Friday, July 27, 2007

Jurcina re-ups

Per the Capitals, Milan Jurcina has signed a 2 year contract. Jurcina and the Caps thereby avoid having to present their cases before an arbitrator. Details to come.

Update: Tarik has the figures. An average of just under 900k. Not bad for a young defenseman that showed a lot of promise last year.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Laich it or not, Brooks re-signs

Brooks Laich has been signed to a one year deal with the Caps. Tarik reports that the deal is for 750k, which is an upgrade from the 606k he earned last year. Because the deal is a "one-way" contract, he will receive his full salary even if he is reassigned to Hershey.

While it doesn't seem like a whole lot (and certainly won't make or break the organization's cap numbers) it's important to remember that Laich probably will never be paid like a star. For fringe players like him, it's important that to secure as much money as he can while he can, since he doesn't have any type of guarantee that he'll be with the organization (or even the league) after his contract expires. I don't expect that the Caps will harbor any ill will over having to go to arbitration, and I sincerely doubt Brooks will have any issues with the amount he was awarded.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Laich to take his lumps

Per Tarik, Brooks Laich's arbitration hearing is scheduled for today.

Brooks is a decent grinder who put up workmanlike stats (8 g, 10 a last year, 7g, 14a the year before), but I'm not sure he's going to get any more than a verbal beatdown out of this maneuver. He skated with Semin for a portion of last year, and if the Caps put together a montage of the number of easy scoring chances created by Semin that he flubbed I don't see an arbitrator giving him a big raise.

Frankly, if the arbitrator does, I think the Caps will walk away and let him become a free agent. They now have a glut of players capable of playing third line minutes at both center and the wing. I'm not sure, but I think that may be Laich's strategy. Perhaps he sees the writing on the wall here in DC and would like to sign with a team where he'd get more minutes rather than shuttle back and forth between DC and Hershey all year long. One can't really fault the guy if that is indeed the case.

Nevertheless, it's going to be a rough afternoon in the hearing room for Mr. Laich.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Captain Clark a Capital through 2011

Per TSN, the Caps have signed team captain and all around good guy Chris Clark to an extension that will keep him with the team through 2011. Clark has been rock solid for the Caps, providing leadership, grit, and scoring (30g, 24a last year, a career best). Per Tarik, the extension averages 2.65 mil per season for the three years. Looks like Clarkie gave the team a significant hometown discount, in that he almost certainly would have demanded more on the open market should he have become a UFA. Yet another high class move by a high class guy.

It's also a good move by the Caps, locking up the hard nosed, power forward type winger to a solid deal before he would come up for free-agency next year.

I'm sure Original 6 is thrilled to have the Clarkson alum locked up. Old man, wear your alma mater's jersey with pride.

Now maybe it's time for the organization to turn its attention to getting the Caps other 30+ goal scorers under long term contract. You know... the ones that speak Russian.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eminger, Sudsy sign on the dotted line

Per the team, the Capitals have re-signed defenseman Steve Eminger and center Brian Sutherby. Financial terms were not disclosed. Both are one year deals.

Eminger has shown flashes of offensive ability in his time in DC, but has been maddeningly inconsistent throughout the last two seasons. Hopefully, a veteran presence on the back line will help him mature into a legitimate, consistent top six NHL defenseman.

Sutherby, as we have noted before, has displayed grit, determination, and a chin of absolute granite in his time here in DC. While not what one would call an offensive powerhouse (21G, 26A in 2 seasons) he has always been willing to stand up for his teammates through physical play and, when the situation demanded it, his willingness to drop the gloves and get down to business.

It's likely that both will be in DC to start the season, but if the right offer comes along, one or both might be available, since both are young players whose contracts ($ not disclosed) are probably very reasonable.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Varlamov inked

Per Tarik, the Caps have signed goaltending uber-prospect Simeon Varlamov to a 3 year entry-level deal. Because he was not under contract with a team in Russia, the Caps will not have to pay a transfer fee. The deal does allow for him to be "assigned" to a Russian Superleague team in the first year, but not the second or third.

While we doubt Ovechkin's assertion in the Russian media that Varlamov is ready to compete for a starting job with the big club this year, it's good to see that the Caps are getting the pieces in order to make sure he's available and under contract (and in the US) when the time comes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer Camp for (Caps) Kids

Tomorrow through Saturday, you can get a glimpse of a gander of young Caps prospects at the Capitals Summer Development Camp at Kettler Iceplex. On-ice workouts will be open to the public, as will scrimmages that run from 4:30 to 6 PM daily. I hear some kids named Alzner and Backstrom will be there.

Also, the pro-shop at Kettler has a couple items with the new Caps logo, so if you're looking to impress your friends with shiny new duds, you can pick up mens and womens shirts there (my Ovechkin t-shirt was a very reasonable 20 bucks).

Update: Varlamov is there, too. Sweet. The complete roster for the camp can be found here.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Yeah, but can your city beat up ours?

In yesterday's Calgary Sun, Eric Francis takes an uninformed cheap shot at our city where he refers to DC as a place where Nylander and his wife could "raise their five kids amidst the gunfire and politics of hockey hotbed Washington -- one of America's most violent cities." (That's, if you'd care to respond.) Instead of returning fire in the same low-brow, childish manner, allow us to show a little class.

This from Original 6:

"Sour grapes. Actually Edmonton is lovely… July and August. Mom and I were there 35 years ago and loved it."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Dollars and (no) sense

Ladies and gentlemen, the Deuce:

Since everyone is raving about the Rangers' "Free Agent Coup," I thought I'd take a look at their roster and see what their outlook looks like for the next few years:

Salary Cap Hits for NYR (in millions, of course):

Jagr (now 35 years old): 8.36 - expires 09/10
Gomez: 7.35, 7 more years (will be 34 yrs. Old)
Drury: 7.05, 5 more years (will be 35 yrs old)
Straka (now 33 yrs old): 3.3, expires next year
Mara: 3
Cullen: 2.8, expires 10/11
Malik: 2.5
Rozsival: 2.3
Montoya: 0.984
Tyutin: 0.95
Staal: 0.850
Betts: 0.615
Hollwed: 0.513
Orr: 0.538
Callahan: 0 .575
Thomas: 0.668
Girardi: .550

Free Agents Yet to Be Signed
Shanahan (37 yrs old): UFA, made 4 million last year
Avery: RFA - made 1.1 last year
Rachunek: RFA, made 1.8 last year
Hossa: RFA - made 0.6 last year
Prucha: RFA - made 0.55 last year
LUNDQUIST: RFA - Made 0.817 last year; Will make A LOT MORE this year!

TOTAL: 42.9 MILLION - WITHOUT NEW CONTRACTS FOR RFAs Shanahan, Hossa, Prucha, Avery, Rachunek, and LUNDQUIST! The Rangers have just under 10 million dollars per year to sign those 6 players (say goodbye to Rachunek). It would seem to me that they can sign Lundquist, Hossa, and Prucha with that money, but not Shanahan, and they may have to cut ties with Avery. Regardless, this is the Rangers' roster for the foresesable future (with the exception of Cheraponov coming over with a rookie contract in 08/09).

Grumpy Outlook: They'd better win in the next couple of years, because unless the Cap continues to skyrocket, they have very little flexibility to make changes (unless they let Lundquist walk, which I don't see happening). Remember, Hossa and Prucha should command substantial raises. If Marc Staal turns out to be the player they hope he will, they will need to start looking at resigning him come 08/09. The same may be true of Montoya (aka Trade Bait). Regardless, they will still lean heavily on Jagr…a fatal flaw for any team in the NHL. Especially considering his team just spend around 100 million dollars and he's whining about them letting Nylander go. We'll see, but in 5 years, when Drury and Gomez (two smallish centers whose games depend quite a bit on speed) are getting long in the tooth are counting 14 million against the cap, they'd better be producing like superstars. We've all seen what Tampa Bay has done since they had to let everybody but Lecavalier, St. Louis, and Richards walk. The Rangers will also have to let their roll players walk with that kind of money tied up in their "superstars." And as we've seen this offseason, experienced blueliners don't sign contracts worth under a million a year.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is -- The Redskins, er, Rangers, are making the classic Big Market Big Spender mistake in a Hard-Cap System -- throwing max money at two guys, neither of which I would classify as a "superstar," simply because they can, with no though as to the ramifications down the line. Here's to hoping it blows up in their faces.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Nylander back in the fold

The Capitals have just issued a press release announcing the return of center Michael Nylander, just signed to a 4 year deal. Contract dollars have not been disclosed.

Things are looking up in Capsland, boys and girls.

Let's go back and look at the offseason checklist for a second:

Top tier center - check (Nylander). Bonus points for adding a Swede to the roster to help Backstrom adjust to living in the US.
First pairing physical defensemen - still missing.
Power play specialist / top 4 defenseman - check (Poti).
Versatile mid-range center/righ winger - check (Kozlov).

Hopefully there will be enough crow to go around for all the folks that said the Caps wouldn't address the team's needs through free agency this summer. And it's only day 2. At this rate, we may have to change the name of this blog. Hot diggity.

Caps add Kozlov, Poti

Two solid moves by the Caps yesterday. While Philadelphia and New York were busy breaking the bank, the Caps made more modest signings to address their biggest needs.

To add experience and a legitimate power play threat on the blueline, the Caps inked 30 year old Tom Poti to a four year deal averaging 3.5 mil per year. While he may not be the physical force the Caps need, he is an experienced top four defenseman with an all-star selections. He moves well and has an absolute cannon from the point, which should keep penalty killers honest when pressuring either him or Pothier (if that ends up being the Caps power play defensive pairing). All in all, a very good signing for a very reasonable price.

After the signing of Poti, the Caps added a second former Islander in forward Viktor Kozlov to a contract averaging 2.5 mil over 2 years. While Kozlov is capable of playing all three forward positions, at this point it looks like he'll be playing the pivot, which is not his strongest spot. Still, he's an appreciable upgrade to our current group of centers. If the Caps sign another center, it's possible they might move Kozlov to the right wing. The fact that the Caps now have that option is important in that they can now go after whichever player makes most sense at either center or right wing, knowing that Kolzov can be moved to whatever position is not filled.

All in all, I'd say the Caps made two solid signings that will make for a stronger team next year. They filled their two biggest needs, and they still have plenty of Cap room, although I don't expect them to make more than one big move since they'll need that cash to lock up Ovechkin and Semin after this season when they become RFAs. If you had to grade their moves up to this point, they'd get a solid B+. If they add another solid player at either center, right wing, or defense, they move into the A range.

Caps fans, it's time to start getting fired up. The elements for a solid playoff team are coming together.

Also, it may be time to stop selling peanuts at the concessions stand.