Fan-favorite Jeff Halpern, who captained the Washington Capitals during the 2005-06 season, was signed this offseason to a one-year deal for $825,000.
Last year Halpern logged the second-most shorthanded minutes (2:20) per-game among Montreal’s forwards and also finished second on the team in faceoff percentage (56.9%). His 11 goals and 26 points were his most since the lockout ended, and he is expected to center the fourth line and see time on the penalty kill.
“He got 26 points last year, which is more than we got out of that position last year,” General Manager George McPhee said when Washington signed Halpern in July. “We want players to be able to fulfill certain roles but also generate offense.”
At the risk of being sacrilegious I am here to say, please, keep your expectations low. Very low.
One day after trading Semyon Varlamov to Colorado for a first and second round pick, General Manager George McPhee got the bargain of a lifetime when Tomas Vokoun agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Finally, a veteran goalie talented enough to provide skill and stabilization in net who could help put his team over the top.
“I don’t think we anticipated being this fortunate,” McPhee said.
Spending time with Montreal, Nashville, and the Florida Panthers for the past four seasons hasn’t given Vokoun a chance at winning too often, but could the move to Washington put him in position to win the Vezina trophy, awarded to the league’s best goaltender?
As the postseason winds down, we finally have a chance to answer the questions that have plagued us all year. And one question above all others keeps us up at night:
Who exactly is Alexander Semin?
Sure, he’s a 6’2″, 205-lbs., Siberian-born forward for the Washington Capitals; that’s the straightforward answer. But he’s also a mystery — wrapped in an puzzle — and nestled in one of those 3D illusion posters where you have to lie to people about seeing the hidden sailboat. A hat-tricking firecracker on one night and a reckless penalty factory on another, we now know two Alex Semins. But how do we tell which is which?
By all accounts it was a disappointing individual season, as much as you can call 32 goals and 85 points “disappointing.” No Hart nomination. No Lindsay, Art Ross, or Richard trophies either — none of the individual accolades we are used to seeing from the game’s most dynamic player.
So what can we expect next year for Alex Ovechkin? Will we see another Hart-worthy performance, or is another 30-goal season in the offing? The most glaring change from this season to the others, besides the diminished scoring, was the way Ovechkin was used throughout the season. Using data from Behind the Net, we can see some definite trends during even-strength and when Washington has the man advantage.
After only eleven pages, I got struck by what the authors claim is the consensus of a successful draft, summarized by Mike Futa, co-director of amateur scouting for the Los Angeles Kings:
“It’s the only job where you can be right 15 percent of the time and be ruled a Hall of Famer for success, You are going to be wrong 85 or 80 percent of the time, and if you hit on 2.5 home runs every Draft, you are par with some of the best scouts ever.”
Two NHLers out of seven players drafted, assuming no trades are made, seems like a low bar, so I decided to see how the George McPhee era has done in regards to scouting.
McPhee joined the Capitals in 1997, so the first draft we can attribute to him is in 1998. Since it takes about five years for a prospect to develop, we will look at his draft record from 1998-2006. Let’s consider a prospect a success if he has played in at least 200 games at the NHL level. That gives him five years of 40 games played to qualify.
The signing of Alex Semin to a one-year $6.7 million deal may be slightly overpaying him for a year’s work, but the length of the contract is a smart move from a cap management perspective; the chance he will perform well enough to deserve it, even over one season, is a longshot.
You knew it was coming. It happened when the Washington Capitals lost to Pittsburgh. It happened when they were ousted in the first round to Montreal. And here we are again after being on the losing end of a playoff sweep as the number one seed, discussing the inevitable: trade Mike Green.
Ovechpunch! Ovechpunch! (Photo credit: Jim McIsaac)
On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals will take on the New York Rangers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Caps haven’t faired well against New York this season, losing three out of four regular season games including 6-0 and 7-0 shutouts. In fact, the 7-0 shutout was so bad, Alex Ovechkin found it necessary to fight. However, that was then. This is now. Let’s take a look at the numbers to preview what should be an interesting matchup.