The Caps Should Claim Steve Oleksy Off Waivers

The Pittsburgh Penguins put Steve Oleksy on waivers today, and the Caps should claim him. If Taylor Chorney is the current presumptive 7th D when the regular season starts, Oleksy would be an appreciable upgrade. He’d also save the team a little cap space, as Oleksy, at $575k, is cheaper than Chorney at $700k.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

The Caps lost a few really important penalty killers this offseason, meaning Barry Trotz will have to entrust different players with those minutes in 2015-16. Last season, the Caps allowed 79.1 shot attempts per 60 when shorthanded, fifth worst in the league. The Caps three best shot-suppressing forwards when shorthanded were Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer, and Eric Fehr, but all three of these players have moved on to new teams.

This could mean an increase in PK minutes for returning players such as Jay Beagle, Brooks Laich, and Jason Chimera, but Trotz also has newcomers he can plug into the PK vacancies. And, so far, he has. TJ Oshie and Justin Williams have both spent time on the PK during the preseason.

Let’s take a look at what Oshie and Williams have done in the past as penalty killers to see if they’d be viable options for Trotz this season.

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Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks, 2015 NHL Western Conference Semifinals

Photo: David E. Klutho

On Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks announced to the world that they are completely bonkers re-signed defenseman Brent Seabrook to an 8-year, $55 million deal that carries an annual cap hit of $6.875 million. The deal kicks in for the 2016-17 season and will expire after the 2023-24 season, at which time Seabrook will be 39-friggin-years-old.

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Photo: Addison Huber, 2010

The Caps drafted Stan Galiev in the third round of the 2010 draft. After failing to establish himself as even an AHL regular prior to last season, Galiev finally showed promise in 2014-15, posting 45 points in 67 games for the Hershey Bears and one goal in two games for the Caps. The skillset on display last season has given some high hopes for Galiev’s future in the NHL.

Josh W. (whom you should follow on Twitter) of Canucks Army recently wrote a useful post in which he establishes baselines for AHL prospects achieving NHL success. The rub is this: Despite Galiev’s strong showing in the AHL in 2014-15 and his high-end skill set, chances are he will not grow into an NHL regular.

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The Caps Project to Be a Top-Ten Team, Maybe Better

Photo: Amanda Bowen

Editor’s note: We’re turning the site over to Don’t Tell Me About Heart for an educated outsider’s perspective and projection on the upcoming season.

How often does a team need to be called a dark horse until we can acknowledge they are simply good? I think the Washington Capitals are safely approaching that status for the 2015-2016 season. All the stars all seem to be aligning for the Capitals to have a strong year. Anytime you have a lineup containing a top-5 starting goalie, one of the leagues best playmaking centres and probably the greatest goal scorer in NHL history you are definitely starting off on the right foot. Add in the offseason acquisitions of TJ Oshie and Justin Williams along with the expected progression of promising young guns Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov, that is a scary team.

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Travis Yost recently discussed the utility of individual point percentage (IPP) in forecasting player performance. The article is a great introduction to IPP, so I recommend reading the entire thing if you’re not familiar with the concept.

Here’s a excerpt:

Another metric I like to look at is ‘Individual Point Percentage’ (“IPP“), which shows how frequently a player was awarded a point in an event his team (a) scored; and (b) the player was on the ice. Much like our on-ice save percentage example for defencemen, IPP regresses substantially towards league averages. On average, forwards usually receive a point on about 68 per cent of goals scored when they are on the ice. That number sits at about 30 per cent for defencemen.

Context is key: we simply can’t treat all players as equals in a hockey vacuum. Sidney Crosby(84.8 per cent) and Erik Karlsson (49.4 per cent) lead career IPP and it’s not a fluke – they’re constantly involved in the run of play, and as such, pick up extra points along the way. If we want to identify outliers, we must first observe strong deviations from the league norms, and then observe strong deviations from a player’s career norms.

Let’s apply this to the 2015-16 Capitals.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

The Caps’ trade for TJ Oshie was widely regarded as a win for the Washington. The Caps got the most skilled player in the deal and didn’t mortgage the future to do so. But there was also a countervailing argument, even from those who thought the Caps came out ahead in the deal, that the team was moving away from a “heavy” style of play and towards a more skilled, finesse game. Given the comings and goings of Caps’ forwards this offseason, this is partially true.

But one area often associated with a “heavy” style of play where Oshie, perhaps surprisingly, provides an upgrade over Troy Brouwer is net presence. Specifically: generating shots from inside the slot.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

Two weeks ago, I took a look at how Justin Williams compares to the Caps 2014-15 wingers. Today, it’s TJ Oshie’s turn. Here’s his HERO chart.

Story 1

Oshie is a top-six forward and a clear upgrade over the only roster player the Caps gave up to get him, Troy Brouwer.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

On July 1st, the Caps signed Justin Williams, inking the top-six forward to a 2-year, $6.5 million deal. Peter included Williams’ HERO chart in an earlier post, but here it is again in case you need a refresher.

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Over the past three seasons, Williams has clearly been a top-six forward. While he’s soon to be 34, so concerns about him slowing down are valid, it’s reasonable to assume Williams will at least be a serviceable top-six forward for the next two seasons. This is a boost to a Caps forward corps that needed an upgrade.

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Have you finished running around the block and telling your neighbors that the Caps traded for T.J. Oshie? Now that you’re back inside, let’s talk about this. I’m sure we’ll have plenty more on Oshie and Justin Williams in the coming days, but here’s a wide-angle look at the newest member of the Caps.

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