Washington Capitals

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Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

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Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

WASHINGTON — The Capitals bolstered their forward depth and its penalty kill by re-signing two-time Stanley Cup champion Carl Hagelin before he hit unrestricted free agency next month. 

Washington has officially re-signed forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract extension, a move that goes a long way toward re-establishing a third line that had some openings entering the offseason. 

Hagelin, 30, was a pending unrestricted free agent. Washington acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21 just four days before the NHL trade deadline. Hagelin played primarily on the third line – although injuries in the Stanley Cup playoffs pushed him onto the second line. 


Hagelin had three goals and 11 assists in 20 regular-season games with the Capitals and became an instant staple on the penalty kill. His 47 minutes, six seconds on the PK in those 20 games were enough to rank sixth among all forwards on the team.

Traded twice last season, Hagelin had a total of five goals and 14 assists with the Capitals, Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins in 58 games. He had a sprained knee (medial collateral ligament) with Los Angeles that kept him out for 20 games.  

"[Hagelin] was a good fit,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said on April 26. “I thought he fit seamlessly from day one. Really liked him on the third line, the way we used him, we bumped him up obviously with the [T.J.] Oshie injury. Our PK got a lot better. Fits in well with his teammates. It's a really good fit for us, yes." 

The Penguins traded Hagelin to the Kings on Nov. 14. He was a key part of Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup winners in 2016 and 2017, which came at the expense of Washington in the playoffs each time. 

This was the last year of a four-year, $16 million deal that Hagelin signed with the Anaheim Ducks in 2015. He was always viewed as a likely trade chip for Los Angeles, which finished in last place in the Pacific Division and eventually flipped him to the Capitals. 

Even after the disappointing first-round Stanley Cup playoff loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Hagelin said he was open to re-signing with the Capitals before he hit unrestricted free agency on July 1. His signing follows the trade of defenseman Matt Niskanen on Friday. The NHL Draft is this coming weekend in Vancouver with more moves expected.   

“I liked the fact that I got a good look from the coaches,” Hagelin said on April 26 of his time with the Capitals. “I got to play with good players, I got to play in key situations. I felt comfortable here.”



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Why the trade for Radko Gudas could signal the end of Brooks Orpik’s tenure with the Caps

Why the trade for Radko Gudas could signal the end of Brooks Orpik’s tenure with the Caps

The Carolina Hurricanes ended the Capitals’ season in the first round of the playoffs and quite possibly Brooks Orpik’s career with it. The 38-year-old defenseman said at the team’s breakdown day that the decision for what comes next, whether retirement or playing another season in the NHL, would have to wait.

“I'm in no rush in terms of deciding on my future in terms of hockey,” Orpik said. “That'll be a more health-related decision down the road."

Whether Orpik wants to come back for one more year in the NHL will be up to him, but the decision on whether to re-sign with the Caps may have just been decided for him.

On Friday, the Caps traded defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Radko Gudas. Most people hear the name Gudas and think of him as a dirty player who can’t play the position, but he is actually a decent defenseman. The media in Philadelphia selected Gudas as the most outstanding defenseman for the Flyers in 2018-19. Plus, his penalty minutes have decreased in each of the past four seasons from 116 all the way down to 63 last season. For reference, Tom Wilson had 128 and Michal Kempny had 60. It’s still high, but it signals a player making a conscious effort to stay out of the penalty box.

Gudas has been suspended four times in his career and he certainly will be watched very closely by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. One big hit could mean a lengthy suspension. That is a definite concern, but in terms of just his play, there is value there as a third-pair defenseman.

With Gudas in, that will almost certainly push Orpik out.

The move gives Washington six defenseman under contract for next season. Teams will usually keep seven for the regular season, enough for three pairs and one extra. Christian Djoos is a restricted free agent and will presumably be back as well, giving Washington seven blue liners.

Djoos had a down year last season, but he did play a third-pair role on the team’s Cup run and he is only 24. It does not make sense to give up on Djoos after one bad year just for one more year with Orpik who will be 39 at the start of next season.

Given Washington’s salary cap situation, the Caps do not have room for an eighth defenseman. If Orpik were to return, it would mean pushing someone else out. The only of those seven defensemen that would make sense to even consider moving for Orpik would be Gudas.

Gudas would not be the first player in the world to be traded and then flipped or bought out soon after. Ironically, the same thing happened to Orpik last season when he was traded to and then quickly bought out by the Colorado Avalanche.

A buyout here, however, would make no sense. According to CapFriendly’s buyout calculator, a buyout would only give Washington $1,166,667 of cap relief and most of that would go to a new Orpik deal making it pointless. Yes, you still have the $3.405 million of cap space the team would have opened up in the trade, but if the plan all along was to re-sign Orpik and ship out Niskanen, then why not just trade Niskanen for draft picks? Then you get his full cap off the books instead of having to go through the trouble of buying out Gudas and having him count against the cap for the next two seasons. That would make no sense.

As for flipping him and trading him to another team, what would the team get for him that would make it worthwhile? You cannot bring on salary or it defeats the purpose so the Caps’ options for a return would likely be limited to players of the same caliber and cap hit. What would be the point of that?

Prior to this deal, Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler were the most likely candidates to play on the third pair next season. Both are left shots. Gudas is a right-shot defenseman which now gives Washington three with John Carlson and Nick Jensen. Gudas also plays with a physical edge. Sometimes he goes too far with it, but so long as he can control himself, he would add the physical presence to the blue line that the team stands to lose with Orpik gone.

There is no reason to trade for Gudas unless the team intended for Gudas to play a role next season. General manager Brian MacLellan chose to trade for a player who is a right-shot, physical, third-pair defenseman which is pretty much exactly the hole they needed to fill on their blue line and essentially the spot Orpik will be vacating. That did not just happen by accident.


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NHL Free Agency 2019: Complete free agent matchup bracket

NBC Sports Washington

NHL Free Agency 2019: Complete free agent matchup bracket

With the NHL free agency period closing in, we at NBC Sports Washington want to know which free agents you, the fans, think the Capitals should make moves on this off-season. 

We chose the 16 free agents we think are the best fits for the Caps. Every week day we'll pit two free agents against eachother, make an argument for why the Caps should sign each player and let you, the fans, vote via our Twitter.

Here are the various matchups, with voting details, a brief preview of the matchup and the final voting results. The free agents are split into four regions: third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Capitals' free agent. 



Voting Period: Mon. 6/10 6 a.m. ET to Tues. 6/11 5:30 a.m. ET
Matchup Preview: Johansson is obviously a good fit in Washington. The former Cap has put up a strong postseason performance with Boston, and is one of the reasons the Bruins are in the postseason to begin with. But MoJo is money and Donskoi is a competitive, cheaper option. Click here for the full matchup breakdown of Marcus Johansson vs. Joonas Donskoi.
Voting Results: Michael Ferland (149) over Marcus Johansson (38)


Voting Period: Tues. 6/11 6 a.m. ET to Wed. 6/12 5:30 a.m. ET
Matchup Preview: Zuccarello was a major factor for the Stars in the playoffs, while Ferland completely disappeared. An injury limited the winger to seven games for Carolina, and he managed just one point in those seven games. Click here for the full matchup breakdown of Matts Zuccarello vs. Michael Ferland.
Voting Results: Michael Ferland (60) over Matts Zuccarello (19)

BEN LOVEJOY, D (Stars) vs. DERYK ENGELLAND, D (Golden Knights)

Voting Period: Wed. 6/12 6 a.m. ET to Thurs. 6/13 5:30 a.m. ET
Matchup Preview: Lovejoy's playoff experience with both Dallas and Pittsburgh means the defenseman could provide added depth for the Caps, both on and off the penalty kill. Engelland also brings penalty-kill experience, in addition to strong possession. Click here for the full matchup breakdown of Ben Lovejoy and Deryk Engelland
Voting Results: Engelland (24) over Lovejoy (18)

CARL GUNNARSSON, D (Blues) vs. RON HAINSEY, D (Maple Leafs)

Voting Period: Thurs. 6/13 6 a.m. ET to 6/14 5:30 a.m. ET
Matchup Preview: Gunnarsson is cheap and can deliver when it matters. Hainsey likely won't be as cheap, but is a stronger defenseman than Gunnarsson. Click here for the full matchup breakdown of Carl Gunnarsson vs. Ron Hainsey.
Voting Results: Gunnarsson (16) over Hainsey (9)

BRIAN BOYLE, C (Predators) vs. MARCUS KRUGER, C (Blackhawks)

Voting Period: Fri. 6/14 6 a.m. ET to Sat. 6/15 5:30 a.m. ET
Matchup Preview: Boyle's size and consistency speaks for itself, as does his playoff experience. But the smaller Kruger will likely cost less, and has a fair amound of Stanley Cup experience as well. Click here for the full matchup breakdown of Brian Boyle vs. Marcus Kruger.
Voting Results: Kruger (43) over Boyle (16)


Voting Period: Mon. 6/17 6 a.m. ET to Tues. 6/18 5:30 a.m. ET
Matchup Preview: Acciari's character and toughness speaks for itself, as does his penalty-kill experience. Bellemare brings veteran experience and strength on the penalty kill. Click here for the full matchup breakfown of Noel Acciari vs. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Voting Results: TBD


Voting Period: Tues. 6/18 6 a.m. ET to Wed. 6/19 5:30 a.m. ET
Matchup Preview: TBD
Voting Results: TBD

BRETT CONNOLLY, RW (Capitals) vs. BROOKS ORPIK, D (Capitals)

Voting Period: Wed. 6/19 6 a.m. ET to Thurs. 6/20 5:30 a.m. ET
Matchup Preview: TBD
Voting Results: TBD