Tag:Washington Capitals
Posted on: July 15, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: July 15, 2011 2:55 pm

Capitals re-sign young D Alzner for two years

By Brian Stubits

The Washington Capitals added to their offseason transactions by re-signing defenseman Karl Alzner, a restricted free agent, to a two-year contract, the team announced Friday morning. The contract calls for an annual cap hit of $1.285 million according to capgeek.com.

“We are pleased to have re-signed Karl Alzner to a two-year contract,” Capitals GM George McPhee said. “We feel he’s an important part of our defensive core who logs critical minutes against other teams’ top player

With the signing of Alzner, that brings the Caps to 23 players under contract, but more importantly puts them over the salary cap of $64.3 million by almost $900,000. This will have to be taken care of by the start of the regular season and what the Capitals seem likely to do is put defenseman Tom Poti on the long-term injury list as he recovers from a groin injury he sustained.

Getting Alzner back in the fold was pretty imperative for the Caps after the 22-year-old had a very solid season on the blue line for Washington. Last season he played in all 82 games scoring two goals with 10 assists, but scoring isn't his game. He also blocked 132 shots (third on the team) and placed seventh in hits with 98 all while recording a plus-14 on the season while averaging 20 minutes of ice time.

The No. 5 overall selection in the 2007 draft figures to be a rock for the back line for the Capitals for years as they transform into a more well-rounded team instead of one that scores, scores and scores some more as it had previously played.

For more Capitals news, click here.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 14, 2011 10:40 am
Edited on: July 14, 2011 12:17 pm

Daily Skate: Leonsis' vision, Hiller progressing

By Brian Stubits

LEONSIS LIKES HIS TEAM: Owner Ted Leonsis is anything but shy and reserved, especially as an owner. Speaking at the National Press Club on Wednesday, Leonsis talked about his Capitals (Washington Post), specifically how he sees the Capitals as playoff mainstays. "This team will make the playoffs, as I promised, 10 to 15 years in a row. There is a 10- to 15-year horizon." He also addressed why he elected to keep much-maligned Bruce Boudreau as the team's coach, saying such decisions can't be made by emotion.

WOLFGANG PUCK? The Chicago Blackhawks took a big step in their branding attempts by opening a new restaurant in Chicago O'Hare airport on Wednesday. It figures to get seen by plenty of people, as O'Hare is the world's second busiest airport. What I want to know is how they got that massive pair of scissors for the ribbon cutting through security.

CLIMBING UP THE HILL: The Anaheim Ducks had a massive stroke of bad luck last season when they lost goaltender Jonas Hiller for the stretch run and playoffs because of symptoms of vertigo. But things sound good for Hiller according to coach Randy Carlyle (Ducks team site) . "He's been at a goalie camp in Switzerland and things have gone well with his progression…He has no symptoms, so this is a huge step for him. He'll spend two weeks [working there]…We think it's behind him, but you really never know with these things."

MY OH MYERS: Surprising this was kept so quiet all this time, but in the playoffs the Sabres apparently grew tired of a heckler on the glass in Philadelphia. Check out this video (hat tip to Puck Daddy) of the Flyers fan shouting at the Sabres, who respond by firing pucks at the glass. Then it's the behemoth Tyler Myers' turn and he finds a pretty good way to shut the guy up for a few seconds: breaking the glass. It quickly became a dangerous situation with glass falling to the seats below.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 5:41 pm

Becoming Wild: Minnesota's version of 24/7

By: Adam Gretz

Leading up to last season's Winter Classic, HBO's 24/7 followed the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals around in what was the NHL's answer to Hard Knocks. Only better. Instead of focusing on the sometimes mundane routine of training camp and exhibition games, 24/7 was documenting two teams -- two fierce rivals -- in the middle of the regular season, playing games that actually count.

It proved to be a huge success and will be returning this season to help preview the Jan. 2 outdoor game between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. Rangers coach John Tortorella by himself will be a reason to watch.

In the meantime, for those of you itching to get a behind the scenes look at an NHL team, the Minnesota Wild have their own version: Becoming Wild. It's a six-part series that will air on Fox Sports North this summer and also be featured on the team's official website.

The series will take a look at the Houston Aeros' (Minnesota's top minor league club) preperation for a Calder Cup playoff game, the hiring of new coach Mike Yeo, preparations for the NHL Entry Draft, training camp and the completion of the NHL roster for the 2011-12 season.

The first episode has already been posted on the team's website and documents the previously mentioned Aeros playoff game. Also featured: resident enforcer Matt Kassian, citing his size advantage, trying to convince his teammates after a team meeting that he can last three rounds in the ring with Manny Pacquiao, passionately arguing that his extra 100 pounds can give him the power that he'll need.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 10, 2011 11:29 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 9:17 am

If you like goals, Colorado was the team to watch

By: Adam Gretz

During the 2010-11 season the NHL averaged 5.59 goals per game, which was the second lowest league-wide average since it came out of the lockout in 2005 (the lowest was 5.57 in 2007-08).

Obviously, some teams are involved in higher scoring games than others due to their system or roster makeup, and you probably know going into a game against New Jersey or Nashville that goal scoring is going to be at a minimum.

But which teams were involved in the highest and lowest scoring games last year (goals scored and goals allowed)? Here's a look at the top-and-bottom 10.

Let's start with the teams that were involved in the highest scoring games…

2010-11 Highest Scoring Games
Team Goals Scored Per Game Goals Allowed Per Game Total Goals Per Game
Colorado Avalanche 2.70 3.50 6.20
Detroit Red Wings 3.13 2.89 6.02
New York Islanders 2.74 3.15 5.89
Atlanta Thrashers 2.66 3.20 5.86
Tampa Bay Lightning 2.94 2.85 5.79
Philadelphia Flyers 3.12 2.63 5.75
Chicago Blackhawks 3.07 2.68 5.75
Calgary Flames 2.94 2.80 5.74
Buffalo Sabres 2.93 2.78 5.71
Anaheim Ducks 2.87 2.84 5.71

If you like a lot of goals, the Colorado Avalanche were definitely the team to watch. In their case, as well as teams like the Islanders and Thrashers, they appear so high on the list because they allowed a ton of goals, not necessarily because they scored a lot. So while their games were lighting up the scoreboard, it probably wasn't the type of excitement you wanted to see if you were a fan of one of those clubs.

Red Wings games, on the other hand, were generally exciting because they were not only the second-highest scoring team in the league, but also because they were eighth in goals allowed. The 2.89 goals the Wings allowed per game was the highest of any team to qualify for the postseason.

At the other end of the spectrum, here's a look at the teams that were involved in the lowest scoring games…

2010-11 Lowest Scoring Games
Team Goals Scored Per Game Goals Allowed Per Game Total Goals Per Game
New Jersey Devils 2.09 2.52 4.61
Nashville Predators 2.60 2.32 4.92
Los Angeles Kings 2.55 2.39 4.94
Washington Capitals 2.67 2.33 5.00
Florida Panthers 2.33 2.71 5.04
Montreal Canadiens 2.60 2.51 5.11
New York Rangers 2.73 2.38 5.11
Pittsburgh Penguins 2.78 2.39 5.17
Minnesota Wild 2.48 2.78 5.26
Boston Bruins 2.98 2.30 5.28

The usual suspects appear at the top (New Jersey and Nashville): teams that struggle to score and also play tight, defensive systems.

How big of a gap is there from the top team (Colorado) and the bottom team (New Jersey)? Look at it this way: If you watched every single Devils game, you would have witnessed 130 fewer goals over the course of the season than a person who watched every Avalanche game.

There are also a couple of unexpected teams in the bottom group, particularly Pittsburgh and Washington. When you look at the Penguins, it's maybe not quite as surprising when you consider they played the first half of the season without Jordan Staal and then played the second half without a pair of former scoring champions in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

But Washington? Involved in the fourth-lowest scoring games in the league? That's certainly not what we've grown to expect from them in recent years, and it offers a nice look into just how defensive that team became last season.

In the three previous years they went from the 11th highest-scoring games in 2007-08 to fourth in 2008-09 to the top spot in 2009-10. How much of a shift was there from being involved in the highest-scoring games to the fourth-lowest? The average Capitals game in 2010 averaged 1.59 fewer goals per game than the previous year.

The second biggest drop belonged to the Penguins whose games averaged 0.74 fewer goals.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 8:01 pm

Eric Fehr traded to Winnipeg

Eric Fehr traded to Winnipeg

By: Adam Gretz

Outside of re-signing team captain Andrew Ladd to a contract extension earlier this week, the Winnipeg Jets' offseason has been a calm one. Perhaps even a little patient. The club hasn't jumped into a weak free agent class and has instead made only a couple of minor depth additions. On Friday, the club made a slightly larger move when it acquired forward Eric Fehr from the Washington Capitals in exchange for minor leaguer Danick Paquette and a fourth-round draft pick in 2012.

Fehr, who has to pass a physical by 5 PM Monday for the deal to become official, has had his career derailed by injuries since being selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2003 draft. In 52 games with the Capitals last season he scored 10 goals to go with 10 assists, after scoring a career-high 21 goals the previous season in 69 games.

Since making his NHL debut during the 2005-06 campaign Fehr has played more than 60 games just twice in his career. He is still only 25 years old and has enough ability that this is a worthy gamble by the Jets front office, especially given the relatively cheap price they had to surrender to make it happen.

The key aspect of the trade for the Capitals is getting Fehr's $2.2 million cap hit off the books for the upcoming season, as the club needed to clear cap space and still has to work out a deal with restricted free agent defenseman Karl Alzner. This should help, and given the offseason additions of Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Jeff Halpern up front, shouldn't hurt the on-ice product. Even if the return isn't all that impressive.

Paquette, a third-round pick by the Thrashers organization in 2008, spent the 2010-11 season playing for the Gwinnett Gladiators of the East Coast Hockey League where he scored 13 goals in 59 games. According to Hockey's Future, he has the potential "to be an effective energy line player and possible power play threat."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 6, 2011 8:42 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 9:09 am

Joel Ward discusses his role in Washington

By: Adam Gretz

The Washington Capitals made a strong effort to become a better defensive team during the 2010-11 season, allowing just 197 goals (a 36-goal improvement from the previous year), the fourth-best mark in the NHL. Based on their moves this summer, they could be an even tougher team to score against in 2011. Not only did they re-sign Brooks Laich, a strong defensive presence up front, to go along with the free agency additions of Roman Hamrlik and Tomas Vokoun, they also added one of the best shutdown forwards in the NHL in 30-year-old Joel Ward, formerly of the Nashville Predators. He was signed to a four-year contract on July 1.

A player who can easily be described as a "late bloomer," Ward has never been one to light up the scoreboard with huge goal or point totals, but he has been counted on to play some of the toughest minutes in the NHL against the toughest competition in the toughest situations.

He was kind enough to spend a few minutes on the phone with me on Wednesday evening to discuss the free agency process, his role on the ice and his long journey to the NHL.

Adam Gretz: What was the July 1 free agency process like for you? Did you have a list of teams that you had in your mind that you wanted to play for, did you simply wait for your agent's phone to ring at 12:01 and sort through the offers, or was it a combination of the two?

Joel Ward: I'd say it was a little bit of both. I had a couple of teams in mind that I thought I'd like to pursue and Washington was definitely up there, so I was pretty excited when they contacted my agent. I was hoping to land a spot there if I could and things worked out so I'm pretty excited about the new opportunity.

Gretz: What was it about Washington that attracted you? The organization, the staff, the style … perhaps it was watching them on 24/7 last year?

Ward: (laughs) It was a combination of all of those things. I definitely watched 24/7 and I liked the makeup of the team, and I thought that was a really good program to get an outsiders perspective. But again, I just liked the makeup of the team. It's a very high powered offense and at times more of a defensive style, and it's a bit of a different look than what I was used to in Nashville. I thought making the playoffs every year and giving themselves an opportunity was always going to be a fun spot to be in to try and hoist the Stanley Cup.

Gretz: Whenever a player signs a contract, whether it be re-signing with a team or signing a deal in free agency, the first thing we always do is say, OK, this guy scored this many goals last year and now he's making this much money. If you were to do that with a player like yourself, you kind of miss what your real value is. In Nashville you were always playing against the other teams top line, starting in the defensive zone. You were playing tough minutes. You're not out there to score 40 goals. Your job is to stop the other teams 40 goal scorer from scoring.

Ward: That's exactly it. We did it a little different in Nashville with a very defensive style. I would ask people if they could guess who our leading goal-scorer was and a lot of people would be a little confused by it (it was Sergei Kostitsyn), but it's just a different mix.

We had a different collection of guys that stepped up in different situations, and that's the way we did it there. My game is just to be defensively sound, pay attention to detail and get the puck up the ice. I was very excited to get that opportunity in Nashville. I take pride in playing at both ends of the rink and to be good at every position. You don't have to be good at one spot, just try to do everything well and hope that keeps up and creates more ice-time for yourself.

Last year I started learning face-offs and doing a little bit of that and working in the defensive zone and different areas in coverage, and it kind of helped a lot. It was definitely a learning curve, but I think I became better as the year went on with my responsibilities in my own end. And again, offensively if you can get the puck out of the zone, which I take pride in along the boards, it creates opportunities for your linemates for offensive chances.

Gretz: Is that something you learn early on that, OK, as much as I want to I'm probably not going to score 50 goals, so I better make sure I can contribute in as many other areas as I can?

Ward: You're right. It's no secret, I'm not going out there to score 50, but then again, who is? Not many guys are doing that. In order to succeed in this league you just have to go out there every night and consistently try to work on the skills you do have. I've kind of learned playing the defensive side of things it can create offensive chances. I just take pride on the walls and trying to get open for my d-man for that outlet pass and try to make plays off the wall as opposed to just shooting it out. It's something I've been doing for a while now, and it's something I want to bring to Washington and try to win over the fans and say, 'Hey, I'm here to win games and I'm here to compete.'

Gretz: You've developed a reputation as being a "big-game" player, a guy that raises his level of play in the playoffs. That's a pretty good reputation to have in this league -- especially when it comes to free agency -- because every team wants a guy who plays his best in the biggest situations.

Ward: It's playoff hockey. It's a fun time of year. You get in the playoffs, and it's a fresh start, and regardless of who you're playing against you just try to stay in the moment as best you can. I mean, who wouldn't want to win the Stanley Cup? That's my attitude, I just want to win, and I'm sure everybody else does, and you just go out there and try to execute and work hard and hope positive things happen.

I'm just really excited about the opportunity here in Washington, and the team they have here, and hopefully I can bring a little bit more to help out. It's just a fun time of year to be in the playoffs. You watch the Boston-Vancouver series, you kind of wish you were there. I remember just kind of staring at the TV watching as Boston was skating around with the cup, and you wish that can be you, and I think I gave myself a better opportunity to do that here in Washington.

Gretz: Washington really seemed to shift its style last year and became a lot more defensive. They scored fewer goals and allowed a lot fewer as well. Obviously, you're a shutdown type of guy up front, so it would appear that your skill set would really fit in well with what they're doing there.

Ward: Definitely. That's what we did down in Nashville the past couple of years; we were a tight defensive group and tried to feast on turnovers and opportunities. Playing in a system like that definitely benefits, and I'm ready to learn whatever system I have to play. I'll definitely know my role when I'm out there and try to provide the best opportunity for my linemates to create chances. You know, defensive hockey isn't just staying in your own zone and defending. If you're playing in the oppositions side of the ice, hey, that's less time you have to play in your zone. More attack zone is the way I look at it defensively. Just try to keep the puck in the other team's end cycling and creating more opportunities.

Gretz: Your journey to the NHL is pretty fascinating. You were undrafted, you've played roller hockey, you've played college hockey in Canada, various minor leagues … and here you are now. I think there's a lesson in there that goes beyond hockey, kind of, whatever you want to do, keep going, keep doing it, keep working at it .. a never give up type of thing. When you were going through all of that, did you ever imagine that you would be in a position where NHL teams would be lining up to try and sign you on the first day of free agency?

Ward:It's funny you say that. I will always tell everyone I think I've played every type of hockey there is on the face of the planet. I think it kind of made me humble, playing in the different leagues. I went to a Canadian University and graduated with my sociology degree, so it's definitely been a long road, but I've always wanted to play in the National Hockey League. Growing up in Toronto, you're always watching the Maple Leafs, so as a kid in this area, you're always looking for an opportunity. It's been a long road for myself and my family to this point, but the next step now is to try and go deep in the playoffs and try to do some damage.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 6, 2011 10:48 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 12:11 pm

Capitals ink Brouwer to two-year, $4.7M deal

By Brian Stubits

The Washington Capitals have signed Troy Brouwer to a two-year contract, the team announced Wednesday. Gord Miller of TSN reported the contract is worth $2.35 million per season.

Brouwer's rights were acquired by the Caps from Chicago at the draft a week and a half ago for Washington's first-round draft pick. Brouwer came over without a contract for next year, though, so a deal had to be worked out. But the fact that the Caps gave up a first-round selection to get him, you knew there was no chance they would let him walk away.

He will be a welcome sight in Washington as he brings a power game to the forward corps for the Caps. Much was made of Bruce Boudreau's transformation of the Capitals from a high-powered offensive machine that couldn't play a lick of defense to a responsible team in their own end that was subdued offensively. A player like Brouwer fits into the new mold and will help in the dirty department in D.C.

Brouwer, 25, scored 17 goals and had 19 assists last season with the Blackhawks, averaging 15 minutes per game of ice time. He is unlikely to be a top-six forward in Washington but will be a very nice contributor to the third line, if that is where he ends up.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 2, 2011 6:18 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 7:28 pm

Vokoun signs with Caps for one year, $1.5M

The Washington Capitals have signed Tomas Vokoun to a one-year contract. Scott Burnside of espn.com reports the deal is wort $1.5 million.

Vokoun was the top goalie available on the free-agent market and seemed destined to go to Colorado if he didn't re-sign with the Florida Panthers. When the Cats signed Jose Theodore, it seemed like it was just a matter of time before the Avs signed the veteran goaltender.

Apparently turned off by Vokoun's asking price, the Avs moved on by trading for Semyon Varlamov -- from the Capitals -- and signing Jean-Sebastien Giguere to back him up. That left the question lingering: where would Vokoun sign?

The Capitals had a trio of young goaltenders up until yesterday in Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby. When they shipped Varlamov -- who was close to going to the KHL -- most assumed the Caps would go with the duo of Neuvirth and Holtby. Instead, they sign Vokoun -- at a very cheap rate, mind you -- to come in and help the youngsters while trying to help the Capitals advance deeper in the playoffs.

"He's been on teams with no chance to win for a very long time," Vokoun's agent Michael Deutsch said. "The opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup means a great deal to him."

In his 13 seasons spent between the Panthers, Nashville Predators and one game with the Montreal Canadiens, Vokoun has only appeared in five playoff games. That's partly because of the teams he has had in front of him. Vokoun has continually put up one of the better save percentages in the NHL, last year posting a .922 percentage in Florida.

Signing him at such a low price considering his status as the elite and perhaps even  the only full-time starting goaltender available, is no risk for the Caps. For Vokoun, it's a significantly lower salary than I'm sure he expected to command.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

Click here for more free-agency updates.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com