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Mike Green addresses his summer of uncertainty

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Mike Green addresses his summer of uncertainty

Mike Green sounded like someone who didn’t want his time in Washington to end, but had come to the realization it has.

Talking with the media on Friday at the Capitals’ annual breakup day, Green said he’d like to re-sign with the Caps as an unrestricted free agent but wondered if they will be able to afford to keep him as a third-pair defenseman who likely will command more than $6 million a year.

“Ten years now I’ve been with the organization and it’s hard to think of the uncertainty of this summer and what might happen,” Green said. “It’s probably a little scary at times for myself to think that anything could happen. But I’ve got to thank Washington for everything up to this point. It’s been quite the journey and we’ll see what happens.”

With long-term commitments to defensemen Matt Niskanen [6 more years, $5.75 million cap hit], Brooks Orpik [4 years, $5.5 million], John Carlson [3 years, $3.966 million] and Karl Alzner [2 years, $2.8 million], the Capitals are more likely to take Green’s current $6.083 million and put it toward resigning restricted free agents Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson.

“That’s the thing,” Green said. “They’ve got their challenges with what their vision is for their team and how certain players fit in or don’t fit in. At the end of the day they want to make their team the best they possibly can and for myself I want to be in a position to play on a competitive team and put myself in a position to win a Cup, too. There are a lot of factors that come into play that aren’t always made public, but the underlying thing is winning and that’s the bottom line, really.”

Green said he would consider taking less money to remain in Washington and plans to have an active role in negotiations with the Capitals and, if necessary, other NHL teams that may be interested if a deal with the caps cannot be made.

“I want to play a significant role,” said Green, whose average ice time dropped from 22:43 last season to 19:06 this season. “I feel like I can play top two for sure. This year I was paired on the third line and I took pride in every time I went on the ice to do my best and contribute to the team just like every other player did in the dressing room.”

In 10 seasons with the Capitals, Green has recorded 113 goals and 237 assists in 575 games and another nine goals and 26 assists in 71 playoff games. But, just like Alex Ovechkin, he has never played beyond the second round of the post-season.

Like many of the Capitals who spoke yesterday, he thought this would be the year.

“This was probably one of the most fun years I’ve had playing here,” Green said. “The things we were able to do this year and how far we came was incredible. It’s obviously unfortunate we’re not still playing.

“That’s the hardest part because we grew so much and we felt we could win. The bond we had this year was probably the strongest bond we’ve had. It’s sad to go away from it now, with the season ending. Everybody is sort of parting their own ways. That’s the tough part, and not being able to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish as far as winning a Cup. This organization is going to win a Cup, I believe it.”

Green took a pair of penalties in the second period of the Caps’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Rangers in Game 7 on Wednesday night, with the second, a cross-checking penalty against Dan Girardi, leading to Kevin Hayes’ game-tying power-play goal.   

“I thought the calls were a little soft,” Green said. “My opinion doesn’t really matter, to be honest.”

Green credited the Capitals’ coaching staff, notably Todd Reirden, for helping him becoming a more well-rounded defenseman and turning a minus-16 last season into a plus-15 this season.

“I thought this year was one of the most instrumental years for me developing as a player,” he said. “I’ve played 10 years now and it’s taken that to understand mentally and physically to get your game at a high level. I feel like my best years of hockey are ahead of me.”

In his 10 years in Washington, Green has developed strong friendships on the team, none stronger than the one he has with Nicklas Backstrom, who called him his closest friend on the team. Orpik, whose locker stall is beside Green’s, said he also developed a good relationship with the 29-year-old defenseman.

“I had a different perception of him than what he’s actually like,” Orpik said. “I look at him more as a person than as a hockey player. He’s just a really good guy to be around. His role probably shifted around a little bit as the season went on but he had a great attitude all year long. I don’t know if he knows it, but I probably learned a lot from him.”

Alzner said he’d like Green to return to the Caps, but if he doesn’t he wants him to find a place where he’s happy.

“Hopefully, it’s with us,” Alzner said. “He’s that good. Even though he was playing less minutes he means a lot to the team. Hopefully, it works out in our favor but at the same time I want all the players to be in the right spot for them and their families and get what they deserve.”

Green said his final decision on where he plays next season will not be based solely on money.

“Obviously, it’s nice and you want to be valued properly, but it’s not just about that for me,” he said. “It’s about putting myself in a position to win. We’ll see what happens. They’ve got a lot of work they’ve got to do this summer.”

[MORE: Caps' Trotz sees bright future]

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Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s matchup:

Region: Fourth line forwards

Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

 

2018-19 stats

 

Noel Acciari (27 years old):72 games played with the Boston Bruins, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, 12:59 TOI

 

Playoffs: 19 games played with the Boston Bruins, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 13:10 TOI

 

Marcus Kruger (29 years old): 74 games played with the Chicago Blackhawks, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, 10:25 TOI

 

Playoffs: None

 

Hockey-Graph contract projections

 

Noel Acciari: 2 years, $1,180,934 cap hit

 

Marcus Kruger: 1 year, $861,030 cap hit

 

The case for Noel Acciari

Plays a lot bigger than his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame. A perfect fit at right wing on the fourth line for Washington. The native New Englander, who played at Providence, is a home-grown Bruin and might not want to leave home, but Boston also might not have the cap space to give an obvious fourth-line player a decent raise. The Capitals might not, either, but for now, they really only have to add in RFA Jakub Vrana’s new contract and figure out what they’re going to do with RFA Andre Burakovsky. 

 

Acciari is renowned for his character and toughness. He was a college captain for Providence and helped the Friars win an NCAA title in 2015. There’s never been a shot he’s unwilling to block. Acciari sustained a broken sternum in the second round against Columbus and a blocked shot with his right foot in Game 7 of the Cup Final left him in a walking boot.  

 

Acciari’s offensive upside is limited, but he did have 10 goals in 2017-18. He was a key player for the Bruins in the past two Stanley Cup playoffs and chipped in two goals in this year’s playoff run that came within a game of a championship. Acciari would help on Washington’s penalty kill, too. In 111:52 he was only on the ice for 11 power-play goals against. Only two Boston forwards were on the ice more short-handed.  

 

The case for Marcus Kruger

 

A different skill set here for the smaller Kruger (6-foot, 186 pounds). Don’t expect even double-digit goals from him, either. But Kruger will likely cost less than $1 million and can be a valuable penalty killer, where Washington needs help. That’s huge for a team that is now dealing with an $81.5 million salary cap, which is $1.5 million less than expected. Add in the overage bonus for defenseman Brooks Orpik from last season and you’re in trouble at just over $80 million.   

 

Kruger played seven seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and one disappointing one with the Carolina Hurricanes. Kruger has plenty of Stanley Cup experience, too, playing for Chicago’s 2013 and 2015 Cup winners. He has 87 postseason games and a triple-overtime game-winner in the Western Conference Final to his name in 2015 in Game 2 of that series against Anaheim. 

 

A defensive specialist, only two Blackhawks forwards played more short-handed minutes than Kruger (132:46) last season. There is risk here. Kruger was traded to Carolina in 2017-18, but was placed on waivers after 48 games and spent the rest of the season in the AHL before being traded to Arizona and then back to Chicago. But part of that stemmed from how much he was making on a $3.08 million cap hit. At a bargain-basement price, Kruger is more palatable. 

 

Who’s your pick? Vote here.

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Ted Leonsis reflects on Capitals' induction to D.C. Sports Hall of Fame

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NBC Sports Washington

Ted Leonsis reflects on Capitals' induction to D.C. Sports Hall of Fame

Click "play" in the embedded podcast to listen to the Capitals Talk Podcast interview with Ted Leonsis and click here to subscribe to the podcast.

Just as the party seems to be ending, the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals are finding new ways to celebrate.

Sunday at Nationals Park, the Caps were honored with the "team of distinction" award in the D.C. sports hall of fame, the first-ever award of its kind.

“I think it just shows how this team connected with the fans and as many people have noted, this is one of the most divided cities in the world," Caps majority owner and president of Monumental Sports, Ted Leonsis said to Rob Carlin on the Capitals Talk podcast. "People can’t agree on anything, but they agreed on how much they loved, and how much fun they had and how proud they were that we won the Stanley Cup."

Founded in 1980, the D.C. sports hall of fame honors athletes, sports journalists and executives each year for excellence in D.C. sports. 2019 was the first time an entire team was formally recognized, fitting for the first-ever Stanley Cup championship in D.C.

"It [the honor] is a good capstone on that run," Leonsis said.

Listen to the full episode linked below.

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