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Oates sees potential in Sjogren

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Oates sees potential in Sjogren

The Capitals had big expectations for Mattias Sjogren when they signed him to a two-year, $1.8 million free-agent contract in the summer of 2011.
 
The 6-foot-2, 214-pound center was coming off a strong showing with Sweden in the World Championships and Capitals general manager George McPhee believed Sjogren could compete for the role of third- or fourth-line center.
 
But when Mathieu Perreault outplayed Sjogren in last year’s training camp, Sjogren began the season in Hershey and abruptly walked out on the team on Nov. 30, returning to Sweden.
 
McPhee didn’t take kindly to Sjogren’s decision, saying, “If you’re going to quit on us you might as well go.”
 
Today, Sjogren is back in Hershey, trying to prove to interim head coach Adam Oates that he belongs in the NHL. Through four games Sjogren has one goal on four shots and is a minus-2.
 
“I can see what people like about him and I can see he wants it,” Oates said of the 24-year-old Swede. “He wants to improve. He’s a big body. He needs to learn a couple things about the game and hopefully we have time to pass it along, but there’s a lot of potential there.”
 
Oates said that for someone his size, Sjogren could be better in the faceoff circle and that he hopes to spend some time working with him in that area.
 
Oates also said he’d like to see a little more from top forward prospect Stan Galiev, who has one assist, no goals on six shots and is a minus-2 in his first four games as a pro. Galiev, 20, was taken by the Caps in the third round of the 2010 draft [86th overall] and led the Quebec League with 34 points in 17 playoff games last spring.
 
“There are moments I’d like to see more, but he’s still a very a young kid in a new environment,” Oates said. “The pace of play is a little more physical than he’s used to.
 
“People don’t understand that quite enough. When you get traded or when you go to a new city, there are a lot of other factors that contribute before a guy plays good hockey. I didn’t play good hockey until my fifth year pro, until I got to St. Louis.”
 
For the record, Oates managed “just” 245 points in his first 280 games as a pro. And after arriving in St. Louis and being introduced to Brett Hull he notched 286 points in 195 games with the Blues. He finished his NHL career with 1,420 points, 16th on the NHL’s all-time list and enough to get him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 12 in Toronto.
 
 

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

On Friday, the Capitals shipped out Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to clear space on the salary cap for John Carlson's massive contract extension.

On Sunday night, Carlson signed on the dotted the line. 

The 28-year-old became the latest core Cap to sign a long-term deal, inking an eight-year extension that will carry an $8 million average salary. 

His cap hit is now the second highest on the team—behind Ovechkin’s $9.538 million charge and just ahead of Kuznetsov’s $7.8 million hit.

With Carlson locked up, the defending Stanley Cup champion now has the majority of its core signed through at least the 2019-20 season. Among the players with at least two years remaining on their deals are forwards Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nickas Backstrom and Lars Eller, defensemen Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Braden Holtby.

The Carlson news did not come as a surprise.

The Caps wanted to keep him. Carlson, who makes his offseason home in Washington, wanted to stay with the club that drafted him 27th overall in 2008. And on Friday night in Dallas, GM Brian MacLellan all but guaranteed that a deal was going to happen when he said, “We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

It ended up taking a little more than 24 hours, but in the end MacLellan got his D-man.

“John has been an exceptional and consistent player for our franchise and has blossomed into being one of the top defensemen in the NHL,” said MacLellan in a statement on Sunday. “Defenseman like John are a rare commodity in our League and, at 28 years of age, we feel he is just entering his prime.”

Indeed, Carlson notched a career-high 15 goals and 53 assists last season, and his 68 points led all NHL defensemen. He also became the eighth defensemen in Caps’ history to record 60 points in a season and the first since Mike Green accomplished the feat in 2009-10. Meanwhile, Carlson’s average ice time (24:47) also marked a career high.

“As a right-handed defenseman, John plays in all key situations and has contributed greatly to our team’s success on the special teams,” MacLellan added. “We are pleased for both parties to have come to an agreement and for him to continue his great career as a Washington Capital.”

With Carlson under contract, the Caps now have a little more than $13 million in cap space underneath the $79.5 million ceiling, according to www.capfiendly.com. Michal Kempny, Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson and Jakub Jerabek are all unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

Carlson’s also signing kicks off a big week for MacLellan.

In addition to negotiating with the free agents he hopes to retain, he’s expected to have a formal interview with associate coach Todd Reirden, who is the leading candidate to replace Barry Trotz as head coach.

So buckle up, there figure to be a few more important announcements in the coming days.

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

Free agency does not start until July 1, but John Carlson's agent is already taking calls from other interested teams.

The interview period began at 12 a.m. on Sunday morning, which means teams are now able to reach out to any potential free agents, but no contracts can be signed until July 1. While Brian MacLellan said Friday that a new deal with Carlson to keep him in Washington was "really close," Carlson's agent, Rick Curran, has made it clear there was no deal in place yet as of Sunday.

So does this mean Carlson now has one foot out the door?

Not necessarily.

At this point in the negotiation, Carlson has a major advantage and that advantage is time. Sunday's interview period is just another way to hold the Caps' feet to the fire. The closer we get to July 1, the more pressure the team is under to get a deal done.

But the Caps still have some leverage too.

“I love it here and all that,” Carlson said during on breakdown day. “I want to stay here, but there's more to it than that.”

By rule, as his current team, the Caps are the only team that can offer Carlson an eight-year deal.

So Carlson may have turned up the heat a few degrees on the Caps, but it's not time for fans to worry just yet.

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