Capitals

Quick Links

No mocking: A look at Capitals' draft plan

677878.png

No mocking: A look at Capitals' draft plan

PITTSBURGH -- For better or for worse, before the end of tonight George McPhee will have shaped the future of the Capitals, if not with a new head coach then certainly with a draft pick or two.

While reports of Adam Oates moving ahead of Mike Haviland and Jon Cooper circulated in the hours before the NHL draft 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network, McPhee and his amateur scouts were busy putting the finishing touches on their draft list.

The Caps own the 11th and 16th picks of tonights draft, which is top-heavy with defensemen. Because of that, many draftniks have the Caps going for a blue liner with their 11th pick and a scoring forward at No. 16.

Seems like a sound strategy for a team that already has a stable of young defensemen but is short on high-end forwards.

So, assuming McPhee does not trade away his two picks, whom might the Caps select at No. 11 and No. 16.

At No. 11, here are a few options:

Matt Dumba, D, Red Deer WHL
The 6-foot, 183-pounder was named WHL Rookie of the Year after scoring 15 goals and adding 11 assists in 62 games. Described as a fearless hitter who can impact the game with his speed and offensive skills.

Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland WHL
The 6-foot, 181-pounder cranked out 59 points in 72 games and added 17 points in 22 playoff games. Described as a smart, composed defenseman who can play well at both ends of the rink but could use some more nastiness.

Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton WHL
The son of former NHL defenseman Paul Reinhart, Griffin is one of the biggest blue liners in the 2012 draft class at 6-foot-4, 202 pounds. Hes also one of the most physical and many believe hes just a year or two from being a dominant presence on an NHL power play and penalty kill. In his second year in Edmonton, Griffin had 12 goals, 24 assists and 38 penalty minutes in 58 games.

Jacob Trouba, D, U.S. Development Program
At 6-2, 193 pounds, Trouba might be the grittiest of all the high-end defensive prospects and although he wont light the lamp like Pouliot, he could turn out to be one of the most reliable two-way defenders of the draft.

Olli Maata, D, London OHL
Listed at 6-2, 198, Maata played for the London Knights last season and that could tip the scales in his favor with the Capitals. An all-round defenseman who uses his size well, Maata can lug the puck up the ice as well as any defenseman in the draft and plays a consistent game. A concussion late in the season could raise some concerns.

And at No. 16, here are a few more options.

Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener OHL
At 6-foot-3, 202 pounds many see the Czech center as a first- or second-line power forward who uses his body well to shield the puck and create offense. Hes been compared favorably to Rookie of the Year finalist Gabriel Landeskog.

Sebastien Collberg, RW Frolunda Sweden
A Swedish speedster, Collberg is often linked to the Capitals because of his comparisons to Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom. Hes not small 5-foot 11, 176 pounds but his greatest asset is his quickness and speed and he is very solid in his defensive zone. He he;ped lead Sweden to gold in the World Juniors.

Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque USHL
Perhaps no one in the draft holds more intrigue than this 6-foot-2, 200-pound Latvian. He played for former NHLer Jim Montgomery, who compared his work ethic to Rod BrindAmours. With those kind of credentials, if Girgensons is still around at No. 16, the Caps should grab him.

Quick Links

Capitals Mailbag Part 1: How the Matt Niskanen trade sets up the rest of the Caps’ offseason

niskanentraded.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Capitals Mailbag Part 1: How the Matt Niskanen trade sets up the rest of the Caps’ offseason

It’s time for a new Capitals mailbag! Check out Part 1 below.

Have a Caps question you want to be answered the next mailbag? Send it on Twitter using #CapsMailNBC or by email to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com.

Please note, some questions have been edited for clarity.

There usually is no rush in re-signing restricted free agents since teams own their rights. Having said that, I thought the deal for Jakub Vrana would get done quickly so that Brian MacLellan would know how much money he had to work with under the cap. It would make sense for Vrana too because, with every signing, there is less money for him. Yet, we are still waiting.

This issue may get a little complicated with reports saying the salary cap could actually be lower than initially expected. Still, that probably does not affect Vrana’s final number, it just affects how much money the Caps will have to spend on other players. Whatever moves MacLellan still wants to make, he will have to leave enough room to get Vrana re-signed. I expect this deal to get done soon after the cap is finalized, but long before July 1.

As for Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby, we could see a bit of momentum on the Backstrom front. Moving Niskanen did not just save cap room for this season, but for the following year. Gudas has only one year remaining on his contract while Niskanen had two. There is zero chance Holtby gets extended this summer, however. With the expansion draft looming and goalie Ilya Samsonov as the team’s No. 1 prospect, all decisions regarding the team’s future in net will be on hold until we see how both players perform this season. If Samsonov looks ready to step into the NHL, it may ultimately not make sense to re-sign Holtby at all. That’s just the reality of the business.

Darren L. writes: With the trade of Matt Niskanen for Radko Gudas and the subsequent signing of Carl Hagelin, do you think there is still a chance, however slim, that Brett Connolly can be re-signed?

Benjamin C. writes: Now that we’ve sign Carl Hagelin does that basically end Connolly’s time in Washington?

Before the offseason, I was not sure it would be an either/or scenario between Hagelin and Connolly. When the realities of the salary cap set in, however, it seems pretty clear that re-signing Hagelin means Connolly’s tenure in Washington is over. The one caveat is that I did not expect Hagelin’s cap hit to be under $3 million as I thought there would be a market for him in free agency. He wanted to stay, however and was willing to take less per year for term. Kudos to MacLellan for getting Hagelin’s cap hit down to $2.75 million.

Connolly is coming off a season in which he scored 22 goals in a third-line role and limited power play time. Hockey-Graphs projects him to get a deal worth just over $3.5 million per year. To me, I think he could get more than that. I am of the opinion that there will be teams out there willing to offer Connolly more money and a bigger role than what the Caps can which will make it hard to keep him. If the offers all end up in the $3.5 million range, however, Washington could potentially afford that. So there is a chance, more than I would have thought, of keeping Connolly at $3.5 million per year. That’s about the limit I think they could afford and if his price tag goes up, that will be the end of that.

Darren L. writes: I keep reading that the Caps are very aggressive in the trade market. Do you think that there is an under the radar move that we, as fans, don’t know about yet?

In his latest 31 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman listed Washington among one of the most aggressive teams in trade talks saying generally of the NHL “we could see some frenetic attempts to move up and down.”

Friedman also wrote, “Other teams believe the Capitals are in total ‘go for it’ mode.”

The Niskanen trade was one we all saw coming, maybe not for Radko Gudas, but Brian McNally and I have been saying pretty much since the offseason began that Niskanen was going to get traded. I also wrote Tuesday on why the Caps could be players at the draft to move from their 25th pick. Anything beyond that, whether it means bringing in someone or sending someone out, I think we could label as unexpected.

Sure, there are players like Andre Burakovsky who it would be a surprise but not be shocking to see moved. If the Caps are as big a trade player as Friedman reports, I think we could be looking at a surprise move especially considering they would have to ship out cap space to get someone of significance.

Tyler A. writes: With Brett Connolly likely leaving Washington, how can the Capitals add some more offensive power to the bottom six this off-season?

Good question and it is an important one as depth offense is one of the team’s biggest weaknesses. The Caps probably have enough cap room for one significant third-line signing in the $3-4 million range depending on the salary cap. They could probably get a Joonas Donskoi, Micheal Ferland type for that amount.

But it is also important to remember that the fourth line needs a boost as well. The team just did not seem to find the right combination for that bottom line. For most NHL caliber RFAs, there is usually little question as to whether they will be re-signed. For Washington, however, the questions needs to be asked if it makes sense to bring back Chandler Stephenson or Dmirij Jaskin when the offensive upside looks pretty limited. Do the Caps have enough money to go after free agent fourth liners like Noel Acciari or Brian Boyle? And then, of course, what do you do with Andre Burakovsky and that leads to the next question….

Benjamin C. writes: Do you think we can get Andre Burakovsky back?

Eric C. writes: With the signing of Gudas and Hagelin what do you think this means for Burakovsky and his future in D.C.?

This depends on whether Burakovsky will be willing to sign for less than the $3.25 million the Caps would have to offer to qualify him. To me, there is definitely room for Burakovsky with the probable loss of Connolly. He can be an asset to the bottom-six so long as he gets paid like a bottom-six player.

After three straight seasons of scoring 12 goals, at this point, it is time to view and judge Burakovsky like a bottom-six player. We saw in the playoffs that he boosts the fourth line as he provides more talent than most teams see when facing an opponent’s fourth line. But you cannot afford to spend $3.25 million on a fourth line wing. That’s the key.

Bob C. writes: Why do you and some others maybe feel that Andre Burakovsky deserves to come back to the team? Myself and other fans feel he will never develop any more than what he has been.

“Deserve” has nothing to do with it. I have been pretty consistent in the fact that I think the Caps should bring Burakovsky back only if they can get him for less than what it would take to qualify him. That is too much for a player who has been plagued by injuries and inconsistent play throughout his career and who has scored 12 goals in each of the past three seasons.

With Connolly likely on his way out, that’s 22 goals coming off the third line. Washington’s bottom-six accounted for five goals in seven games in the playoffs. That’s not enough. In this day and age, you need players who can produce on the third and fourth lines. Burakovsky provides a dangerous offensive option in the bottom six, his skill set still has a high ceiling and the team is running out of options and cap space to improve depth scoring.

Lower the bar for Burakovsky and assume he is a bottom-six producer at this point. If he exceeds that expectation, great. If not, well then you paid a bottom-six forward a bottom-six salary.

Thanks for all your questions! Part 2 of the mailbag will be coming on Thursday. If you have a question you want to be read and answered in the next mailbag, send it to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com or use #CapsMailNBC on Twitter.

Quick Links

Capitals' National Anthem singer Caleb Green auditions on America's Got Talent

calebgreen.png
YouTube.com/@America'sGotTalent

Capitals' National Anthem singer Caleb Green auditions on America's Got Talent

If you've been to a Caps game, you've definitely heard the incredible voice of Caleb Green singing the National Anthem.

Behind his impassioned voice is an undeniable patriotism, as Green is a retired Master Sergeant of the United States Army.

Beloved by Caps fans, Green decided to take his talents to the biggest stage in the world: America's Got Talent (AGT).

"Voices of Service" is an acapella group comprised of Green and three other servicemen and woman that have found music as a way to provide music therapy to servicemen and women suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Tuesday night on AGT, Green and the "Voices of Service" delivered an incredible acapella rendition of Katy Perry's "Rise," resulting in a standing ovation from the crowd and a resounding "YES" from the judges to advance to Hollywood.

 

The Washington Capitals gave their own shout out to Green following his performance.

As did Capitals commentator, Craig Laughlin.

America's Got Talent airs on NBC Tuesday nights at 8 p.m.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS