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Pregame primer: Wilson staying away from 'shenanigans'

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Pregame primer: Wilson staying away from 'shenanigans'

News, notes and quotes as the Capitals (6-1-0, 12 points) face the Pittsburgh Penguins (4-4-0) tonight at Verizon Center (8 p.m., NBCSN):

Where they stand: The Caps have won five straight and sit third in the Metro Division behind the Islanders (13 points) and Rangers (14 points). The Penguins have won four of five after losing their first three games and are in sixth in the Metro.

Who’s in goal: Braden Holtby (5-1-0, 2.03, .917) for the Caps; Maerc-Andre Fleury (4-4-0, 2.02, .932) for the Pens. In eight career games against Pittsburgh Holtby is 3-5-0 with a 2.71 GAA and .915 SP. In 30 games against the Caps, Fleury is 17-10-2 with a 2.50 GAA and .915 SP.

Lady Byng Wilson: Through seven games, right Tom Wilson has no goals and just two assists, but the most surprising number next to his name is 2 – as in penalty minutes. Wilson has led the Caps in penalty minutes the past two seasons (151, 172) but has yet to drop the gloves this season.

“I jinxed myself before the last game,” he said of taking his first minor penalty in Edmonton. “I was looking at the stat sheet and told our trainers I’m going for the Lady Byng.”

Wilson said the biggest reason for his drop in penalty minutes has been his promotion to the third line, where he is facing some of the NHL’s top forwards, and fewer NHL enforcers, in a checking role.

“I’m just trying to play good, solid, clean hockey,” he said. “I’m in a bit of a shutdown role so I can’t go out there taking penalties. I’ve been trying to play hockey and develop my game. We’ve been playing good hockey so there’s no time for shenanigans. Just play a good four-line game. I don’t think you’ll see me staying at 2 for very long, but it’s nice to see you’re not putting your team down.”

[RELATED: Why Ovechkin, Crosby 'couldn't be any more different']

Special teams: Ten different Caps have at least one point on the power play (7-for-22, 31.8 percent) this season, led by John Carlson’s five (1 goal, 4 assists). The Penguins (2-for-28, 7.1 percent) have just three players with power play points (Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, Kris Letang with 2 each).

Injury report: Chris Brown (finger) skated with the Caps today but remains on IR. Beau Bennett (undisclosed) is expected to return to the lineup for the Penguins after missing five games. Meanwhile, former Caps center Eric Fehr said he’s nearing a return from what he called reverse Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He said he believes he’s the first NHL player to undergo such a procedure.     

Here are projected lineups for tonight’s showdown:

CAPITALS

Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Chandler Stephenson - Andre Burakovsky

Defense pairings

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby - Philipp Grubauer

Scratches: Michael LattaNate SchmidtStanislav Galiev

Injured: Chris Brown (hand)

PENGUINS

Forward lines

Pascal Dupuis – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist

Sergei Plotnikov – Evgeni Malkin – Phil Kessel

Chris Kunitz – Nick Bonino – Beau Bennett

Bryan Rust – Matt Cullen – David Perron

Defense pairings

Kris Letang – Ian Cole

Ben Lovejoy – Olli Maatta

Brian Dumoulin – Rob Scuderi

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Scratches: Daniel Sprong, Kevin PorterAdam Clendening

Injured: Eric Fehr (elbow)

 

 

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

The last time the Washington Capitals had a first-round draft pick, they selected a WHL defenseman. They did not go off script on Friday.

With the last pick of the first round, selecting for the first time as defending Stanley Cup champions, the Capitals selected Alexander Alexeyev, a left-shooting, two-way defenseman from St. Petersburg.

Alexeyev, 18, certainly boasts NHL size at 6' 4", 196 pounds. He currently plays for Red Deer in the WHL, a junior league that has become a major pipeline for the Capitals. In his second season with Red Deer, he tallied 37 points in 45 games.

The NHL Central Scouting's rankings list Alexeyev as the 22nd best North American skater of the draft. TSN projects him to be a top-four, two-way defenseman.

Analyst Craig Button described Alexeyev as a "Smart, effective defenceman who moves the puck, plays with a calm and doesn't make things complicated for himself."

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