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Who is on Capitals' free-agent shopping list?

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Who is on Capitals' free-agent shopping list?

When he addressed the media a few days after the Capitals were eliminated by the New York Rangers in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, general manager Brian MacLellan said one of his priorities for the summer would be finding a top-line right wing to play alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

At the time, he said he would be more likely to find that player in a trade and not through free agency. MacLellan reiterated those thoughts following Saturday’s NHL’s draft, saying he will monitor the cost of free agency when it begins at noon on Wednesday, but is not in a position to overpay like last year, when the Caps spent more than $67 million on defensemen Brooks Orpik and Mat Niskanen.

Assuming the Capitals commit roughly $5 million in cap space to restricted free agent goaltender Braden Holtby and a combined $7 million in cap space to RFA forwards Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov, MacLellan would have an estimated $6 million to spend on a top-line right wing and a seventh defenseman.

For what it’s worth, the Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, Canadiens and Senators also have cited the need for a top-six forward, which could drive up the prices paid on Wednesday.

If MacLellan indeed decides to fill the Caps’ need through free agency, here is a list of right wings that might interest him:

Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings

Age: 33

2014-15 stats: 18-23-41 in 81 games, 15:49

2014-15 cap hit: $3.65 million

Scouting report: A three-time Stanley Cup champion and the Conn Smythe winner in 2014, Williams is a proven playoff performer who appears to have some tread left on his tires despite 918 career regular season games and 115 playoff games. Williams plays a strong two-way game with a bit of an edge. Much like Joel Ward, the Caps probably would prefer a two-year contract, but Williams will seek four years and could get $4 million per. Williams has said he wants to stay in L.A., “but if not, I’m going to try to restart my career somewhere else, turn the page and try to win as many hockey games as I can. I’m at a point in my career where it’s not all about money, it’s about winning for me.”

Drew Stafford, Winnipeg Jets

Age: 29

2014-15 stats: 18-25-43 in 76 games, 16:29

2014-15 cap hit: $4 million

Scouting report: At 6-foot-2, 214 pounds, Stafford has size, skill and a willingness to drive the net, making him a perfect complement to Ovechkin and Backstrom. Stafford has consistently been in the 20-goal range, topping out at 31 goals in 2010-11. At 29 he’ll be seeking at least four years and likely will command $5 million or more in average salary.

Erik Cole, Detroit Red Wings

Age: 36

2014-15 stats: 21-18-39 in 68 games, 14:32

2014-15 cap hit: $4.5 million

Scouting report: Even at the age of 36 Cole has proven himself as a hard-charging, in-your-face power forward who can finish. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds he could give the Caps’ top line a heavy element and he can play the diamond on the power play. He can also slide down and play a second or third line role and be effective. He likely won’t get more than two years and he’d come at a palatable cap hit, probably in the $3.5 million range.

Chris Stewart, Minnesota Wild

Age: 27

2014-15 stats: 14-22-36 in 81 games, 15:52

2014-15 cap hit: $4.15 million

Scouting report: He’s got great size [6-2, 231] and a powerful shot, but for the most part, Stewart has fallen short of expectations, spending seven NHL seasons with four different organizations. Stewart has 30-goal potential but has hovered in the 15-goal range the past four seasons and may have trouble increasing his salary because of it. If the Caps can sign Stewart for two or three years with a cap hit of about $4 million, he might be worth the investment. Anything higher, they’d probably pass.

Michael Frolik, Winnipeg Jets

Age: 27

2014-15 stats: 19-23-42 in 82 games, 17:30

2014-15 cap hit: $3.3 million

Scouting report: Frolik plays a high skill game and can find holes to release a quick shot. His 19 goals last season represented his highest output since 2008-09 and 2009-10 when he netted back-to-back 21-goal seasons in his first two years in Florida. Frolik won a Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013, recording three goals and seven assists in 23 games while averaging 13:09 of ice time.

MORE CAPITALS: CENTER JAY BEAGLE SIGNED TO MULTI-YEAR DEAL

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Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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USA Today

Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-2) head to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada after an overtime/shootout loss against the Florida Panthers last Friday. 

The Caps are determined to avoid the devastation they felt in the first period when they gave away four goals to the Panthers. They will need to focus in the power plays and avoid penalties at all costs.

Many fans were looking forward to the reunion with former player Jay Beagle, who is now centerman for the Canucks, but he is unfortunately out on injury. However you can look out for Caps Nic Dowd, who will have his own homecoming game against his former team. 

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Canucks which takes place at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.
 

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 8 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

When: Monday, October 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Canucks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Canucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS SCHEDULE

9:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
9:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:00 PM: Capitals vs. Canucks
12:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lars Eller, F, Capitals: In his last game, he had a three-point night with three assists. He is a messaive help and shined within the trio of Vrana and Connoly on Friday.

Tim Schaller, F, Canucks: He was struggling in the preseason but came back with a vengeance. He assisted with a penatly kill and is a key component in fourth line. 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

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What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

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USA TODAY

What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. What is his job during the game?

Friday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers was one of the rare games that featured four goalies. Braden Holtby and James Reimer started, but both were ultimately pulled in what was a high-scoring affair. In stepped Pheonix Copley and Michael Hutchinson.

And yet, despite being little more than an afterthought in the team’s preparation for the game, both Copley (one goal allowed on 19 shots, .947 save percentage) and Hutchinson (one goal allowed on 11 shots, .909 save percentage) stepped in and out-performed the starters giving both of their respective teams a chance to win the game.

“It's easier in some aspects,” Holtby said of coming into a game off the bench, something he has done at various points of his career despite being the primary starter for Washington. “I think that's why you see a lot of guys go in and have success right away and have good games because you don't have that day or two days to be getting rid of your thoughts and that kind of thing.”

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. Every team dresses two goalies on the roster for a game. One starts and one sits on the bench as the backup in case he is needed because of injury or because a coach chooses to make a goalie switch. That backup is tasked with being ready at all times to step into the game knowing full well that, if all goes according to plan, he will not get to play at all.

Holtby and Reimer had prepared for Friday’s game knowing they were going to start. Both players took warmups in order to prepare them to play a full game while Copley and Hutchinson had little reason to think they would see any action at all.

By the end of the second period, however, both Holtby and Reimer had been replaced. Copley at least had an intermission to prepare as he came on at the start of the second period while Hutchinson had to step in midway through the second period.

“I guess it can be a little challenging,” Copley said, “But I feel like as long as you’re kind of paying attention to the game and your mind's kind of in that hockey mindset then if something happens, I'll be ready to go.”

Professional athletes are creatures of habit. To have to step into a game unexpectedly with little to no warning or preparation and be expected to perform at the highest level is an incredibly tough mental challenge.

And yet, in many ways, it can be easier than starting.

“The whole thing about mental preparation is so that you go out there not thinking about anything, not worrying about any of that,” Holtby said. “When you're forced in with a matter of 30 seconds, there's no time to think about anything. You just go in and play.”

For goalies, not starting does not mean having the night off. Both coaches and teammates alike can lean upon a backup netminder as an extra set of eyes.

“Sometimes they'll ask a question like did it look like I had room there?” Copley said. “Was it a shot or missed? Did you see what happened on this play? So I just try to be there and watch.”

Some coaches even give goalies assignments in game, though that practice seems to be on the decline.

“I know [Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock] makes them look at faceoffs or something,” Holtby said. “It's pretty archaic. There's guys that do that now that are better than the backup goalie at looking at things.”

In truth, there is no defined in-game requirements for most goalies in the NHL when they sit as backups and that is true of the Caps’ tandem. That makes the job of a backup a very simple one.

“I just try and be ready if I have to go in,” Copley said. “Make sure I'm physically and mentally ready and be a good teammate.”

Holtby put it even more succinctly as he said, “Don't do anything stupid.”