Alex Ovechkin was disappointed at the end of last season, like anyone would be after not winning a championship, but this year Ovi is setting his sights higher as he is ready to begin a new season.
Friday's trade with the Colorado Avalanche seemed to mark the end of Brooks Orpik's time with the Washington Capitals. But that may not actually be the case.
Trading away Orpik also meant trading away his $5.5 million cap hit. That is not an insignificant amount of money especially for a team trying to re-sign defenseman John Carlson to a big-money contract.
But Orpik will not be playing out the final year of his contract in Colorado. The Avalanche placed Orpik on unconditional waivers Saturday for the purpose of a buyout, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.
So why would Colorado agree to take Orpik just to buy him out and take on dead cap space? Because by acquiring him, it lowered the cost of the Grubauer trade.
COL is going to see if it can help Orpik land in a preferred spot. Whether it is a trade or a buyout, they are prepared to facilitate. By including him in the deal, they only had to give up one pick.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 22, 2018
What this means for Brooks Orpik is that he will become a free agent, free to sign with anyone for the upcoming season. Including Washington.
For a 37-year-old defenseman who does not boast great mobility or speed, a $5.5 million cap hit was a bit too steep for the Caps who were very close to the cap ceiling last season and who need that extra money to re-sign their free agents. But the team did value Orpik's leadership and that could be especially important as young defensemen Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos continue developing plus prospects Jonas Siegenthaler, Lucas Johansen and Connor Hobbs all try to work themselves into contention for a spot on the NHL roster.
If Orpik does return, it will be a masterstroke for general manager Brian MacLellan. MacLellan freed up a lot of cap space to re-sign Carlson without having to buy out Orpik's contract, but could still possibly keep him on the roster at a much-reduced cost.
After a strong playoff performance, there may be other teams vying for Orpik's services next season. Getting traded to get bought out likely isn't a good feeling, but considering he just won a Stanley Cup in Washington, the defensive guru Todd Reirden is expected to be promoted to head coach and that re-signing with the Caps would mean not moving his family for what could very possibly and will very likely be the last contract of his NHL career, there are a lot of reasons why it would make sense for both the team and the player if Orpik stayed with the Caps.
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The Caps made seven selections in the 2018 Draft this weekend. The group featured three defensemen, three forwards and a goalie. Interestingly, a couple of the picks have fathers who enjoyed lengthy NHL careers.
Meet the newest prospects:
1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds
The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.
Alexander Alexeyev’s teammates in Russia nicknamed him “poker face” because of his poise with the puck. And, yeah, he asked Alex Ovechkin about the fountain celebration during their FaceTime conversation yesterday. Haha. #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/iVguNmidFq— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) June 23, 2018
2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds
A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.
2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds
Kody Clark boasts an NHL pedigree as the son of Wendel Clark, a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs who recorded 330 goals and 564 career points in 763 NHL games.
Extremely honoured to be drafted by such a great organization! I am so excited to be apart of the @capitals! Many thanks to my Family/Billets Coaches, teammates and friends who have helped me achieve this milestone in my career. @Ottawa67sHockey @NHL @sachockey pic.twitter.com/hsEGKrvcX8— kody clark (@kody_clark99) June 23, 2018
Wendel Clark was mowing the lawn at his Muskoka cottage when son Kody came running outside to tell dad he'd been picked No. 47 by Stanley Cup-champion #caps. "It's more exciting than when I was picked (1st overall, #leafs, '85)," Wendel said. "It's part of being a dad." #tmltalk— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) June 23, 2018
3rd round, 93rd overall: F Riley Sutter, WHL, 6'3", 203 pounds
Riley Sutter also boasts a strong NHL pedigree as the son of Run Sutter and nephew of Darryl Sutter.
His father, Ron, is one of the six Sutter brothers who played in the NHL.— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) June 23, 2018
“Watching both of those young men play, they do a lot of the little things properly.” — #ALLCAPS Assistant GM Ross Mahoney on Kody Clark and Riley Sutter, both the sons of longtime NHLers (Wendel Clark and Ron Sutter). pic.twitter.com/aK9d1FnJvB— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) June 23, 2018
Riley is a power forward who played alongside Caps prospect Garrett Pilon on the Everett Silvertips in the WHL and recorded 53 points in 68 games last season.
4th round, 124th overall: G Mitchell Gibson, NAHL, 6'1", 187 pounds
A Harvard commit, Gibson posted a 1.59 GAA and .935 save percentage in the NAHL last season.
Gibson is a Harvard commit from the Philly suburbs. He joked that he'll know his way around KCI at Dev Camp next week, having played for Valley Forge, Team Comcast, etc. in the @AYHL. So he faced the @LittleCapitals a lot.— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) June 23, 2018
6th round, 161st overall (from Vancouver): D Alex Kannok-Leipert, WHL, 5'11", 194 pounds
The Caps certainly saw something they liked in Kannok-Leipert as they traded up from 186 to get him. That pick, along with a sixth-round pick in 2019, went to Vancouver.
7th round, 217th overall: F Eric Florchuk, WHL, 6'2", 174 pounds
Florchuk was taken with the last pick of the draft.
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