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Tom Wilson to have second hearing of the preseason with Department of Player Safety

Tom Wilson to have second hearing of the preseason with Department of Player Safety

Tom Wilson will have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Tuesday for boarding the Blues’ Sammy Blais.

It’ll be the second time in less than two weeks that player safety has called a hearing with the rugged Capitals winger.

In the second period of Sunday’s preseason finale—a 4-3 Washington victory at Scottrade Center in St. Louis—Wilson was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for hitting Blais from behind.

Although Blais was initially shaken by the hit, he returned to the game after clearing the league’s concussion protocol.

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For a typical game on NBC Sports Washington, there at least five views for the department of player safety to review, and sometimes as many as 11. This game, however, wasn’t typical; it was not broadcast in Washington or St. Louis. There is, however, in-arena video of the play.

Although Wilson plays on the edge and has been in the league’s crosshairs for some time now, he’s avoided getting into serious trouble until recently.

On Sept. 23, the 23-year-old was suspended two exhibition games for a late hit on St. Louis’ Robert Thomas. It was the first suspension of Wilson’s career and, more important, it made him repeat offender in the eyes of the NHL. As such, it’s less likely he’ll receive any leniency for the hit on Blais.

After the game, Blues Coach Mike Yeo suggested that it’s perhaps time for the league to come down hard on Wilson.
   
“It’s a predatory hit with a guy that apparently didn’t learn his lesson from the first suspension,” Yeo told reporters in St. Louis. “So, maybe coming down a little bit harder on him will make him think a little bit more about it. It’s tough going against vulnerable people.”  

Blais also thought the hit was dangerous, saying, “…it was not a good hit. I didn’t see him coming. If I saw him coming I would protect myself.”

After last week’s suspension, Wilson vowed not to change his hard-hitting style of play, adding, “Every time you make a body check, you’re making a split-second decision. I take pride in the physical nature of my game. I take pride in my body checks. This is my fifth season, and I’ve made a lot of body checks — very clean, hard hits. So I trust myself. Maybe it was a second late or whatever, but I’m going to learn from it and I’m going to continue to play my game, my hard-natured hockey.”

That suspension, though, amounted to a cheap lesson for Wilson. Preseason games, of course, do not count in the standings and he did not forfeit any salary since players are not paid until the regular season.

If he’s suspended on Tuesday, though, the consequences will be much more severe. In addition to his paycheck being docked, it’ll leave Washington with a hole to fill up front until he returns. Wilson is also on the team’s top penalty kill forward pair with Lars Eller.

The Caps are leaning toward keeping the maximum of 23 players on the opening night roster, which must be finalized by Tuesday at 5 p.m., so that they’ll have an extra forward in the event Wilson is banned.

The regular season begins Thursday in Ottawa.

MORE CAPITALS: WAS TOM WILSON'S HIT ON SAMMY BLAIS 'PREDATOR?'

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Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

DALLAS — Hours after being named head coach of the New York Islanders on Thursday, Barry Trotz made his first public comments since stepping down in Washington earlier in the week.

And, from the sounds of it, his departure was mostly a business decision.

“Yeah, obviously, I love the D.C. area,” he told reporters on a conference call. “But when it came to the business aspect, from my standpoint, I felt that it wasn’t really sincere [given] what we did together. So I decided that it was better to just move on.”

“I thank the fans,” he added. “I’m glad we could get it done. I said we could get it done in four years, and we did.”

Although the value of his contract with the Islanders has not been publicly disclosed, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Trotz is set to earn “at least $4 million” per year—or more than twice what he was earning in Washington.

A source told NBC Sports Washington earlier this week that Trotz, who directed the Caps to their first Stanley Cup two weeks ago, sought $5 million per season for five seasons. The five-year term, that source said, was a non-starter as far as the Caps were concerned, given the relatively short shelf life of NHL coaches and the fact that Trotz had already been in Washington for four seasons.

When it became clear that the sides weren’t going to close the considerable gap between their positions, Trotz offered to step down and the resignation was accepted, making the 55-year-old a free agent.

When “I got the [counteroffer], I guess I knew it was time to go in a different direction,” he said.

In New York, Trotz replaces Doug Weight, who was fired earlier this month along with GM Garth Snow. Lou Lamoriello, a longtime NHL executive, took over for Snow and immediately started a search for a new head coach.

Once Trotz became available, it didn’t take Lamoriello to zero in on the NHL's fifth all-time winningest coach. The two met, exchanged ideas and quickly realized that they had found a good fit in one another. Trotz said he's already reached out to the Islanders' star captain, John Tavares, who could become the biggest prize on the free agent market on July 1. 

And, like that, Trotz now is the coach of a Metropolitan Division foe. The Caps and Isles will face off four times next season, beginning with a Nov. 26meeting in New York.

It’ll be weird, for sure. But professional sports is a business. And all sides involved in the Trotz saga were served a painful reminder of that this week.

Asked if he felt wanted in Washington, Trotz said: “Well, I’ll leave that up to the Caps to answer that. I think, absolutely. We just won a cup together and so I don't think that was an issue. I think it was more principle.”

In the end, Trotz wanted to be compensated like one of the top coaches in the game. And now he will, settling in behind big market coaches such as Toronto’s Mike Babcock ($6.25 million per year), Chicago’s Joel Quenneville ($6 million) and Montreal’s Claude Julien ($5 million).

“It’s good to be wanted,” he said. “It happened really quickly because you go from one emotion of winning the cup to the next emotion of leaving the team that you just won the Cup with, and you have to make some quick decisions. I know the timing of it—end of the season, the draft coming up, free agency [and] all that—there was some urgency on that. Both parties knew that, so we went to work at it and got it done.”

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

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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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