tyler-lewington

Lewington is #5 in black. (Photo: Marissa Baecker)

Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals announced the signing of Tyler Lewington to an entry-level contract, which will kick in during the 2015-16 season.

Lewington first came to prominence when he dominated several strength categories at the 2013 NHL Draft Combine. Despite that, he fell to the seventh round of the draft, where the Caps snagged him 204th overall.

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Jussi Jokinen, Marcus Johansson,Troy Brouwer

Photo: AP

With just a few days left before a trade deadline, managers around the NHL are comparing their teams to the rest of the league and looking for the pieces needed for a playoff run. With the new playoff format, it’s especially important to overmatch the division rivals you are likely to face early in the postseason.

The Caps, despite sitting just fourth in the Metropolitan division, keep up with the teams above them in most statistical categories. But there is one area in which they are struggling: the second line.

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ted

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Washington DC yesterday. While he was in town, he took in the Caps-Pens rivalry game from the owner’s box at Verizon Center. Bettman also held court with the local media.

When asked about the growth of hockey in the DC Area over the last decade, Bettman marveled at the job both Alex Ovechkin and Ted Leonsis have done. Seconded.

“It’s the Ovechkin era and there’s an era that’s a little bit longer than that one and I would call that the [Ted] Leonsis era,” Bettman said beaming. “I think Ted’s ownership of this franchise has been nothing short of phenomenal in terms of how the community has been engaged and in terms of how fans have connected with and interacted with this franchise; the stability of ownership and management has been very important.”

Then it got weird. Bettman credited (I think) definitely-not-Washington Capital Evgeni Malkin.

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ovechkin-tikhonov

Photo: Getty Images

SKA St. Petersburg’s forwards Artemy Panarin and Viktor Tikhonov intend to come over to North America this summer, as reported by Mikahil Zislis and Konstantin Nuzhdenov of the national news agency TASS. Tikhonov’s versatility and proven chemistry with Caps’ captain Alex Ovechkin should immediately put him on Washington’s radar. Panarin oozes offensive talent and has high-reward potential for any NHL team.

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christian-djoos

Photo: Simon Hastegard / Bildbyran

It has been a pleasant surprise to see Christian Djoos, drafted by the Capitals in the seventh round in 2012, fare well in Sweden.

Boxcar stats don’t do justice to this subtle blueliner. He looks mature regardless of his ice time. During the few occasions I saw Djoos get off to a rough start in games — sometimes just because of rotten luck — he proved mental toughness in bouncing back and not letting his game fall apart.

Djoos might not wow you on any given night, but he’s always consistent with his play.

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alex-ovechkin

Photo: Julio Cortez

Alex Ovechkin can score goals. Everybody knows that. His lamp-lighting ability is unmatched in this generation (sorry, Stamkos). And as Ovechkin takes aim for Peter Bondra’s Capitals franchise goal record (472, just 23 away), I asked myself how the Russian machine stacks up against the league’s all-time greats.

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ovi-tarasenko

Photo: Dave Sandford

In an interview with SovSport on Saturday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was asked straight up if he wanted to return to Russia next year. Ya know, to debunk the rumor once and for all so we could all move on. Instead, Ovechkin left the door open for a possible return and even sounded like he has put a lot of thought into the idea.

Sigh.

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Jakub Vrana, Riley Barber, Madison Bowey

Three Capitals prospects have made the semi-annual list of the 50 best affiliated NHL prospects compiled by ESPN’s Corey Pronman. The list includes only players not currently on NHL rosters. This time, the ranking is topped by the Leafs’ forward William Nylander.

Following a mediocre World Junior Championship, Jakub Vrana, 13th overall pick of 2013 Draft, finishes seventh in Pronman’s rankings.

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leon-draisaitl

Photo: Shaughn Butts

The WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, home to the Caps’ second-round pick and World Junior champion Madison Bowey, have gone all-in on the Memorial Cup, acquiring Winnipeg Jets’ top prospect Josh Morrissey from the Prince Albert Raiders last month. Now the Rockets have made another all-star caliber addition to their already-impressive roster by trading two roster players and three draft picks for another Raider, Leon Draisaitl, third overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, in advance of Friday’s WHL trade deadline.

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Photo: Pavel Mazac/CIHA

Capitals’ first-round pick Jakub Vrana scored two goals and one assist in five games at the World Junior Championship before his Czech Republic fell to Slovakia 0-3, failing to make the semifinals for the tenth straight tournament.

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