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Photo: Jeff Zelevansky

On Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Capitals announced the signing of 2014 first-round pick Jakub Vrana to a three-year, entry-level contract. The (adorbs) 18-year-old impressed in Development Camp, showing off exceptional speed, hands, and vision. He authored a nifty shootout goal that got national attention.

The signing does not mean much. Vrana is likely to be loaned back to Linkoping of the SHL for 2014-15 season unless something unexpected happens. The Czech winger was not selected during the CHL Import Draft held earlier in the month, so coming to North America for junior hockey seems unlikely– though he is eligible to play with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. In an interview with RMNB, Vrana seemed unsure if he’d attend Caps training camp during the fall. He is signed to a multi-year deal with Linkoping and the SHL season begins in early September.

Were he to play in the NHL, Vrana would make $832,500 per year. With Hershey Vrana would earn $70,000.

As we learned with fellow prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov however, just getting pen to paper can be an accomplishment worth pursuing. So someone give me a high-five and let’s party.

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Caps Re-sign RFA Nate Schmidt to Two-Way Deal

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One of last season’s brightest surprises on defense, Nate Schmidt, has re-signed with the Washington Capitals on a one-year, two-way deal. Mike Vogel reports that Schmidt will make $625,000 at the NHL level and $110,000 in the AHL.

The goofy-grinned, soon-to-be 23-year-old was probably best among all the fresh faces on the blue line. Spending nearly half of his time with Mike Green, Schmidt put up a positive possession score of 50.6%, a rarity amongst Caps defenseman last season. He has a big shot, a good first pass, and a great attitude.

With the signings of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, Schmidt will likely be relegated to Hershey– barring injury or something unexpected during training camp. Schmidt is a key part of the Caps’ blue-line depth and should receive the big minutes in Hershey that he needs– including on the power play and penalty kill– to continue his development.

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According to CapGeek and Renaud Lavoie, the Caps have signed second-round pick Vitek Vanecek to a three-year entry-level contract. Vanecek will carry a $775,833 cap hit.

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roenick-disses-grabovski

There were a lot of wacky contracts given out at the start of free agency. But if you ask 500-goal scorer and very, very articulate NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick, there were none worse than the four-year, $20-million contract awarded to Mikhail Grabovski by the New York Islanders.

“Way to go islanders!!!!” Roenick said in another poorly capitalized and punctuated Twitter rage blackout. “Making a 40pt guy a 5 million dollar player!!! Grabovski?? 5 million??? I’m going back to the gym!! Good god.”

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Agent: Tom Wilson Fractured His Fibula in a Fall

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Last week, the Washington Capitals announced that Tom Wilson suffered an ankle injury while vacationing in Canada. There wasn’t much information on the scope of the injury or how it happened.

On Wednesday, CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley got to the heart of the matter, finding out from Wilson’s agent, Mark Guy, that Wilson has fractured his fibula. That’s a bone in the leg– just in case you, like us, had no idea.

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Trotz

Photo: Chris Gordon

As the temperatures outside reached the 90s, Caps prospects and free agent invitees gathered inside a freezing Kettler Capitals Iceplex Monday for the first day of the team’s annual Development Camp. Afterwards, head coach Barry Trotz met the media. After focusing on the young players who will be Arlington this week, the conversation turned to the recent signings of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. Orpik’s 5-year, $27.5 million deal has been much maligned, as Orpik is an aging poor possession player.

Last week, new Caps GM Brian MacLellan defended Orpik’s numbers, saying he is relied upon for tough minutes and defensive zone starts. Trotz’s rationale for the signing was a little bit different than MacLellan’s, but probably just as disturbing to the Twitter intelligentsia.

“The effect is not going to be in goals and assists,” Trotz said. “It’s going to be in culture and winning and attitude.” Continue Reading

Photo: EQ Images

The Washington Capitals invited free agent defenseman Eliot Antonietti to Development Camp, which began on Monday. Standing six-foot-six and weighing 236 pounds, Antonietti is an undrafted defenseman who just happens to be humangas bigDespite his young age (he’s just 21), he already has professional experience having played 108 games in the Swiss top pro league, the NLA, one of the best leagues in Europe.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. Mikhail Grabovski is now a former Capital. Wednesday afternoon, Grabo signed a four-year, $20 million deal with the Metropolitan rival New York Islanders. The talented center will be on Long Island until he’s 34.

Grabo’s deal is one year shorter and worth $7.5 million less than the contract Brooks Orpik signed with the Caps. I can’t wait to see how well that works out.

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On Wednesday afternoon Mike Vogel of the Washington Capitals announced that second-year forward Tom Wilson suffered an ankle injury in Ontario. Wilson may miss training camp and the beginning of the regular season, which would be a huge loss on top of Dmitry Orlov’s broken wrist.

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Trotz MacLellan (8 of 13)

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

On a hot late spring day a little over a month ago, Brian MacLellan met the media for the first time as general manager of the Washington Capitals. The move to hire him was surprising, with MacLellan’s only executive experience coming under his recently fired boss George McPhee. But in his first press conference, MacLellan conveyed a more analytic tone than McPhee. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis praised MacLellan as someone who would “refresh” an organization with an already strong core.

Many fans feared MacLellan would be a continuation of McPhee, accepting the status quo and perpetually insisting the Capitals could paper over their flaws. Instead, he has transformed the team in one day, spending a stunning $67.5 million.

“I think we had some needs and we addressed them,” MacLellan told reporters. “We had cap room. Ownership gave the green light to get to the cap and we spent the money where we thought we needed to spend it the most.”

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