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Capitals GM MacLellan talks Holtby contract, future

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Capitals GM MacLellan talks Holtby contract, future

Shortly after reaching an agreement on a five-year, $30.5 million contract for 25-year-old goaltender Braden Holtby, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan joined a conference call with reporters to discuss the arbitration process, his thoughts on Holtby, and how today’s signing impacts the future of restricted free agent Marcus Johansson.

Here are some highlights from the conference call:

On what led to an agreement before an arbitrator’s ruling:

I think the arbitration process kind of forced both parties to look differently at how they were viewing the valuation part. It became a little easier to negotiate the final number after that process. The arbitration process for the goalies, I think, is a difficult one because there are limited comparables and some of the contracts are a little awkward and some (like Sergei Bobrovsky’s four-year, $29.7 million extension) are signed in midseason. It’s hard to get an apples-to-apples comparison. I think we were kind of close, we got apart, and then the arb process helped solidify numbers for both parties.

On why the contract is structured with Holtby earning $6.5 million next season ($3.5 million base salary, $3 million signing bonus), $7 million in Years 2 and 3, and $5 million in Years 4 and 5:

Their side wanted to front-load it a bit. That was a request by them, a priority of theirs, and we accommodated them in that way.

On the value of Holtby to the Capitals:

He’s a big part of it. You see what he accomplished last year and the affect he had on our team. He’s a perfect fit for what we think we have. He fits well with his teammates. He fits well with the defensemen. The coaches like him. He’s a good teammate, a good person and I think he’s just touching the surface of what he can become. I mean, he’s a 25-year-old goalie that’s just starting to get to the level. I know he has the right attitude and the right work ethic. Obviously we think we have a chance to win a championship with him. We committed to him for five years. I think the certainly of having him in our lineup over the next – whatever window we have    to win a championship – is why we’re excited about signing him today.

On if Holtby’s game is at a level comparable to other goalies making similar money (he ranks seventh in average salary):

I don’t know if I’d call it elite. It’s above average, definitely. I mean, he’s top 10 in wins (41) and goals-against (2.22) and save percentage (.923) and shutouts (9). I think he has potential to be top five, top two.

On if the two sides were set on five years:

Yeah, I think. We went there right away. At times we were looking at four-year deals and six-year deals. It went back and forth. Five was a number in between and both parties felt comfortable with it.

On concerns it would go to a ruling on Saturday:

I don’t know about concerned. I think we were comfortable with where we had him values. We were OK with taking a one-year deal. Our preference was the five years, but it was important for us to get a number that worked for us for five years.

On Holtby playing a club record 73 games last season:

Obviously, it proved he can handle a workload, which is a challenging thing. I think his ability to handle that workload, the ability to compete at that level. The way he handled the playoffs, I think he turned it up a notch and took his game to another level. I think everything that’s gone on this past season solidified our confidence in him to give him a five-year deal.

On Holtby’s development over the years, from a fourth-round draft pick in 2008 (93rd overall) to a No. 1 goalie:

I think he’s been pretty consistent in what he’s done. He’s always been competitive in more of a quiet way, a work ethic way. You can tell it matters to him. He’s a good team guy. All the values he shows now he’s always had. I think there’s probably been some inconsistencies, and I think there’s also been some inconsistencies with our team, too, that affect what’s gone on with him. He’s been a big part of what we’ve had going on both good and bad through the years. Like I said, he’s 25 years old and he continues to get better.

On, with $4.2 million in cap space, what he anticipates with Marcus Johansson, who has an arbitration hearing set for Wednesday in Toronto:  

Same sort of process. As we get closer and both parties go through their arbitration process, I think you get a better feeling for the value of the player. Hopefully we can come to an agreement before then but again, we’re willing to go through the whole process and keep negotiating. I think (contract talks) are status quo from last time.

MORE CAPITALS: Holtby gave up short-term money for long-term security

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Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: Are the stars aligning for another Capitals Cup run?

Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: Are the stars aligning for another Capitals Cup run?

Let’s get one thing straight: There are no easy roads to a Stanley Cup. Capitals fans know that better than most after seeing their team dominate the regular season just to get upset in the first or second round of the playoffs for several years. Having said that, seeing Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Calgary and Winnipeg all lose in the first round, it seems like things are setting up very nicely for Washington.

The Caps should have one thing and one thing only on their minds on Monday and that is the Carolina Hurricanes. Washington still needs one more win to advance and they should not catch themselves looking ahead to possible future matchups.

But we can look ahead.

The top seeds in both conferences have been eliminated in the first round for the first time. Long-time nemesis Pittsburgh is out. Either Boston or Toronto will soon be joining them plus there is a possibility that both Nashville and San Jose could still lose as well.

This is not meant to discount any of the teams the Caps could still play. Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders swept the Penguins and earned a spot in the second round. He has proven his worth as a coach and his team is going to be incredibly tough for anyone to score on, let alone beat. The Columbus Blue Jackets jumped out to a 2-0 series lead on Washington last season and got better this year as they showed Tampa Bay with a four-game sweep. Whoever comes out of the West no doubt will be a great team as well.

But if you were to draw up the best-case scenario for the Caps through the first round, having Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Calgary and Winnipeg all lose would likely be part of that scenario.

The Cup is truly up for grabs. This is true every year in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but it is especially true this year. If the Hurricanes find a way to win Game 6 and shock the Caps in Game 7, we are going to look back at this season as a missed opportunity considering the number of contenders ousted in the first round.

SEE THIS WEEK’S STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF POWER RANKINGS HERE

Here are a few recent observations and thoughts on the Caps.

  • The Caps are, at their core, a physical team. That is how they ultimately find success and they went away from that earlier in the series, especially in Games 3 and 4. When they reestablished it in Game 5, they blew the Hurricanes away. Any team can play well for one game. Any team can respond after losing a really good player for one game. The real test is to see how they play in Raleigh where they were beaten so thoroughly and the offense was held to only a single power play goal and zero 5-on-5 production.
  • If you want to know why physical play still matters in today’s NHL, watch Brett Connolly’s Game 5 goal again. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton is in a footrace with Alex Ovechkin to get the puck behind Carolina’s net and he completely gives up on the play. He does not go into the boards and put himself in a position to get checked by Ovechkin. It looked like he thought the play would be called icing, but if you’re not 100-percent sure you need to get to that puck even if it means taking a hit. Hamilton looked like he wanted no part of that which allowed Ovechkin to get the puck and set up a goal.
  • The Caps may finally have settled on defensive pairings. The defense has been a work in progress ever since Michal Kempny’s injury, but Todd Reirden may have finally found three pairs he can stick with. After making his playoff debut in Game 4, Jonas Siegenthaler played on the top defensive pair with John Carlson on Saturday. We have seen Reirden mix and match his defensive pairs throughout games, but things stuck in Game 5 as Siegenthaler and Carlson played 11:19 together at 5-on-5. The most Carlson played with any other defenseman at 5-on-5 during the game was 51 seconds. I asked Reirden afterward if he felt he had found his top defensive pair and he remained non-committal saying he still would mix and match as needed depending on the situation, but the numbers speak for themselves. Siegenthaler is a defensively responsible player, he has not looked rattled at all by the forecheck and, perhaps most importantly, he’s a left-handed shot allowing Carlson to play on his natural right side. I like the look of this pair a lot.
  • Nick Jensen has had a rough series. In fact, it looks like it has been a rough transition from Detroit to Washington since he was acquired. That’s OK. Sometimes players take time to adjust to a new team and a new system, but because of that, it benefits the Caps more to have him play on the third pair than the top, especially if moving him up means playing with Carlson on the left. That’s a lot to ask. With Siegenthaler up top, Jensen moved back down to the third pair on Saturday and it was easily his best game of the series. Pairing him with Brooks Orpik allows Jensen to step more into the offense, an area of the game in which his skills are greatly underrated. Jensen looked good on both ends of the ice in Game 5 and was particularly strong on the penalty kill. He can be a top-four defenseman, but I am not sure he is ready for that type of role in Washington yet. He is a definite asset on the third pair, however, and he showed that on Saturday.

The Caps are one win away from advancing to the second round. Here is where they stand among the other playoff teams in this week’s Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings.

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NHL Playoffs 2019: Capitals at Hurricanes Game 6 How to watch, streaming, TV channel, time

NHL Playoffs 2019: Capitals at Hurricanes Game 6 How to watch, streaming, TV channel, time

After capturing a dominant 6-0 victory over Carolina in a crucial Game 5 Saturday, the Washington Capitals seem to be getting back on track after dropping Games 3 and 4.

Washington now holds a 3-2 series lead and the chance to eliminate the Hurricanes in Game 6 on Monday. However, it'll be difficult to manage as they head back to PNC Arena, where they have yet to capture a victory this postseason.

Here's everything you need to know about Game 6. The puck drops at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

Capitals at Hurricanes Game 6 How to Watch:

What: 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Eastern Conference First Round. Game 6: Washington Capitals vs Carolina Hurricanes
Date: Monday, April 22, 2019
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
How To WatchStream pregame and postgame coverage Game 6 of Capitals vs. Hurricanes on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app or tune into NBC Sports Washington.
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan FM)

Don't already have the MyTeams By NBC Sports App? Click to download here and stream the Capitals-Hurricanes live!

Capitals at Hurricanes Game 6 TV Schedule:

NBC Sports Washington Daily TV Listing

NBC Sports Washington TV Schedule:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: Capitals vs. Hurricanes
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

Capitals at Hurricanes Game 6 Injury Report:

Capitals: Michal Kempny (torn hamstring, out for season), T.J. Oshie (broken clavicle, out)

Hurricanes: Micheal Ferland (upper-body, out), Jordan Martinook (upper-body, out)

Capitals at Hurricanes Game 6 Players to watch: 

Nicklas Backstrom, F, Capitals (5 G, 3 A, 8 P)

With a four-point night Saturday, Backstrom has proven to be an absolute force and hero in this series. He has five goals in five games against Carolina in this round and is expected to be even better with the stakes raised higher Monday.

Jaccob Slavin, D, Hurricanes (0 G, 5 A, 5 P)

The Hurricanes have their backs against the wall, and Slavin is someone who has to step up. He not only is one of their top blueliners, but he has been able to generate scoring chances with five assists in his last four games. Look out for him Monday.

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