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Will Capitals make a move or stand pat?

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Will Capitals make a move or stand pat?

George McPhee says that since the advent of the NHL salary cap, there are only three times during the year that general managers can dramatically alter the look of their teams: the NHL draft, the first day of free agency and the days leading up to the NHL trade deadline.

Two weeks from tonight in Pittsburgh, McPhee will be given one of those opportunities when he holds two valuable commodities the 11th and 16th overall picks of the 2012 NHL draft.

Will he use one or both of those picks to make a blockbuster trade? Or will he play the conservative route and continue to build from within.

A year ago, McPhee dealt the Caps first-round pick 26th overall to the Blackhawks for
Troy Brouwer. But aside from that, he has been hesitant to make significant trades at the draft.

In his 15 years as general manager of the Capitals, McPhee has held two or more picks in the first round just five other times and has had mixed results.

In 2002, the Caps had three picks in the first round and selected defenseman Steve Eminger 12th, right wing Alexander Semin 13th and right wing Boyd Gordon 17th. Eminger was a disappointment, but still garnered a first-round pick from the Flyers that turned into John Carlson.

In 2004, they again had three picks and took left wing Alex Ovechkin 1st, defenseman Jeff Schultz 27th and defenseman Mike Green 29th, each of whom have been major contributors for the Caps.

In 2005, the Caps took defenseman Sasha Pokulok 14th and defenseman Joe Finley 27th and neither made an impact in Washington or anywhere else.

In 2006, the caps drafted center Nicklas Backstrom 4th and goaltender Semyon Varlamov 23rd, who last summer was traded to Colorado for the Avs first pick in this years draft 11th. That would have to be deemed a success.

And in 2008, the Caps took center Anton Gustafsson 21st and Carlson 27th with their two first-round picks. Gustafsson has scored just three goals in his past two seasons with Langnau of the Swiss A League.

So what can the Capitals expect from this draft class?

The Capitals have selected 11th overall just once in their franchise history, selecting defenseman Brendan Witt from Seattle (WHL) in 1993. That same year, the Capitals also had the 17th pick overall and selected center Jason Allison from London (OHL).

Washington has never drafted 16th overall in its franchise history, but has taken Sergei Gonchar (14th overall, 1992), Olie Kolzig (19th overall, 1989) and Kevin Hatcher (17th overall, 1984) near the same point of past drafts.

Other recent notable players to be drafted with the 11th overall selection include Anze Kopitar (LA, 2005), Jeff Carter (Philadelphia, 2003) and Jarome Iginla (Dallas, 1995). Notable players recently selected 16th overall include Nick Leddy (Minnesota, 2009), Steve Bernier (San Jose, 2003) and R.J. Umberger (Vancouver, 2001).

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Big money John Carlson isn't going anywhere

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Big money John Carlson isn't going anywhere

John Carlson isn't going anywhere.

Carlson wanted to stay in Washington, but he wasn't going to come cheap. The Capitals ponied up the cash, however, and signed their star defenseman to a big-time, big-money deal worth $64 million that will make him a Capital for the next eight years.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir talk about his new contract, the trade that made it happen and take a look ahead to this week's development camp.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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After signing mammoth extension, Capitals' John Carlson weighs in on Todd Reirden and Michal Kempny

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After signing mammoth extension, Capitals' John Carlson weighs in on Todd Reirden and Michal Kempny

With the ink dried on his new contract, John Carlson said Monday morning that he wouldn’t mind seeing two other key cogs in the Caps’ championship run — Todd Reirden and Michal Kempny — get new deals, as well.

“I think guys have a lot of respect for Todd, and if that’s the case, then he’s going to do a great job,” Carlson said of Reirden, who is expected to interview with GM Brian MacLellan for the vacant head coaching position this week.

Carlson credited Reirden’s tutelage with helping him become a top defenseman in the game.

“From the moment that Barry [Trotz] and Todd got here, obviously Todd’s had the D, so I dealt more directly with him in terms of the little things and nuances of the game and just kind of formulating a plan to get better and how to achieve the goals I wanted to achieve,” Carlson said.

MacLellan has indicated that Reirden is the leading candidate to replace Trotz and, if things go well in the interview, he’ll get the job.

Although Carlson didn’t want to say much about the process, he did praise Reirden for his Xs and Os, his communication skills and his ability to get different personalities on the same page.

“I thought he was crucial for my career,” Carlson said, “and he just changed a few things [about] how I looked at the game, changed a few things with the D that I think really benefited everyone on D, and made it pretty clear what he expected of us and allowed us to go out there and do the rest.”

Carlson added: “I think he did a great job taking everybody for being different people and seeing things different ways. I just think he seemed to connect with everyone’s different personalities. I think he makes you look at the game a little bit differently. ... I think he’s been big for my career.”

Carlson also said that hiring Reirden would help the defending Stanley Cup champs pick up where they left off.

“I think that would be a lot easier of a transition,” he added.

As for re-signing Kempny, Carlson hopes his defensive partner also gets a new deal. After struggling to gain a foothold in Chicago’s lineup earlier this season, Kempny, 27, found a home skating alongside No. 74 after being acquired by Washington in February.

“I thought he was a great player,” Carlson said. “He made a huge impact on our team. When he got here, I thought we kind of started to play our best hockey maybe 10, 15 games after he got here, and then I thought he played awesome in the playoffs. He’s a great player, a great defender and he can skate. So that’s pretty much textbook what you want to have on your team and certainly, I think we play well together. That’s from my standpoint.”

Kempny can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

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