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Updates on Holtby, Ward contract talks from their agents

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Updates on Holtby, Ward contract talks from their agents

The agent for Capitals pending unrestricted free agent Joel Ward said Monday he has not had contract discussions with the Capitals since early February but is still hoping to strike a deal with the club before free agency begins on July 1.

“Joel would like to return to Washington,” Peter Cooney said. “That’s a definite yes with capital letters. However, if we do go to July 1 where he becomes an unrestricted free agent, the door to discuss him returning to Washington is wide open.

“We’d embrace the opportunity even after July 1 to making a deal to go back to Washington. The door doesn’t close just because it’s July 1. … The ball is in their court. We’d do a deal with Washington if the deal was right any time between now and then, or after then.”

Ward, 34, is coming off a strong season in which he recorded 19 goals and 15 assists in the regular season and followed up with three goals and six assists in the playoffs. His nine playoff points tied him with Alex Ovechkin for the team lead.

Ward signed a four-year, $12 million contract with the Capitals in 2011 and could be seeking a three-year deal in the $10 million to $11 million range. Cooney said he believes Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan is trying to get restricted free agent goaltender Braden Holtby under contract before reaching out to the team’s list of unrestricted free agents, which also includes Mike Green, Eric Fehr and Jay Beagle.

Holtby’s agent, David Kaye, said Monday he has had negotiations with the Capitals, but declined to discuss the progress of those talks or the term Holtby is seeking.

“All I can say is that we’ve had conversations with the Capitals,” Kaye said.

Cooney said he believes once Holtby and the Capitals come to terms, other contract negotiations will follow. The Caps also need to re-sign restricted free agents Evgeny Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson, Nate Schmidt and Philipp Grubauer.  

“I know they’ve got to do the goaltender first, at least that’s what the indicators show,” he said. “We know what we’re looking for, but I don’t know what their parameters are, except I did read that players that were UFAs may have to be below market value to come back to Washington.”

Cooney may have been referring to MacLellan’s remarks following the season when he told reporters, “I think it’s important for players to realize that we’ve had a successful team and if they believe we have a good chance moving forward to win a championship they recognize that going for max dollars, which [they] could make the choice to do in certain situations, it would hinder our ability to compete going forward.”

Cooney said three factors will determine where Ward signs this summer: the length of the contract, the value of the contract and the team’s ability to win during that contract term.

“Joel wants a team that brings the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup if things fall into place and obviously the coach is important and we know who the coach is in Washington,” Cooney said, referring to Barry Trotz, who also coached Ward in Nashville.

“So we would do a deal [with the Caps] without even going to unrestricted free agency if we had the right term and the right compensation, because Washington is a great spot for Joel. He loves it there. We think he can be a big piece to Washington’s drive to he Stanley Cup. Hopefully, that happens and hopefully, it’s next year.

“I know they can fit him under the cap for what we want. We want to be part of the current and future Caps and we’re determined to let Washington have every opportunity to sign him. If we end up gong to unrestricted free agency, we do. But that’s not our goal.”

 

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With Caps in Vancouver, Jay Beagle receives his ring

With Caps in Vancouver, Jay Beagle receives his ring

On June 7 in Las Vegas, Jay Beagle was in a Capitals uniform as they hoisted their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Three weeks later, the 33-year-old signed a four-year, $12-million contract with the Vancouver Canucks

The Capitals begin a four-game, Canadian road trip this evening in Vancouver. Beagle did not attend the Capitals ring ceremony at the Palm three weeks ago so the Caps awarded Beagle with his ring today.

Each ring contains 252 diamonds, 35 rubies and one sapphire. Beagle was impressed but isn't sure how much use the ring will get.

“Not sure I’ll wear it again. It’s like wearing my truck.”

Jay Beagle will not be on the ice tonight against his former team. Beagle broke his forearm when he blocked a shot against the Florida Panthers on October 13th. Beagle is expected to be sidelined for another five weeks.

Despite the injury, it has still been a great week for Beagle. 

A shiny, new ring AND a baby girl. Not too shabby.

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4 things to watch in Capitals at Canucks

4 things to watch in Capitals at Canucks

It’s going to be a late night. The Caps are in Vancouver to take on the Canucks (10 p.m., NBC Sports Washington Plus) for the first of a four-game swing through Canada. Grab your coffee, here are four things you need to watch.

Offensive firepower

Washington enters Monday’s game with the top offense in the NHL with 4.14 goals per game. Vancouver had one of the worst defenses in the league last year. They have looked much improved at the start of this season, but they are still giving up 3.00 goals per game. Washington’s high-powered superstars should be able to take advantage and get some points on the board.

Adjusted lines

The fact that Washington has the top offense in the NHL is surprising considering how much their depth forwards have struggled to produce. Prior to Friday’s game against the Florida Panthers, the Caps had gotten only two goals from the bottom six and both had come in the season-opener. After seeing his team go down 4-1 against Florida, head coach Todd Reirden shuffled up the lines and it seemed to create a spark for the offense.

Reirden indicated Sunday he will stick with those lines and he kept them together for Monday’s morning skate:

Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Devante Smith-Pelly
Chandler Stephenson – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana – Lars Eller – Brett Connolly
Dmitrij Jaskin – Nic Dowd – Andre Burakovsky

Vrana, Connolly and Smith-Pelly all scored after the change. Per the Caps’ PR team, the third line of Vrana, Eller and Connolly produced two goals, eight shot attempts and allowed just three shot attempts in over six minutes of five-on-five play.

Special teams

In addition to having the top offense in the NHL, the Caps also boast the top power play. With the extra man, the Caps are producing on 38.5-percent of their opportunities. That is most likely not a sustainable number, but it does show the power play is as good as ever.

The Canucks come into this game ranked eighth on the penalty kill at 83.9-percent and they will be the latest team to try and slow down a power play that is really starting to click with John Carlson seemingly developing into one of the top blue liners in the NHL.

Remember me?

Vancouver’s star rookie Elias Pettersson is still in concussion protocol and will not play in Monday’s game, but there is another talented youngster who will the Caps will need to watch out for in Brock Boeser.

Boeser was in a dead heat with New York Islanders forward Matt Barzal for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year last season before an injury forced him to miss the last month of the season.

In two career games against Washington, Boeser has recorded three assists. He has had a bit of a slower start to the season with five points thus far, but he is a dynamic talent who the Caps’ defense will have to account for.

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