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With Johansson signed, are the Caps done making moves?

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With Johansson signed, are the Caps done making moves?

Re-sign key free agents? Check.

Find a top-line right wing? Check.

Bring in more playoff experience? Check.

Now with Marcus Johansson re-signed, the Capitals' offseason checklist is complete. The team did everything they set out to do, but are they finished?

According to generalfanager.com, the Caps currently have just under $460,000 in cap space. That number, however, includes three goalies. One of those goalies, most likely Justin Peters, will be moved to AHL Hershey prior to the start of the season. If you take his $950,000 off the books, that gives the Caps just over $1.4 million of potential cap room they could still play with. There are always some surprises in camp and that number could end up being slightly different, but that is the general range.

RELATED: Caps get a good deal with Johansson contract

To determine if any late summer moves are on the horizon, let's examine the key questions general manager Brian MacLellan must ask before he bringing in any more players:

What do the Caps still need?

The biggest need heading into the summer was a top-line right wing. They now have two potential candidates in Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie. Depending on how long Nicklas Backstrom is injured center could be a potential need, but players like Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson have all played center in the past and are capable of stepping in if necessary. The top four of the defense returns intact, but Mike Green and Tim Gleason are both gone. Dmitry Orlov, however, should finally be healthy and Nate Schmidt looks ready to be in the NHL full-time. Braden Holtby returns in net with either Philipp Grubauer or Justin Peters behind him. The Caps have even replaced goalie prospect Pheonix Copley who was part of the Oshie trade with the signing of veteran Dan Ellis. At this point, the only thing the Caps would be looking for is depth because you can never have enough depth.

Who is available?

As the draft has already come and gone, the trade market is pretty dry. Teams have already made the major moves they were planning to make. When looking at the free agent market in August, there's one very important thing to keep in mind: there's a reason why those players are still available. Having said that, there are some notable players still unsigned.

What can they afford?

The first thing fans need to keep in mind is that no general manager wants to spend right up to the cap. Teams need some cushion. Even though the Caps look like they have $1.4 million of room to work with, they would only actually feel comfortable spending considerably less. Don't expect to see the team free up any more cap space either. First, as explained above, barring something completely unexpected all major trades have already happened. The same things goes for buyouts. The buyout formula is complicated and teams actually end up saving a very minimal amount of money while also having cap space go to a player who is no longer on the team. Plus, teams won't buyout a player this late in the offseason out of fairness to the player. It's just not going to happen. If the Caps are still looking to buy, their cap space limits them to depth players only. If you're saying, ok, why not offer an unsigned player a contract at the NHL minimum ($575,000)? What have they got to lose? While beggars can't be choosers, NHL players (with an agent and a union) certainly can. Take for example, Daniel Briere (not that the Caps should or would be interested, this is just an example). Briere made $4 million last season. Would it be worth it to him to move to a new city and go through the rigors of another NHL season for $575,000? Probably not.

Looking at all three questions, the only thing the Caps would be interested in at this point is depth, but they cannot afford much more than the NHL minimum of $575,000. That essentially prices them out of most notable free agents and limits them to fringe NHL players who are not worth giving up a healthy cap cushion for.

The Caps managed to check off every box on their to-do list this summer. There's nothing left for MacLellan to do, but wait for training camp.

MORE CAPITALS: Arbitrator hands down ruling for Marcus Johansson

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How to watch the IIHF World Championship Finals: Date, Time, TV Channel, Lineups

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How to watch the IIHF World Championship Finals: Date, Time, TV Channel, Lineups

The 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship is coming to a close this Memorial Day weekend.

After two weeks, the sixteen team field has been narrowed down to four with the world championship now on the line in Slovakia. 

The two group winners, Canada, the top-ranked team in the world and 26-time IIHF Champions, and Russia, who rolled through the group stage with a 7-0 record and a +29 goal differential, are the favorites. Russia overwhelmingly has played like the best team in Slovakia, outscoring its opponents 40-10 behind Nikita Kucherov's 16 points in eight games.

The Russian/ Soviet Union team is the only team with more titles than the Canadians with 27 (five as Russia, 22 as the Soviet Union). 

Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin is playing for Team Russia. In eight games he's scored two goals and recorded an assist. 

Canada will face off against the Czech Republic, whose only loss came against the Russians in group play, with a spot to the Finals on the line. Russia will play Finland for the last spot in the gold medal match.

Three of the four teams remaining (Russia, Canda, and the Czech Republic) are the winningest teams in the IIHF's history. The four semifinalists have combined to win 67 of the 82 IIHF World Championships.

When is the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals?

The 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals will take place at 8:15 p.m. local time (2:15 p.m. ET) on Sunday, May 26. The bronze medal match will precede the gold medal match at 3:45 p.m. local time (9:15 a.m. ET). 

2019 IIHF World Championship Schedule:

There are only four matches left in the 2019 IIHF World Championship. The two semifinals, the bronze medal match, and the gold medal match.

SEMIFINALS:
No. 3 Russia vs. No. 5 Finland, 9:15 a.m. ET, May 25
No. 1 Canada vs. No. 6 Czech Republic, 1:15 p.m. ET, May 25

BRONZE MEDAL MATCH:
Loser of Semifinal No. 1 vs. Loser of Semifinal No. 2, 9:45 a.m. ET, May 26

GOLD MEDAL MATCH:
Winner of Semifinal No. 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal No. 2, 2:15 p.m. ET, May 26

How to watch or stream the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals:

All games at the IIHF World Championships will be broadcast on NHL Network.

Who is playing in the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals?

The 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals will be played between the winner of Russia (8-0-0)/ Finland (7-0-1) and Canada (7-1-0)/ Czech Republic (7-0-1).

Lineups for the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals:

Lineups for the 2019 IIHF Championship Finals will be announced on the morning of May 26. 

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The Blues turnaround from last place to the playoffs began with a blowout win over the Caps

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The Blues turnaround from last place to the playoffs began with a blowout win over the Caps

When the St. Louis Blues woke up on Jan. 3, they were in dead last in the NHL. A 15-18-4 record gave them 34 points, less than teams like the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators who would go on to finish the season as the two worst teams. Yes, St. Louis had played in only 37 games to that point, the fewest in the league, but finding a way to climb back into the playoff hunt seemed daunting and unlikely.

Now the Blues are the Western Conference champions and stand just four wins away from the Stanley Cup.

The Blues have been one of the best stories of the NHL season climbing from last place to the Stanley Cup Final. When looking back at St. Louis’ season, there are several moments one can point to as key moments in the turnaround. Craig Berube replaced Mike Yeo as head coach on Nov. 20 and goalie Jordan Binnington got his first start with the Blues on Jan. 7 and never gave back the crease.

But the turnaround really started on Jan. 3. On that morning, the Blues were in last place. That would be the last day they would find themselves there.

And it all started with a 5-2 win against the Washington Capitals.

On Jan. 3, St. Louis and Washington looked like two teams headed in opposite directions. While the Blues were in last place, the Caps were rolling with a 24-11-3 record, first in the Metropolitan Division. Washington came into St. Louis on a five-game road winning streak. As if that wasn’t enough, the Blues were also without sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.

And yet, what looked like an easy win for the Caps turned into anything but. Robert Thomas scored a deflection just four minutes into the game. Washington managed to take a 2-1 lead early in the second, but St. Louis rattled off four straight goals for the 5-2 win. With Washington down only 3-2 heading into the third period, the Blues but on a possession clinic outshooting Washington 14-2 in the final frame.

"We stayed aggressive," Alex Pietrangelo told reporters. "When we're playing in the O zone, the best way to play defense is to play in their end. We kept the puck, we moved the puck, we worked. Forwards were great tonight, protecting the center of the ice. It kind of took their playmakers out of the game."

The Caps’ first shot came 13 minutes into the third. By then, the Blues already had 12 shots and two goals.

Over the course of an 82-game season, teams will lose games against teams they shouldn’t. This felt different. Watching this game, you did not come away thinking the Caps played down to an inferior team. The Blues dominated that game and the Caps knew it.

“They were skating, competing harder, won races, more determined than we were,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “If we’re being honest about it, we didn’t have a very good game, and they played a pretty darn good game.”
More importantly, St. Louis realized it as well. They knew following the game that this was a win and a performance they could build on.

“I think we out-chanced them, so we're building here at even strength,” Pietrangelo said. “It's just a matter of keeping it at even strength and scoring goals. Tonight the goals weren't necessarily pretty but we created a lot of chances."
That night proved to be the first night of the turnaround. From Jan. 3 on, no team in the NHL earned more points than St. Louis’ 65, not even the Tampa Bay Lightning who won the Presidents’ Trophy with an incredible 128 points.

St. Louis was not expected to be bad this season. The team made a number of offseason moves to bolster the roster and many thought they could be real contenders, but they sure did not play like it through the first half of the season. It took a big win over the defending Stanley Cup champs to show them and everyone else just how good they really were. From that point on, they never looked back.

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