Alex Ovechkin Has Favorited One Tweet; It Was His Own

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Tampa’s Steven Stamkos set off a mini firestorm this week just by favoriting a tweet that wondered aloud if he might ever play in Toronto. One month earlier we saw the same thing with Winnipeg’s Evander Kane, who favorited a tweet requesting that he come play for the Flyers.

Social media is a wild and wacky world; one that we as a society don’t fully understand. I deal with this a lot in my day job. Stuff is just not clear. Twitter’s “favorites” feature in particular is kinda poorly designed. It means different things to different people, and the feature is not nearly as private as the name suggests.

But the point I really want to make is this: Alex Ovechkin has favorited just one tweet, and it was his own.

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Photo: Doug Pensinger

After spending most of 2013-14 with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Capitals’ center prospect Michael Latta is now poised to gain a full-time roster spot in Washington next season. Acquired at the 2013 trade deadline in the infamous Forsberg-Erat trade, Latta had one goal and four points in 17 NHL games last season but left a good impression, winning 52.2% of his face-offs and playing an effective, physical game on the fourth line. Latta was one of the team’s best players at drawing penalties, leading the team in penalty differential.

After signing a two-year contract on July 1st, Latta is practically guaranteed a roster spot in the NHL next season.

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The Washington Capitals were aggressive on the first day of free agency, adding three players to their roster: Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, and Justin Peters. Ted Leonsis wrote on his blog that the Caps “added offense, versatility, and experience in Niskanen and signed a shutdown D-man in Orpik.”

He also added, “priority No. 1 was to upgrade our defense, and we made significant strides today.”

I agree. The Capitals will dress better defenders next season. The team’s defense in 2013-14 lacked a true top pairing and the third pairing hemorrhaged shots on net all year, no matter who was put on the ice. The Caps were either going to have to be aggressive via trades or free agency, or they’d have to wait a few seasons for prospects to mature (Nate Schmidt, Patrick Wey, and Connor Carrick).

Caps GM Brian MacLellan decided to go the UFA route. Despite spending a ton of cash (nearly $70 million) and landing perhaps the best defenseman on the market, the mainstream hockey media filleted MacLellan for his moves.

Let’s review.

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Christian Ehrhoff’s buyout makes him the best defenseman available. (Photo: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Caps didn’t acquire any NHL players at the draft, so they now look to fill empty roster spots in free agency, which begins at noon.

The team’s primary need is a top-four defenseman who can play with Karl Alzner, Mike Green, and John Carlson. Dmitry Orlov did an okay job at that role last season, but the Caps may want to see a more seasoned player there, especially if playing away from Mike Green might mean Orlov could better utilize his offensive tools.

Here’s my take on four options for defense on the open market.

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Andre Burakovsky and Jakub Vrana slid during their draft years but got selected in the first round by the Caps (Photos: Getty Images)

Andre Burakovsky and Jakub Vrana have a lot in common. Both are high-octane offensive wingers who made names for themselves by putting the puck in the net. And both were drafted out of Sweden after impressive showings at the U18 World Championships.

But they have one more thing in common: both saw their stock drop significantly during their draft years after struggling to adapt to the professional game in Sweden.

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On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals published a guide for the upcoming NHL draft (June 27th), and it is awesome. One thing that I learned is that the Caps have historically been active on draft day. The team has made 20 draft day trades overall, including one in each of the past six years. The most notable moves lately have been the acquisitions of Troy “No Emmy” Brouwer and Mike “2 Chainz” Ribeiro.

If you take a fine-toothed comb to that list, one stunning factoid reveals itself. The Caps have essentially traded away two hall of fame players in draft day deals and gotten none in return.

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Connor Carrick’s Golf Stance (Photo)

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Photo: @RealConorWierus

I’ve never played golf before, but I’m pretty sure I know a terrible golf swing when I see one. On Friday night, Washington Capitals defenseman Connor Carrick went to a Chicago golf course with some friends and– this is just an educated guess— played golf for the very first time.

Happy Gilmore was a natural in his transition from hockey to golf (putting aside). Carrick, not so much.

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Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is going to win the Hart trophy at the end of the season. Not only was Sid the only guy to score 100 points this year, he is also a good defensive player too. That’s why on Friday night against the New York Rangers, I was surprised to see Crosby completely give up on a play in the defensive zone.

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The Micromanager: Adam Oates’s Downfall

Breakdown Day (12 of 12)

Gone. (Photo: Chris Gordon)

Adam Oates is a smart man. After going undrafted out of college, he turned into a Hall of Fame player. It wasn’t his skill that made him an NHL success, but his elite ability to notice things other people didn’t. Oates had a coaching mind in a player’s body.

“If Adam notices something in a game, he adjusts right away,” Ron Wilson, then the Caps coach, told SI in 2001. “Even if it’s only how somebody is holding his stick. He takes the information, processes it, and puts it to use. The thing about Adam is that he assimilates a lot of stuff at once. Most guys might see one or two things, and the rest is a blur.”

However, years later, when Oates became head coach of the Capitals, that obsession with improving individual players would undermine the team as a whole.

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Andre Burakovsky‘s junior team, the Erie Otters, kicked off the OHL Western conference finals against Guelph Storm on Thursday.

The series features the league’s two best regular-season teams and could become the best match-up of the playoffs, featuring three NHL first-round draft selections (Burakovsky, Brendan Gaunce, and Jason Dickinson) as well as three shoo-ins to be picked in the first round of either 2014 or 2015 (Robby Fabbri, Connor McDavid, and Dylan Strome).

Game One more than lived up to the hype: the teams combined for nine goals on 53 shots, trading the lead all game long. Guelph won 5-4 at home and retained home-ice advantage. Burakovsky, playing on the Otters second line with Strome and Michael Curtis, was the catalyst of Erie’s attacks, earning third star of the game honors.

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