Capitals

Quick Links

MacLellan's message to Caps fans: Win now

usatsi_8473833.jpg

MacLellan's message to Caps fans: Win now

If there is one thing we’ve learned about Brian MacLellan since he took over as Capitals general manager last summer it is this: He wants to win.

Now.

One year after addressing the Capitals’ blue line by signing Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen to exorbitant contracts totaling more than $67 million, and four months after sacrificing draft picks for Curtis Glencross and Tim Gleason at the trade deadline, MacLellan strengthened his forward group by signing right wing Justin Williams to a cap-friendly two-year, $6.5 million contract, then trading right wing Troy Brouwer, goaltender Pheonix Copley and a third-round pick in 2016 to the St. Louis Blues for right wing T.J. Oshie.

Brouwer, who will turn 30 next month, was entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $3.66 million. He recorded 21 goals and 22 assists, primarily in a second-line role with the Capitals, missing just one game in his four seasons in Washington. Brouwer had no goals in 14 playoff games last season and totaled just three goals in 35 playoff games with the Caps.

Oshie, 28, has two more years remaining on a contract that carries a cap hit of $4.175 million. He recorded 19 goals and 36 assists in St. Louis last season, splitting time between the first and second lines. In 30 career playoff games for the Blues he has five goals.

By adding Williams and Oshie and losing Brouwer, the Caps now have $13.89 million in cap space, according to www.generalfanager.com. If we stick with the premise that Braden Holtby will earn roughly $6 million in his new contract and Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson combine for roughly $6 million, the Caps would enter next season with about $2 million in cap space, a perfect cushion to account for injury call-ups and trade deadline acquisitions.

But the big question is this: Are the Caps better today than they were when they were eliminated by the New York Rangers in Game 7 on May 13?

My answer is “yes” at the forward position and “no” on the blue line.

If you ask me if I’d rather have Williams and Oshie over Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Eric Fehr, my answer is “yes.”

If you ask me if I’d rather have Nate Schmidt, Dmitry Orlov and Taylor Chorney over Mike Green and Tim Gleason, I’d take Green and Gleason.

But we all knew the Caps couldn’t afford Green at $6 million and Gleason battled injuries through the playoffs.

MacLellan admitted Thursday that Chorney is a “gamble” and he believes it’s one worth taking. We’ll see how that plays out, but if the Caps feel at some point during the season they need to add a more reliable defenseman, MacLellan should have the cap space to add one.

In short, the Capitals addressed their needs without busting their bank account and with Alex Ovechkin on the brink of turning 30, the time is now for the Caps to make some serious noise in the Eastern Conference next season. Agree? Disagree?

Take a look at the lineup below and feel free to play a little line juggling in the Comments section:

Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams

Marcus Johansson - Jay Beagle   - Tom Wilson

Jason Chimera – Michael Latta - Brooks Laich

Extras: Stan Galiev, Jakub Vrana, Riley Barber, Chris Brown, Travis Boyd

Defense pairings

Brooks Orpik – John Carlson

Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen

Nate Schmidt – Dmitry Orlov

Extras: Taylor Chorney, Connor Carrick, Madison Bowey, Aaron Ness, Christian Djoos, Tyler Lewington

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby – Philipp Grubauer

Extra: Justin Peters

 

Quick Links

D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

kampa.png
@tkopaintings on Twitter

D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

Local artist Taylor Kampa has taken her love for the Washington Capitals and turned it into works of art. 

You can find paintings done by Kampa of Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Braden Holtby on display at Circa Chinatown – a restaurant neighboring Capital One Arena – along with other D.C. celebrities.

A professional artist for the last decade, Kampa told NHL.com that the pictures were "passion projects," and took about eight hours to finish. She became a fan of the Caps after she began dating her now-husband back in 2009.

Her work has even caught the eye of The Great Eight. After posting a video to Instagram of her painting Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner liked and commented on it. 

"I almost died," Kampa said.

"It has been amazing sharing something that I am excited about that resonates with the people in my city," Kampa said. "I've been painting these portraits for a long time, so it's awesome to have them seen by so many people."

Kampa will also create paintings for the Capitals foundation's annual Casino Night fundraiser next year. 

MORE CAPS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Who will be the team's primary fourth line center?

With the departure of Jay Beagle, there is a spot open at center on the fourth line. There appears on the roster to be three clear candidates to fill that position: Chandler Stephenson, Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd.

To find out why you should cross Stephenson’s name off the list, you should read yesterday's Key Caps Question about whether or not Stephenson is a wing or a center. To summarize, Washington sees Stephenson as more of a wing which explains why they both re-signed Boyd and brought in Dowd.

So who will it be between those two?

Both players seem to fit the mold as effective centers in the AHL where they were both productive. Dowd has an edge in NHL experience with 131 NHL games as compared to Boyd’s eight.

But Barry Trotz clearly had faith in Boyd at center which is why we saw him fill in on the top line on March 18 in Philadelphia. Boyd rewarded that faith with a spin pass to Alex Ovechkin for an assist, his first career point.

Trotz is now gone and Todd Reirden is in charge, but there is at least a level of familiarity there with the coaching staff and Boyd, more so than with Dowd who is new to the organization.

Second, the Caps may have tipped their hand a bit when you compare the two contracts. Center is an important position and Brian MacLellan has frequently referenced the team’s strength in center depth as a major reason for their Cup run.

Both Boyd and Dowd were signed over the offseason. Both contracts are one-way, suggesting both will be in the NHL, but Boyd’s cap hit is $800,000 while Dowd’s is $650,000. Of course, that will not matter when the players get on the ice. If Dowd outplays Boyd, he will start over him. Plus, the market ultimately dictates price. Even if the Caps wanted Dowd for their top line, if you can get him for $650k, you sign him for $650k.

Considering how important a position center is, however, even on the fourth line, it seems telling that the team was willing to give Boyd, a player with eight games of experience to his name, $800k while Dowd was signed for the minimum. That seems to suggest the Caps at least foresee Boyd having a bigger role which, for two players penciled in for the fourth line, would mean playing him at center.

Other key Caps questions: