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Prospect report: Ilya Samsonov steals the show in World Juniors

Prospect report: Ilya Samsonov steals the show in World Juniors

Hershey update: 18-7-5-2, 4th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-1-0-0

News broke last week that Madison Bowey, one of the Caps’ top defensive prospects, would be out indefinitely after suffering a cut by a skate to the tendon in his ankle.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir caught up with Bowey last week to talk to him about the injury. The projected time frame for the injury at this point is three months which would mean he would return at the beginning of April.

On the ice this week, Liam O’Brien put on a show for the Bears in Friday’s win over Bridgeport. O’Brien scored two goals and an assist in the game.

Watch the highlights here:

The game was the first three-point game of O’Brien’s career. He now has 18 points on the season, two more than he had in all of last season.

With the Caps currently carrying only 12 forwards on the roster, a call up from Hershey is imminent. Now is a good time for a player like O’Brien to be showcasing his talent.

When thinking about the team’s prospects in Hershey, O’Brien is not the player many jump to when considering who the Caps may call up. He is a gritty forward who is not afraid to drop the gloves. He played in 13 games for the Caps in 2014-15 scoring one goal and one assist. But O’Brien is proving he can me more than just an agitator this season.

"In the past, you'd think of him as maybe a tough guy, fourth-line left-winger, try to get him some penalty-kill time, try to turn the momentum," Hershey head coach Troy Mann said, "but now he's able to do that and contribute offensively, as you saw on the pass to Stephenson on the first goal."

It has been a tough season for Stanislav Galiev who has been limited to only 15 games due to injury. But the Russian forward had a good week with one goal and two assists including a great spin move to set up Brad Malone for the goal (see it in the video above). Malone made the play harder than it needed to be as Galive fed him the puck on his forehand with an empty net yawning, but Malone elected to deke and go for the five-hole rather than take the easy goal. Luckily, he still was able to finish the play.

Zach Sanford scored the Bears’ lone goal in a 4-1 loss to Providence on Saturday. In just nine games with Hershey, Sanford already has five goals and four assists.

RELATED:Orpik among the many Capitals amped up for Jackets

Other prospect notes:

Ilya Samsonov had a rough start tot the World Junior tournament allowing five goals against Canada, but he has played very well ever since.

On Dec. 29 in Russia’s first game against USA, Samsonov made 34 saves in a 3-2 loss. He followed that performance with two shutouts against Slovakia and Denmark. The in Wednesday’s semifinal rematch with USA< Samsonov really kept Russia in it for much of the game, making 40 saves in the 4-3 shootout loss.

You can see highlights of all four games he played over the past week here: USA (first round), Slovakia, Denmark, USA (semifinal)

It’s important to keep in mind while watching Samsonov that he is 19 years old and still very much a work in progress. You can see he over commits on a few goals and is slow to react on others, especially when dealing with a screen. The third goal he allowed in the semifinal game is ugly. That’s one he has to have.

But the junior tournament also highlighted Samsonov’s raw potential. He is similar to Braden Holtby in that he seems to play with an aggressive style. He is quick with the poke check which he used to stop a penalty shot in Russia’s first game with USA. While the third goal in the semifinal game was bad, he also came up with a big glove save on a penalty shot to keep the deficit at one in the third period. That was a big-time save in a big-time moment.

Samsonov has a 2.33 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage at the World Juniors. There have been only four shutouts in the entire tournament and he has two of them.

Russia will play in the third-place game against Sweden on Thursday.

It was also a successful tournament for the Caps’ two Swiss prospects, Jonas Siegenthaler and Damien Riat. Both players tied for second on the team in points with 1 goal and five assists each. Siegenthaler’s six points have him tied for second among all defensemen.

The reviews of Siegenthaler were particularly glowing as the young defenseman proved to be the Switzerland’s workhorse on the blue line. He led the team in ice time with an average of 25 minutes per game.

TSN analyst Craig Button also named Siegenthaler as a junior all-star.

In the college ranks, Chase Priskie tallied one goal and one assist in the Three Rivers Classic for Quinnipiac and was named to the All-Tournament team. Brian Pinho recorded three assists in Providence’s two games and now leads the team in points with 17 in 18 games.

Forward Beck Malenstyn had an impressive week in the WHL as he scored three goals and one assist in three games for the Calgary Hitmen. He now leads the team in goals with 16 and is second on the team in points with 25.

South Carolina goalie Adam Carlson was scratched from his start last week. He was not on the bench for either of the Stingrays’ games this week and is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

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The NHL salary cap numbers are in, what does it mean for the Caps?

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USA TODAY Sports

The NHL salary cap numbers are in, what does it mean for the Caps?

The NHL released the salary cap range for the 2018-19 season on Thursday. That sound you hear is the general managers frantically typing numbers into adding machines to figure out which of their players they can afford and which they are going to have to let walk.

The cap ceiling will rise from last year's $75 million all the way up to $79.5 million with the cap floor set at $58.8 million.

So what does this mean for the Capitals?

Here's a look at the team's pending free agents:

Unrestricted free agents: Jay Beagle, John Carlson, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Graovac, Jakub Jerabek, Michal Kempny, Anthony Peluso, Zach Sill, Wayne Simpson

Restricted free agents: Riley Barber, Madison Bowey, Travis Boyd, Adam Carlson, Philipp Grubauer, Tim McGauley, Liam O'Brien, Devante Smith-Pelly, Tom Wilson

We will not know exactly who will make the roster, so to project how much money the Caps will have to work with, let's assume Nathan Walker makes the team and Shane Gersich goes to the AHL. That will give the Caps a little less than $14.8 million with which to work.

Considering the team will need to use about half of that number if not more to re-sign Carlson, that's not a whole lot to work with.

Is $7 million enough to re-sign Beagle, Kempny, Bowey, Smith-Pelly and Wilson? Probably not and that does not even account for prospects who will try to compete for the NHL roster such as Barber and Boyd.

Here's what the cap ceiling tells us:

  • The team's entire offseason will depend on if the team can re-sign Carlson and for how much.
  • Carlson's cap hit last season was just under $4 million. A $4.5 million increase in the salary cap ceiling doesn't mean much when Carlson is going to get a raise of $3 million or more.
  • Grubauer will almost certainly be traded because he is an asset and because there won't be enough money for the team to commit $1.5 million or more to the backup goalie like they did last season.
  • If Carlson returns, fan favorite Beagle has almost certainly played his last game as a Cap. Everyone wants him back, but he would have to take a severe discount for the Caps to fit him and even then, he would be taking away a roster spot from a young prospect ready to make the jump to the NHL.

Free agency opens July 1.

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Barry Trotz finds contract he was looking for, officially named New York Islanders new head coach

Barry Trotz finds contract he was looking for, officially named New York Islanders new head coach

Barry Trotz did not remain unemployed for very long.

Trotz, who led the Capitals to the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup title, resigned from his post less than a week after the team's championship parade in Washington, D.C.

But on Thursday, the Capitals' now former bench boss was officially named the head coach of the New York Islanders.

Trotz's contract was expected to expire at the end of the 2017-18 season, but upon winning the Stanley Cup, an automatic two-year extension was triggered, raising his $1.5 million yearly salary by $300,000. But Trotz wanted to be compensated as one of the top five coaches in the NHL.

While the terms of his deal have yet to be finalized, according to Elliotte Friedman, Trotz's deal could be in the 5-year, $20 million range.

With the Islanders, Trotz inherits a team that finished 35-37-10 last season under head coach Doug Weight, despite having John Tavares, one of the best centers in the NHL, and several young studs like Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle, and Josh Ho-Sang. But Tavares enters the offseason as a free agent, and many teams will be looking to pay top-dollar for his services. 

Trotz will report to Lou Lamoriello, who was named the Islanders' president and general manager in May after spending three seasons in the same role with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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