interested teams.

The interview period began at 12 a.m. on Sunday morning, which means teams are now able to reach out to any potential free agents, but no contracts can be signed until July 1. While Brian MacLellan said Friday that a new deal with Carlson to keep him in Washington was "really close," Carlson's agent, Rick Curran, has made it clear there was no deal in place yet as of Sunday.

So does this mean Carlson now has one foot out the door?

Not necessarily.

At this point in the negotiation, Carlson has a major advantage and that advantage is time. Sunday's interview period is just another way to hold the Caps' feet to the fire. The closer we get to July 1, the more pressure the team is under to get a deal done.

But the Caps still have some leverage too.

“I love it here and all that,” Carlson said during on breakdown day. “I want to stay here, but there's more to it than that.”

By rule, as his current team, the Caps are the only team that can offer Carlson an eight-year deal.

So Carlson may have turned up the heat a few degrees on the Caps, but it's not time for fans to worry just yet.

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