A return to Sweden looks like the likely option for Vrana (Photo: Andreas Froberg/SHL.se)
Capitals 2014 first-round pick Jakub Vrana is a talented player. The Czech forward put his skills on display at development camp this summer, where he lit up the opposition playing mostly next to another top prospect, Andre Burakovsky, and a free agent invitee, Slovene Olympian Jan Urbas.
The hirings of Kyle Dubas as assistant GM in Toronto and Tyler Dellow as analytics expert in Edmonton have sent hockey’s good ol’ boys network into a panic. The contingent of hockey pundits who tout “intangibles” have long suspected and feared a reckoning at the hands of the spreadsheets. Now that it has finally happened, they effetely plead that the new era of analysis would not begin and end with Corsi:
Here's hoping Oilers don't go all-in on flawed Corsi analysis. But I expect more from Dellow than that…
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.
Calle Johansson is one of my all-time favorite Washington Capitals players. He’s one of the most consistent two-way defenseman I’ve ever seen play and one of the gosh-darn nicest and funniest guys in the world.
That’s why this is so awkward. Around 8:50 PM on Monday night, tucked in between Alex Ovechkin’s media presser and the NHL Awards tomorrow, the Capitals’ Mike Vogel released the news that Johansson will not return next season as an assistant coach. He has stepped down and will be returning to Sweden.
Nashville beat reporter Joshua Cooper shared some pressing news on Twitter just now. Per a “source close to the situation” (how DC is that phrase?), new head coach Barry Trotz intends to bring goaltending coach Mitch Korn to DC along with him. That would mean Olie Kolzig is out.
Zubarev, who was a first-time KHL all-star as well as a World Champion this season, already had one unsuccessful stint in North America during the 2010-11 season. He played only four games with Atlanta Thrashers, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2005, and 51 with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves.
The Caps would be wise to give this late-blooming defenseman one more shot in the NHL.