Monday, July 30, 2007

Who doesnt like hair gel?

Mike Vogel has a nice interview with Steve "I heart hair gel" Eminger over at the Caps site. Eminger was made a qualifying offer by the Caps this summer, which makes me plenty happy. Vogel touches on what a lot of us think about Eminger -- he is young (23) and still learning but the talent is there. And for the record, Eminger is a native of Onatario. With such an impressive amount of hair gel use (the likes of which I have not seen since "Growing up Gotti") I had assumed Emmy was a New Jerseyan. Not so. An interview highlight:

The circumstances were somewhat out of your control, but think back to the end of February when they sat you out for that handful of games. That had to hurt you, I know you’re a proud guy and that had to hurt you sitting upstairs. Where was your head at then and where was it after you came back from that?

“It was definitely a tough time. For any player sitting out is an awful feeling. I couldn’t wait to get back in the lineup. I didn’t know when, and I didn’t know what to do because you’re [still] practicing. Your mindset is that you practice hard and you’re going to support the team and when you get the call you have to be ready to go back into the lineup. And when you get back into the lineup and you just never want to be back in that position. I had some thinking to do while I was out. I guess one of the lessons they were teaching me was that you never want to take anything for granted. You want to stay in this lineup and you want to earn this spot.”

DC is Jerky for two more years

The Caps avoided arbitration with Milan Jurcina, and signed him to a two year deal.

Jurcina will earn $850,000 next season and $912,500 in 2008-09. He made $500,000 last season.
I think Jurcina was an excellent pick up, so I am pleased to hear this. Lets hope in two years, his price doesnt go up too significantly.

Friday, July 27, 2007

K-Lo strikes again

Kevin Lowe, you are more desperate then a twice divorced 40-something on Rogaine.

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers have signed Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner to a five-year, $21.25 million offer sheet on Thursday.

The deal is for $4.25 million per season, a huge raise over the league minimum $450,000 Penner earned last season in the last year of his entry-level contract. The Ducks have seven days to match the offer. Should they decide not to match, the Ducks would receive one first-round draft pick, a second-round pick and a third-round pick from the Oilers.


Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe went after a team that doesn't have much room under the salary cap. The Stanley Cup champion Ducks are around $48 million. The Penner signing would push the Ducks over the $50.3 million maximum, but a team is allowed to be over the salary cap by 10 percent until Oct. 1.

Professional sports is a cut throat business. Unlike others in the hockey world, I'm not sticking pins in a voodoo doll of K-Lo because he went after other team's RFAs. He is the GM of a team, and as such, he has an obligation to get the job done. But do I think this mess was of his own creation? Absolutely. And do I think he is screwing other teams and the NHL in the long term? Hell yeah. So while I dont blame Lowe for going after RFAs, I do worry about the long term repercussions of that action.

As usual, Mike Vogel puts it better (and less crudely) then this blogger:
One or two renegade GMs can skew the league’s salary structure and impact contract negotiations around the league for years to come. It’s what led to the lockout of 1994-95 and the lockout of 2004-05. I hate to even bring it up, but some of the foolishness we’re seeing now could be responsible for the next NHL lockout.

It’s great for players to be able to make as much money as they can, while they can. The career shelf life of a pro athlete is a very finite thing. The problem is that once profits began turning into losses, owners are always asking the players to empty their pockets. The most recent lockout was all about owners telling the players: “We can’t stop ourselves from spending, we need your help.” That help of course, came in the form of a salary cap and a 24% rollback of existing contracts at the time. What’s next? We can only wonder.

I dont know what the solution is. Vogel throws out a proposal from former Oakland Athletics owner Charles O. Finley, who suggested that players and teams negotiate a new one year contract every year, "because it would much more accurately reflect a player’s actual “worth” at any given time." Since I cant see the NHLPA agreeing to that any time soon, I guess we are at an impasse.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

First the Staals...

I guess this makes sense. Hillary Duff has fake teeth, so does Mike Comrie. Hillary Duff is majorly rich, so is Mike Comrie. And they are both so skilled at looking anguished and tormented by the press following them around.

Hilary and fresh boy toy Mike Comrie were spotted having a romantic dinner last night at Giorgio Baldi restaurant in Santa Monica. Try the veal cutlet! Comrie is the center for the New York Islanders hockey team, but his "net worth" doesn't stop there; the Canadian pucker comes with quite a wad of cash -- as heir to the Brick Warehouse fortune. Score!

Sources tell us that the twosome have been hot and heavy since a wet weekend of jet skiing in Idaho.
UPDATE: I have confirmation of a nickname: Milary. Now I am going to go vomit.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Star hockey player drinks underage *GASP*

After reading this article, I think I actually like the Staal brothers, instead of just assuming that they are cloned robots with limited speaking ability. I mean, getting arrested at your bachelor party is pretty epic. How could I not find myself warming to them?

According to a statement released by the Cook County Sheriff's office, after the Sheriff's office received complaints about "screaming, yelling and playing loud music," the group of about 20 was warned "multiple times" before it was ordered to leave the resort by Sheriff's deputies, a Minnesota State Patrol trooper and a U.S. Border Patrol agent at 3 a.m. Saturday.

"After leaving the property, the group gathered on Highway 61 and began harassing passing motorists," the Sheriff's office said, at which point 14 members of the group were arrested at approximately 4 a.m.

"I have no doubt there were probably a couple kids lipping off or something like that," Curran said. "Frankly, that goes with the territory. You get that many a group of kids together, somebody is going to say something stupid."

In addition to Staal, 22, his younger brother Jordan, 18, and a number of his cousins were arrested as well. Jordan Staal, who just finished his rookie year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was also charged with consumption of alcohol while under 21 years of age.

First of all, who the hell has their bachelor party in Minnesota when they make millions playing hockey? I'd have flown my robot cousins to Las Vegas, where we could have partied in style. And by party in style I mean break out the blue velvet tuxes and drunkenly proclaim their love for cows because what else do you date when you live on a farm in Canada? With any luck, Eric or Jordan would have married a stripper named Dropit Likeits-Hot, and that would have been an even better news story during the off season.

In conclusion, your true crime was cheapness Eric Staal! And you deserve to be arrested for that.

Laich signed for '07-'08

Per Tarik, Brooks Laich got a nice little raise in arbirtration and will be with the Caps next season.

Forward Brooks Laich was awarded $725,000 in salary abritration this afternoon and is under contract for next season. I'm told it's a one-year, one-way contract.

Defenseman Milan Jurcina is scheduled to have his case heard next Monday.

With Laich in the fold, only Tomas Fleischmann, Jakub Klepis and John Erskine (all RFAs) remain unsigned. (And, of course, Jurcina.)

Brooksie made a mere $606,100 last season, so its a nice bump.

In other news, does Brooks have a twin out there?


NHL ticket sales

Christy from Behind the Jersey has a interesting read on which NHL teams have waiting lists for tickets. It just so happens that the Caps have seats available, so if you havent already, go buy a ticket plan and get your butt in a seat at the VC. The beers are on me.

Only ten of the 30 teams have a waiting list. Five of the six Canadian teams have season ticket waiting lists. The Ottawa Senators are the only team without a waiting list, which is surprising since they just made a trip to the SCF. The other four teams are the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, and the NY Rangers.

Interestingly enough for me, all the ten teams with waiting lists are in cooler climates and either in or close to Canada. These teams are in solid hockey markets and it only helps their ticket sales when the team is actually a playoff contender.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Emery becomes one of NHL's highest paid goalies

Ray Emery makes some cash money:

TORONTO (AP) -- Ray Emery and the Ottawa Senators avoided salary arbitration Tuesday by agreeing to a three-year deal worth $9.5 million that makes him one of the NHL's highest paid goalies.

The 24-year-old was a restricted free agent. He will earn $2.75 million next season, $3.25 million in 2008-09 and $3.5 million in 2009-10 -- for an annual average of $3.16 million, a big raise over the $925,000 he made last season. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the contract.

The only thing going on in hockey right now is arbitration, and Kevin Lowe blowing spit bubbles at the ceiling of his office. If you need a little entertainment, check out Mr. Emery in all his glory:

Monday, July 23, 2007

From the Oilers

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers signed defenseman Joni Pitkanen to a one-year, $2.4 million contract on Friday.

The 23-year-old was acquired from Philadelphia earlier this summer in a trade that sent Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul to the Flyers.

"We are very pleased to announce this signing, as Joni is a player who will strengthen our hockey club in many different ways," Oilers GM Kevin Lowe said. "He's proven himself as one of the league's top defensemen and we'll look for him to continue his solid play this season."

Pitkanen, who earned $2 million last season, had been scheduled for a salary arbitration hearing. He had four goals and 39 assists in 77 games last season.

In 206 career games, Pitkanen has 25 goals and 91 assists and 210 penalty minutes.

Hmmm....Does this mean we can expect Pitkanen to be traded this year over a contract extension, desperately wooed back in the off season (and refusing), and then for Kevin Lowe to make a 50 mil/5 year offer to Sergei Federov?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Did Bettman "overstep" bounds in Preds deal?

Very, very interesting news from Scott Burnside at ESPN. Burnside is reporting that Gary Bettman ordered Predators owner Craig Leipold to cut off team sale talks with Jim Balsillie and concentrate on selling the team to William "Boots" Del Biaggio III, who wants to re-locate the Preds to Kansas.

"We were advised by Mr. Leipold that the commissioner had found out about the existence of the negotiations and ordered him to immediately cease any further communications with us," Balsillie's legal representative, Richard Rodier, told this week.

In a series of e-mails obtained by, Leipold and Rodier discuss Bettman's alleged involvement in the breaking off of negotiations between the two sides and the commissioner's uneasiness with the prospect of a deal being signed between the two parties.
And more interesting:
Still, the accusations raise questions about whether the commissioner overstepped his bounds. The issue could lead to a showdown with the NHL's board of governors over whether Bettman acted appropriately and with the best interests of the league. The board is scheduled to meet next in September, likely in Chicago.


On one side is Bettman, whose vision of the NHL continues to be one that includes teams scattered across America, even if many of those American markets are floundering. The failure of the Predators reflects badly on Bettman's vision. Their failure is his failure.

On the other side is Balsillie, who wishes to make the Predators the seventh Canadian team in a country whose love of the game seems to know no bounds. Balsillie has made it clear he would like to own an NHL team in Southern Ontario, specifically Hamilton, a blue-collar city west of Toronto. The six Canadian teams -- Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver -- currently generate one-third of the 30-team league's revenues.

This is a must read. Who knows where this will lead but there is no doubt in my mind that people unhappy with Gary Bettman's vision for the NHL (and there are a lot of them) will view this information as a smoking gun.

OWO gets props

The Palm Beach Post ran an article today about sports blogging, and one of the featured bloggers was none other then Off Wing Opinion's Eric McErlain.

In 2002, McErlain launched his Washington Capitals blog,, from his one-bedroom apartment in Reston, Va. He occasionally went to games and watched the rest on television, blogging whenever he wasn't "busy with stuff that paid the bills."

Three years later, his blog was ready to yield rent money.

As McErlain retells it, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis discovered it at the beginning of the 2005-06 season while doing a Web search on Washington left wing Alexander Ovechkin. Intrigued by the site, Leonsis invited McErlain to join him in his luxury box for a game.

"I asked him questions all night long and he was very forthcoming," said McErlain, who works in Web communications for the Nuclear Energy Institute, a policy organization. "As a follow-up, I wrote to him that blogs are a great way to reach out to the fans."

Eventually the dialogue between McErlain and Leonsis turned to the topic of a season-long media credential. Like any pro sports team, the Capitals already had a clear policy for mainstream media members, but not for bloggers. As a condition for access, the Capitals asked McErlain to write a "Bloggers' Bill of Rights" - bloggers must demonstrate a solid track record of covering the team, submit readership statistics, and act professionally while in press areas - before agreeing to issue a full-season credential in 2006-07.

"I wrote about anything I might see," said McErlain, who drew more than 50,000 unique visitors last month. "As soon as the game ended, I published my notes and then ran down to the locker room. More often than not, we were the first site with coverage up after the game.

"I'm to the point now where I have to declare income from my blog on taxes. The profits outweigh the expenses and the blog has driven other work to me that I wouldn't have otherwise gotten: a weekly column on and I'm the lead blogger at NHL Fanhouse on AOL."

I really enjoy Off Wing Opinion and if you have not read it, head on over there. Eric really has his ear to the ground of the hockey world. Woot for Eric!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


(I was going to print this yesterday, but my Mom is staying with me this week while she rehabs a lower body injury -- ok, ok, its her ankle -- and told me to wait a day to see if I was still pissed about this article. I am, so here it is).

My issues with the "article" above:

1) Ms. Blount cherry picked the same information that 99% of sports journalists do when writing again and again about how hockey is "dead". She fails to mention that the NHL is actually doing booming business and ticket/merchandise sales are doing quite nicely.

2) There is NO SALARY WAR happening. I am a hockey blogger, I spend a good amount of my day reading articles about hockey, and I have yet to hear of a salary induced lock-out type situation that Ms. Blount implies is on the verge of happening.

3)I wont bother to go into detail on this one because everyone but sports journalists seem to understand it -- fighting is part of hockey. It has nothing to do with gratuitous violence and everything to do with protecting your team mates. Check out the post about Clark a little further down this page for an example.

4) How is the NHL tagged as the violent sport when off the top of my head I can think of at least half a dozen instances of unnecessary violence in more "mainstream" sports? What about this or this?

5) If Ms. Blount wanted to single out Boogaard for his camp, why couldnt she have done so without taking jabs at the NHL as a whole? Is someone having too much fun this summer to actually research and write a good article? She has an "expert" chiming in but doesnt say a word about the history and significance of hockey fighting.

I have other glaring problems with this article, but since my face has just turned from brown to red (not an easy task), I am going to go meditate or something.

News from Hershey

The always excellent Tim Leone has a piece out today about some of the players who took part in last week's development camp. Andrew Gordon and Sami Lepisto will be in Hershey, but expect the Cap's recent signee, Jason Morgan, to make it up in case of injuries. After finishing up the year with St. Cloud State, Gordon played on the Bear's practice squad during the playoffs and even sported the team's trademark mohawk.

Leone also speaks with Oskar Osala (how can you not love that name?) about his prospects in the pros. And Leone has some fun facts: Sami Lepisto's godfather? Jari Kurri. And Bruce Boudreau knows Jason Morgan, as he coached him in the ECHL during the 97-98 season. Some highlights from the column:

Boudreau said he likes the reality and ego check young players get when they're able to get a taste of the AHL before their formal rookie campaign.

"These kids that weren't Aces (Bear's practice squad), they come to camp and think automatically they've got a job, for one," Boudreau said. "They think, Oh, I didn't make the NHL, I'm going to eat up the American Hockey League. I think these kids [who were 2007 Black Aces] are going to be so ahead of that.

And this from the 6-4, 222 pound Osala:
"When you're big like me, you have to finish every check," Osala said. "That's just a part of the North American game. That's what I will always do.

"I try to do everything to help the team win. I try to finish my checks, shoot a lot, and try to make room for my teammates.
I would love to see Osala in Washington or Hershey soon, and from GMGM's quotes, that shouldnt be too far off the horizon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Clark inks new deal

From the Caps:

Clark and the Capitals have agreed to a three-year contract extension that has the right wing in the fold through the 2010-11 season.

Almost as soon as Clark first donned a Capitals’ sweater, it was apparent he would one day be the team’s captain. In his first preseason game as a Cap, he went after Buffalo’s Andrew Peters, a 6-foot-4, 247-pounder who had just rag-dolled Washington’s Miroslav Zalesak into the wall from behind. Four inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter, Clark jumped right into the fray on his first night in his new sweater, going to the aid of a guy he barely knew, a guy who would be headed back to Europe for the season a few weeks later.
I couldnt be happier -- Clark has been a great Captain and leader. I think he is a key component of the Caps locker room, and will be especially important with all the news faces this year.

Dave Fay (1940-2007)

Per Mike Vogel, long time Caps beat writer Dave Fay has passed away. I think Vogel says it best:

Longtime Washington Times beat writer Dave Fay, the dean of Washington hockey writers, passed away last night after a long fight with cancer. He was 67. Dave covered the Caps since the inception of the Times in the early 1980s and knew virtually everyone and everything associated with Capitals hockey. His wife Pat put it so well: “In true Fay style he battled till the end. This time even that look could not stop this disease. He fought a good fight, but now he is at rest.”

Goodbye Sasha #3

Apparently this is old news, but since I am playing catch up, please forgive me. Alexandre Giroux (or Sasha #3 as I liked to call him) was signed to a multi-year deal by the Thrashers after the Caps bid him adieu.

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Thrashers signed free-agent center Alexandre Giroux to a multi year deal Friday.

The 26-year-old Giroux had two goals and two assists in nine games with the Washington Capitals last season. Giroux also played in 67 games with Hershey of the American Hockey League, recording a career-high 70 points (42 goals, 28 assists).

I really like Giroux, so I hope this his chance to have some good NHL time. I think he is going to be a solid NHL'er.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Caps re-sign Eminger and Sutherby

From the Caps:

The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman Steve Eminger and center Brian Sutherby, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Brooks Laich and Milan Jurcina both have arbitration hearings at the end of this month. I bet we will hear about a multi-year deal for Jurcina before then.

The Caps have also signed G prospect Simeon Varlamov to a three year entry level contract, but from what Tarik writes, Varlamov will probably be spending at least another year playing in Russia.

During a brief interview with goaltender Simeon Varlamov last night, I asked him why he wanted a clause in his contract that allows him to return to Russia next season. Here's what he said:

"Because there is such a provision in my contract, that means I want to play next year at home in Russia. I want to become tougher mentally and physically, and I can do that by playing another year at the highest level back home."

It felt like Friday, the 13th...

After a trip to the GW emergency room, a badly sprained ankle, two pairs of crutches, a second hurt ankle, a trip to the Shenandoah Valley, a birthday, a second trip to the GW emergency room and several late nights (not all in that order), I am back from my (unwanted) absence. And I missed Caps Dev Camp! I am going to be playing catch up today but let me know if I missed anything good.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Caps announce 07-08 schedule

The first game will be October 5 in Atlanta against the Thrashers. The home opener will be the next night, October 6, versus the Canes. After that, we have to wait until the 18th to see the Caps at home again.

Quick update

I am swamped at work today which is unfortunate because there is so much going on in Caps Land.

Here is Tarik's take on whats going on at Development Camp today:

I'm out here at Kettler Capitals Iceplex taking in the opening morning of development camp. Not much to report yet. There are about a dozen fans in the stands and Hanlon and Boudreau are at the markerboard diagramming systems.

It's hard to tell which players look good because they're doing drills at the moment. I can, however, confirm this much: Varlamov is very quick. Unfortunately, I missed Backstrom's group because of a traffic backup.

This afternoon's scrimmage, from 4:30-6, should be pretty revealing in terms where individuals are in their development. So I'm looking forward to that. After the scrimmage is also the only time reporters can do interviews.

I'll do my best to update with news and interesting tidbits this week, but the boken-up schedule and limited access is going to make it difficult.

Don't forget all of the on-ice sessions are open and free to the public. So there's no excuse not to come out and get your July hockey fix.

And here is the Cap's full roster for camp.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

You'd have to pay me more than 9 mil a year...

... to wear a skating penguin on my chest. Maybe for that much money Sid can find a decent night light so he doesnt have to keep sleeping at Uncle Mario's place.

PITTSBURGH -- The Penguins signed Sidney Crosby to a five-year contract extension worth about $45 million that will keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2012-13 season.

Crosby, who turns 20 next month, became the NHL's youngest MVP since Wayne Gretzky when he was awarded the Hart Trophy last month. The three-year contract Crosby signed as a rookie lasts through the coming season. The extension keeps him under contract for the next six seasons.
In other news, the Capitals Development camp opened today. First scrimmage is Wed. from 4:30-6:00pm and they continue through Saturday.

NOTE: The Capitals signed RW Joe Motzko to a two-year contract today. Motzko played for the Ducks last season after being traded there in January. Sweet trade.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Capitals Development Camp

Between the July 4th festivities (beer, baseball, and veggie dogs), and then recovery from the July 4th festivities (beer), I forgot to post this:

The Washington Capitals will hold their annual summer development camp at their new training facility for the first time, July 11-14 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. The camp, which features recent Capitals draft picks, select rookie players and other prospects, includes on- and off-ice workouts.

The on-ice workouts, which will include multiple scrimmages, are open to the public. The off-ice workouts are closed to the public.

Capitals Summer Development Camp On Ice Schedule

Tuesday, July 10 Players arrive

Wednesday, July 11 On ice in two groups beginning at 8:30 a.m.; scrimmage from 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Thursday, July 12 On ice in two groups beginning at 8:30 a.m.; scrimmage from 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Friday, July 13 On ice in two groups beginning at 8:30 a.m.; scrimmage from 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Saturday, July 14 On ice in two groups beginning at 8:30 a.m.; scrimmage from 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Sunday, July 15 Players depart

The camp’s complete roster is yet to be finalized, but among the confirmed participants are Capitals first-round draft picks Karl Alzner (2007), Nicklas Backstrom (2006), Simeon Varlamov (2006), Sasha Pokulok (2005) and Joe Finley (2005). Michal Neuvirth (a 2006 second-round selection) and Maryland natives Luke Lynes (a 2006 Capitals draft pick) and Stephen Werner (a 2003 Capitals draft pick) will also attend.
PS: I forgot to mention that the Caps are getting some love from George Solomon (three paragraphs, but I'll take what I can get from the Post). Its nothing Caps fans didnt know but a little respect feels nice. Check it out at the Post and CapsChick has a breakdown.

07 draft review

Hockey's Future has a good take on how the Caps fared in this year's draft. This quote about Karl Alzner really stood out:

What separates Alzner from the pack is his approachable, light personality. Clearly someone who likes to talk, Alzner is a team-first player who will do whatever his coach and the team asks of him. When asked about his limited ice time with Team Canada at the 2007 World Juniors, Alzner responded, "I play whatever role I’m thrown into. I used that time on the bench to watch some of the best Canadian players in the CHL and in the college ranks, it was such a good learning experience for me... I'm just as good of a cheerleader as I am a player."

Friday, July 6, 2007

Capitals sign two more

Via Kukla's Korner:

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) -- The Washington Capitals signed free agent defenseman Jame Pollock and center Kyle Wilson on Thursday.

Pollock, 28, has spent the past three seasons in Europe, where he led the Sunipret Ice Tigers of the German Elite League with 22 goals and 32 assists in 46 games in 2006-07. He tied the league record for goals by a defenseman.

He played nine games for the St. Louis Blues in 2003-04.

Wilson recently finished his first season with the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, where he was the team's rookie of the year. He scored 24 goals and 54 points in 54 games.

Wilson was drafted by the Minnesota Wild 272 overall, in the 9th round of the 2004 Draft. Pollock has played 9 games in the NHL, all for the Blues during the 03-04 season.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Kevin Lowe speaks (some more)

A few highlights from the disgruntled Edmonton GM's recent interview with the Edmonton Sun. The whole article is worth reading and keep in the mind the "other" wife they are referring to is Lauren Pronger. The free agent/trade situation is bad enough that Lowe is considering going after restricted free agents and paying the penalty in draft picks.

Inviting a pair of reporters to his house to tell his version of what happened in the Michael Nylander fiasco, Lowe painted a picture of another wife who didn't want to live here.

[Lowe] says he's going to hire a concierge for the players and wives to try to make this the happiest place to play on earth

"Facts are facts and the truth is the truth," he said of deciding to speak. Lowe said it was early afternoon July 1 when agent Gillis told him 'I think he'll take the deal. He wants to come, but his wife is uncertain.' "


Then, [Lowe] pointed out, this columnist (Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones) called to inquire about the Washington Capitals announcement that they'd just signed Nylander.

Lowe finally reached Nylander.

"In a sombre voice, he told me 'I just couldn't do it.' It was like his wife freaked out, like she was being shipped to Siberia or something."

So what did GMGM have to say when Lowe called him?

"He told me he got a call from the player and cited the Mike Vernon judgment that a player is not signed until he's signed.

Lowe on attracting free agents:
"We spent a lot of time at this. Our inability to attract guys. What is it? The city? Me? What's the statement?"

He said none of the so called 'Big Three' - Daniel Briere, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez - were even open to discussion.

Its hard to read this article and not feel some sympathy for Kevin Lowe. But, this is the same man who traded away Ryan Smyth at the deadline for some prospects. The prospects might be ready in a couple years but Lowe knows that the Oilers need help now. And more importantly, he knew that at the trade deadline when he did a crap job of shopping around Smyth.

And jeez, stop blaming the wife. If a family feels like its not the best decision to move somewhere, thats a valid point.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Kevin Lowe and the Edomonton Oilers are fighting mad about not signing Mchael Nylander. Keep in mind that they have yet to sign any solid players and that the fan base is still ticked over the Smyth deal. Plus, Lowe had a good deal fall through on draft day.

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers complained to the NHL on Tuesday that they had an agreement with free agent center Michael Nylander before he signed with the Washington Capitals.

The Oilers said in a statement Nylander had reached an agreement with them Sunday, only to then sign a $19.5-million, four-year contract with the Capitals the next day. The Oilers say they held off going after other potential free agents because they thought they had Nylander.


"On Sunday, July 1, 2007, Kevin Lowe, Oilers general manager, and Mr. Mike Gillis, certified agent for Michael Nylander, negotiated and agreed to a multiyear NHL Standard Players Contract, starting in 2007-08. Mr. Gillis confirmed same to the Oilers in writing," the Oilers statement said. "However, while the Oilers were expecting the returned signed agreements from Mr. Nylander and Mr. Gillis, the Oilers discovered through public announcements made mid-afternoon on July 2, that Mr. Nylander had subsequently entered into a long-term contract with the Capitals," the statement said.

And from Tarik:

Because Nylander and Gillis did not return a signed standard player's contract to the Oilers after negotiating the terms of an agreement, sources said it's unlikely that any remedy would jeopardize Nylander's pact with the Capitals, signed and approved by the NHL.

"To our knowledge, there has been only one Standard Player's Contract executed and filed with the League, and under our CBA, that contract should be enforceable," Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly said in a written statement. "But if, after reviewing all of the relevant facts here, there has been a breach of a contractual commitment, we will certainly assist the Oilers in any way we can in seeking an appropriate remedy."

Note: Dainius Zubrus has signed a deal with the NJ Devils. I havent heard terms yet but I will update when I can.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

What will we see this season?

For the most part, the free agent frenzy is over. Now its time to throw that bottle of champagne in the recycle bin, pick the streamers off the floor, and stop kissing that picture of GMGM (think of him this way instead).

Rage, who is a full time commentator here and part time muse, started debating line combos with me this morning. So, in a completely pre-mature, who the hell knows whats gonna happen, waaay too early post, here are my thoughts on the Caps lines combos for next season.

Ovie - Nylander - Fleischmann
Semin - Backstrom - Kozlov
Pettinger - Gordon - Clark
Brashear - Sutherby - Laich/Bradley/Steckel

Line one: Ovie and Nyls are locks. The question mark is Flash. When he plays with confidence, I see him as a future #1 or #2 winger but he is largely unproven. He has been terrific in Hershey, and at times brilliant with the Caps. But Flash hasnt spent enough time with the big club for us to know if he can get through the grind of a full NHL season and still play well every night. Plus, he needs to gain some weight. "New NHL" or not, from the neck down he looks like Nicole Richie.

I do think its a possibility for Clark and Flash to flip places, but I dont know if we will be using Flash's skills to the best of his ability if we dont pair him with a solid center. Kinda like this past season with Ovie after we traded Zubrus. And Clark is a great player, but not a natural goal scorer. Being on a line with Alex Ovechkin has helped his numbers quite a bit. But I'm not hatin' on our Captain, cause I think he is great.

Second line: I cant imagine a second line that isnt Semin, Backstrom, and Kozlov. Koz will add a veteran presence to what is otherwise a very young line.

Third line: Pettinger and Gordon proved to be very solid on the checking line for the Caps. Brooks Laich played with them often this season, but I am just not sure that he stays on the third line with our current depth. I think that if the Caps are serious about giving Flash a chance, that they move Clark to the third line. He will add some more offensive upside to a line that already does pretty well with offense. Based on the above, we already have two solid lines. Wouldnt it be terrific if we had a third line that could pitch in some goals? Every playoff contender that went deep into the playoffs has had depth from lines 1-3.

Fourth line: I think Brash is an anchor on this line. Otherwise, its up for grabs. Part time enforcers Brian Sutherby and Matt Bradley might have a role here. Who really knows? Watch for Sutherby, Bradley, Erskine, and Ben Clymer to be fighting for a spot here.

Where does Dave Steckel fit into this though? We offered him a QO (perhaps just as trade bait?), so he is in the mix for now. If Steckel plays the way he did during his call up from Hershey, then I think he deserves to be on the third line. But how would the Caps juggle that? Add Steckel to the list of those who may be traded.

Some others to consider are Jakub Klepis and Chris Bourque. Bourque is ready to at least have a stint with the Caps, whether or not its a steady gig is a seperate question. He and Steckel might be on the trading block, along with Bradley, Clymer (sorry Caps Chick!), Laich and Erskine.

Defense combos:

Poti - Jurcina
Pothier - Morrisonn
Eminger - Schultz
Boumedienne - Green

These are a little trickier. I thought that Morrisonn and Jurcina were a perfect combination last season. But, there is no doubt that both (particularly Morrisonn and his penalties) could benefit from being paired with a vet. Based on development, I think Jurcina goes on the first line with Poti.

Pothier plays best when he isnt over exerted, and with minute-eating monsters Poti and Jurcina out there, I think he will do well as the #3 D-man. And he can bring Morrisonn along.

After these top four, the next D combos are up for grabs. I hope we keep Schultz, and I have faith in Green and Eminger, but I think everyone could be on the chopping block. It would be cruel, but I wonder if the Caps try to bring Clymer back to defense? He could pair up with a young'un. On the other hand, Clymer never looked very comfortable on D, and might just prefer a trade.

Possible trade bait:
D Mike Green
D Jeff Schultz (less likely unless the deal is sweet)
D Steve Eminger
F Ben Clymer
F Matt Bradley
F Brooks Laich (offered a QO)
F Brian Sutherby (offered a QO)
F Tomas Fleischmann (offered a QO)
F Dave Steckel (offered a QO)
F Jakub Klepis (offered a QO)
F Chris Bourque
D Josef Boumedienne (he might just return to Sweden)

The one thing I do know for certain? There are gonna be some long faces in the press box this season.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Nylander signs four year deal with Caps

Why is that the two days that I really need to be by a computer (first and second day of NHL free agency) are naturally the two days that I cannot seem to get near one?

Some more terrific news from the Caps:

After nearly two full days of negotiations -- and a premature report out of Edmonton -- Michael Nylander, who was the Caps' top free agent choice, is headed back to Washington. It's a four year deal. I don't know the money yet, but will get that to you as soon as I find out.

This is a critical signing for the Caps and especially for Alex Ovechkin, who finally will have a top-flight set up man to feed him passes. Nylander, 34, posted a career high 26 goals and 83 points last season while skating on the Rangers' first line with Jaromir Jagr.

The Rangers, of course, signed Chris Drury and Scott Gomez yesterday, which kind of squeezed Nylander out of the picture. Jagr, according a quote I read this morning, wasn't too happy about Nylander's departure

This is great news and nets the Caps a true first line center, not to mention a Swedish speaking mentor for Backstrom. Expensive? Yes. But based on Nylander's numbers the past few seasons and what other free agents have been signing for, it was the right price.

I'll have more on this later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Update: Nylander will be paid 5.5 mil the first three years and 3 mil for the fourth and final year.

Update 2:
Nylander's numbers from the Caps:

Nylander, 34, is a 6’1”, 195-pound native of Stockholm, Sweden, who posted career highs in goals (26), assists (57) and points (83) in 79 games for the New York Rangers last season. His 15-year NHL career has spanned seven teams, including 74 games with the Capitals in 2002-03 and ’03-04. He has posted 189 goals and 420 assists (609 points) in 808 career games, with his two best offensive seasons coming in the past two years (162 points in 160 games).

Nylander ranked second on the Rangers in assists and points in 2006-07, while leading the team in goals (six) and points (13) in 10 playoff games. He ranked tied for 12th in the NHL in regular-season assists and tied for 21st in scoring, while his 14 power-play goals shared the Ranger team lead and ranked tied for 14th in the league. His 37 power-play points ranked tied for 16th in the league. Nylander’s 1.3 points per game in the playoffs led all players whose team reached at least the second round.

A third-round choice of the Hartford Whalers in 1991, Nylander has enjoyed seven 50-point seasons in the NHL, with at least 60 points in each of his last five full seasons in the league. He has scored 23 or more goals four times, including totals of 23 and 26 goals each of the last two seasons. He is a combined +43 in the last two years and has had a positive plus/minus rating in each of his last seven NHL seasons. In 2005-06 Nylander ranked third in the league with 62 even-strength points.

Poti, Kozlov to the Caps

Some great free agent news for the Caps today:

The Caps signed forward Viktor Kozlov and D-man Tom Poti July 1st, the first day that potential free agents could be signed. Tarik has the news:

Poti signed a four-year contract that will pay him $3.5 million per season, and Kozlov agreed to a two-year deal worth $2.5 million per season.


Poti, a powerful skater who possesses a hard, accurate slap shot, is expected to add punch to the Capitals' anemic power play, which ranked 24th last season. The 6-foot-3, 202-pound native of Massachusetts directed the Islanders' 12th-ranked power play, racking up six goals and 26 assists with the man advantage. He also played significant minutes on the penalty kill unit and was 14th in the league with 170 blocked shots.

"Our scouting staff thought that [Poti] had the best year of his career last year and that he's really coming into his own," McPhee said. "We needed a left-handed shot for the power play, he's excellent on the penalty kill and moves the puck, very, very well. We've felt we've got some young defensemen who are good at shutting the other team down, but we needed a little more skill to help us out with special teams."


The 32-year-old Kozlov is 6-5, 230 pounds but plays a finesse game. He's a gifted puck handler and accurate passer and is effective in the shootout, converting 5 of 13 attempts last season. The Capitals were 1-10 in games decided on penalty shots.

Kozlov also has some chemistry with Ovechkin, having skated with him for Russia during last year's Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. Yashin was also on that line.

The most interesting part of Tarik's take was this:

Assuming Poti is the only addition on defense this summer, the Capitals' top four next season likely will include Shaone Morrisonn, Brian Pothier and Milan Jurcina. That would leave Steve Eminger, John Erskine, Josef Boumedienne and prospects Jeff Schultz and Mike Green to battle for the remaining spots.
I have to assume that Jurcina, Morrisonn and Pothier arent going anywhere. I was surprised to see Erskine offered a QO last week. He has limited hockey skills and Donald Brashear (and to some extent Matt Bradley, Brian Sutherby and others) fill the enforcer role. Seems like the Caps have a bit of a surplus on the D side, not that I am complaining. And I would like to see the prospects kept around (yes, even Eminger). Whats the point of drafting and developing players if you are not going to keep some of them to rebuild around? And they will surely benefit from having one more vet on the team.

Check out where all the "big" free agents went.