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Neuvirth completes deal, supports Ovechkin

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Neuvirth completes deal, supports Ovechkin

It took a few days to finalize the deal, but Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth is now an official member of Sparta Praha of the Czech League.

The club announced Neuvirths signing on its website, along with an interview with the 24-year-old native of Usti Nad Labem.

Neuvirth told the teams website that he began negotiating with Sparta shortly after the NHLs lockout began on Saturday and that the talks extended through the week because of conditions of insurance.

NHL players have been negotiating with European clubs to insure the amounts of their NHL contracts. Neuvirth is in the final year of a contract with the Capitals that would have paid him 1.15 million in 2012-13.

Neuvirth played for Sparta as a teenager from 2003-06 and was drafted by the Caps in the second round of the 2006 NHHL draft 34th overall. He said he considered playing for other teams in the Czech League, but returning to Sparta was a matter of the heart.

In the interview, translated below by Google Translator, Neuvirth says NHL owners set the conditions to which the players can not accept and fears it may take a long lockout to settle the differences between the two sides.

Neuvirth also supported Alex Ovechkins tough stand against the NHLs owners and that he would consider remaining in Russia if the players are forced to take significant pay cuts. However, Neuvirth added, I think that the Ovi certainly return.

Below is the Google translation of the interview:

When after the official announcement of closure, it was clear that you will get on for Sparta?
I can say that from about the 15th September. Then were discussing conditions of insurance.

I suppose you during his time in the NHL accustomed to travel, and it is about half way across the world demanding, especially when the next morning absolvuje first training ...
I certainly was very tired, I just arrived yesterday. I do not like to travel, it was very difficult. In addition, yesterday I waited a long time in Amsterdam, I arrived yesterday in the afternoon, plus I hardly slept at night.

On the ice, but you still end up as the last ...
It's true, but it is looking forward to a hot shower, rest longer necessarily need. (smile)

There was a possibility that you nenastupoval for Sparta, but in another club? Preferential rights to Sparta you had ...
So I've had some offers, but Sparta is a privilege for me to clear, for Sparta I wanted to play as a small child, in addition to her I have only the best memories. I spent three great years in youth, Sparta is for me a matter of the heart.

The NHL lockout has occurred as we know, how do you see the current situation, what is your view on it?
Sure, I'm sorry, I know it's a crucial year for me, at the end of this season my contract expires. I am very sorry that he is not playing, it's just big business. Some say that it will play for two months, someone that omits th ... I let it run its course.

The owners of the NHL and the NHLPA Gaming Association has so far failed to agree on a new collective agreement and it still does not seem that the situation should change rapidly. Which of the two "opposing" parties in the negotiations under more you try to move, or who is on the contrary a "brake"?
So I think that the owners set the conditions to which the players can not accept. I expect to come out of their sleven requirements. Otherwise, it may take a long lockout.

What is your estimate of the duration of the lockout?
So the whole time I thought NHL normally begins. Unfortunately, I was wrong, since we do not resolve it too. At Sparta, however, looking forward, it's another experience for me in my career.

Your teammate and maybe the best hockey player currently from Washington Capitals - Alexander Ovechkin said that if the players greatly touched on salaries, so that many of them may not return to the Canadian-American competition. You know him from the car, do you think this potential situation real future?
I am only glad that he said the "full mouth." He's not the only one who opened his mouth at the NHL, these are now more. It is good that players are not afraid of open criticism, Alex said it just as well. But I think that the "Ovi" certainly return.

You create in Sparta goalkeeper Marek Schwarz with a pair of what the job will be yours?
Marek is the leader of the team, no one knows how long I'll be here, I let it happen. vra is a great goalie, I think it will create a great goalie tandem.

In Europe, this week began Football League, you watch it? Do you have it in your favorite team?
Certainly the Champions League likes to watch, my favorite team is FC Barcelona.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS: