Ian and I got together on Monday night to talk about the draft, free agency, development camp. That was the plan at least. Instead, we talked about Transformers, Ninja Turtles, the sitcom Dinosaurs, #rmnbwedding, and our never-ending war for burrito supremacy.
UPDATE, 11:40 am: I spoke with a representative of Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic who apologized for the oversight. This kind of stuff happens, and CSN is usually pretty good at attribution, so we consider the matter closed. The original post follows.
This isn’t a hockey story, so feel free to skip over this one.
On Monday morning we published a partial translation of an interview by the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS. In that interview, Alex Ovechkin discusses the departure of Mikhail Grabovski and his feelings about Adam Oates’ dismissal from the Capitals. Our own Igor Kleyner translated from the original Russian, and Ian Oland provided the introduction. I did a sloppy proofread on the piece, which will become relevant in a moment.
The Washington Capitals’ defense was really bad last season. Adam Oates and George McPhee suited up fourteen (!) defensemen over the course of the season and got little success for their effort. Fixing the blue line was priority one in free agency for new GM Brian MacLellan, and he delivered in a big way, bringing ex-Pens Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik to town (as well as their former defensive coach, Todd Reirden).
The new Caps D-corps is definitely improved– but at a great cost. Orpik and Niskanen cost a combined $11.25M per season. Washington now sports the most expensive defense in the league (more than Philly once you factor in Chris Pronger’s sadly never-ending LTIR). With all that– rather pricey– new blood, let’s explore how the Caps might line up in October.
NHL teams have had an extra handful of days to talk to players before free agency officially begins, so some are expecting today to be more bananas than usual. Considering the first day of free agency is traditionally already pretty bananas, I’m not sure I’m ready for the sheer volume of bananas we’re about to see.
Who’s gonna get the most ridiculous contract of the day? I’m gonna say Ryan Miller. Which defender will the Caps take? I’ve got no clue. Who’s gonna make a crazy trade? Probably Hextall.
Follow all the madness below. The comments should be fun. Please go GIF bananas.
Starting at noon, it’ll be open season on unrestricted free agents in the NHL. Last year’s contracts will be up, and we’ll be inundated by a flood of exorbitant salaries and impractical terms. For the last few years the Caps have mostly been bystanders to the free agency frenzy, but with $12.7M in salary cap space, they’ll likely be a bit more active today.
I cut this video to discuss what might animate the Caps’ offseason strategy: where they stand as a franchise, what holes they need to fill, and where the problems are not.
A move to Washington would keep Niskanen with his old defensive coach, Todd Reirden, who coached the blueliner in Pittsburgh and can speak knowledgeably about the player to the Caps front office. And at a glance, Niskanen looks like a very strong player.
Let’s check out ExtraSkater.com, which is the best site on the internet next to the Benedict Cumberbatch Name Generator. Last year with Pittsburgh, Niskanen saw 53.4 percent of shot attempts belong to his team during 5v5– a number 7.3 percent better than when he was off the ice. In 2012-13, he had a 51.2 percent shot-attempt percentage, a 3.6 percent improvement compared to when he was on the bench.