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'Step Brothers' and no haircuts: Go inside the Capitals' team photo shoot

'Step Brothers' and no haircuts: Go inside the Capitals' team photo shoot

For the second straight year, Justin Williams had some fun on team picture day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

But this time the veteran winger enlisted a little help from Andre Burakovsky, who joined Williams in going for the big-hair, bedhead look.

The result was comic gold, and perhaps the latest fashion trend.

“It’s all fun,” Williams said afterward. “Every team picture always looks the same. So ours is going to look a little different.”

Williams pioneered the bedhead-on-picture-day move as a member of the Kings and brought the tradition with him to Washington.

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“I was thinking about maybe doing something else, but that would have taken a lot of effort,” Williams cracked.

Burakovsky, meanwhile, has a reputation for being very particular about his hair. But that all went out the window earlier this season when he made a bet with teammate Marcus Johnasson.

Burakovsky declined to divulge the details of the bet, other than to say it involves avoiding a barber’s chair until the Capitals’ final game has been played.

It’s been nearly five months since his last haircut.

“My hair doesn’t get long. It gets big,” Burakovsky said before adding with a tinge of regret: “Obviously right now, it’s not even possible to do something to it. I just wear my toque every day and hide it.”

So how did Burakovsky (and his poofy hair) end up next to Williams in the team photo?

Glad you asked.

“Justin just came up to me a couple of weeks ago and said, ‘Hey we need to do this together’,” Burakovsky explained. “It’s going to be awesome if we sit next to each other.’ So we went for it.”

Awesome, indeed.

At first glance, it would seem the two men have little in common. After all, Burakovsky is 22 years old and was raised in Sweden. Williams is 35 and was born in Ontario. That all said, they’re pretty tight, according to Coach Barry Trotz.

“Those guys are brothers—Burakovsky and Williams,” Trotz said. “They’re little brother and big brother.”

Williams acknowledged that Monday’s pose was inspired by the poster for the Will Ferrell movie ‘Step Brothers.’

“There’s something to that,” Williams said. “Burky’s nickname is sometimes ‘Dale’.”

Dale, of course, is the character played by John C. Reilly in the 2008 comedy.

Burakovsky tried to downplay how much work went into getting his hair photo-ready. He claimed that he used no products; he just ran his fingers through it.

Williams, on the other hand, was not ashamed to detail how he prepared his perfectly crafted coif. He washed it the night before and then combed it out—repeatedly—before taking his spot on the riser.

“I did it in L.A. one year,” Williams said with a gaggle of cameras and reporters gathered around.

“But it certainly didn’t get the attention it’s gotten here. I’m at the podium talking about it.”

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Caps sign Jakub Vrana to a 2-year bridge deal with an eye on the future

Caps sign Jakub Vrana to a 2-year bridge deal with an eye on the future

One of the biggest items on the Capitals’ offseason to-do list is now finally done as the team signed winger Jakub Vrana to a two-year bridge deal worth $6.7 million. The deal carries with it a cap hit of $3.35 million per year.

Vrana enjoyed his best NHL season in 2018-19 with 24 goals, 23 assists and 47 points, all career-highs. He cemented himself as a top-six forward in the 2018 playoff run and did not relinquish that role in Todd Reirden’s first season as head coach.

“Jakub is a highly skilled player with a tremendous upside and is a big part of our future,” general manager Brian MacLellan in a statement released by the team. “We are pleased with his development the past two seasons and are looking forward for him to continue to develop and reach his full potential with our organization.”

The only disappointment for Vrana this season came in the playoffs when he was held to zero points in seven games. When asked at the team’s breakdown day if he was dealing with an injury, he said that he was, but would not confirm the nature or severity of the injury.

Though negotiations stretched into mid-July it was always a foregone conclusion that Vrana would return. He was a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights meaning he had little bargaining power. Seeing Sebastian Aho receive a rare offer sheet raised the specter of a similar possibility for Vrana, but in the end, the deal got done and Washington will return what will likely be a key piece of its offense for years to come.

Though many would have liked to see the 23-year-old forward get locked up long-term given his skill and work ethic, a bridge deal was always likely. Signing an RFA long-term means buying UFA years which ups the value of the contract. Without much money under the cap, even if MacLellan wanted to get a long-term deal done the team simply did not have the cap room to do it.

Vrana will still be an RFA at the end of his new contract, but he will have arbitration rights at that point. His contract will also expire the same year as Alex Ovechkin’s and one year after Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby’s. By then the future for all three within the organization should be determined leaving MacLellan free to negotiate with Vrana without the possibility of major contracts for the team’s stars looming over him. When it comes time for Vrana to sign a new deal, MacLellan should have a better idea of how much money he has to work with for a future deal.

With Vrana now in the fold, the Caps currently have less than $1 million remaining in cap space with restricted free agents Christian Djoos and Chandler Stephenson still left to sign. Washington retained the rights of both players by issuing them qualifying offers and both have filed for arbitration.

Djoos would be the team’s seventh defenseman so it seems likely he will be on the roster at the start of the season. The future seems less clear for Stephenson. Teams are allowed to exceed the salary cap ceiling by a small amount until the start of the new season so it certainly seems as if we are headed for a fourth-line competition in training camp.

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Andre Burakovsky inks new deal with Colorado Avalanche

Andre Burakovsky inks new deal with Colorado Avalanche

Andre Burakovsky is officially no longer a Washington Capital.

After he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in June for second and third-round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, Burakovsky inked a new deal with the squad for one year and $3.25 million.

Burakovsky posted 25 points last season in 76 games and had been the subject of trade rumors for the better part of two seasons. The Capitals offered him a qualifying offer but would have had to match his previous cap hit of $3 million per year.

The Capitals, after signing Garnet Hathaway, Richard Panik and Brendan Leipsic, have a touch over $4 million left to sign restricted free agents Jakub Vrana and Chandler Stephenson, and Burakovsky's departure gave them the cap space to sign those deals.

Colorado meanwhile has $19.9 million in remaining cap space and need to sign a host of restricted free agents to new deals, including Mikko Rantanen, J.T. Compher and Vlaidslav Kamenev.

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