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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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.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

A lot has happened over the last two weeks. Alex Ovechkin received his Rocket Richard Trophy in Las Vegas for scoring the most goals in 2013-14, and new Capitals GM Brian MacLellan started making his mark on the 2014-15 team. GMBM was aggressive in free agency, signing three players: Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, and Justin Peters.

A few days ago, the Capitals captain did an interview with Konstantin Nuzhdenov of ITAR-TASS. Ovechkin said he was upset Mikhail Grabovski was not returning. He also spoke for the first time about the team’s defensive additions.

Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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Photo: ITAR-TASS

On Thursday night, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin returned to the spotlight for the first time since he accepted his fourth Rocket Richard Trophy in Las Vegas. The re-emergence was for good reason.

Ovechkin was the head judge of Miss Moscow 2014. (Hall of famer Pavel Bure was on the panel too.)

“In my opinion everything went very well, very lovely,” Ovechkin said to TV reporter Ivan Obydenkov. “For us, the judges on the panel, it was one hundred percent clear who the winner was.”

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The Orpikalypse Test

orpik

I’m starting to get the feeling not everyone agrees about the Brooks Orpik signing. The ex-Penguin defender brings experience and grit to a blue line that lacked both, and for some that makes him a good acquisition. For others, he’s an aging, struggling player on a too-long and too-expensive contract. I count myself among that campI think Neil Greenberg at WaPo did a good job summarizing that position.

Still, there’s always a chance I’m wrong. I’ve certainly been wrong before. I was wrong about the decline of Marcus Johansson. I was wrong about the viability of the Chimera-Ward pairing. I was wrong about the Capitals’ playoff chances in 2013. I could be wrong about Orpik. Like any rational person, I reserve the right to change my mind when more information is presented.

Maybe this is a good opportunity to set terms. What would make for a successful tenure for Brooks Orpik in Washington? I’ve got a proposal for you.

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Let’s Get Olie Kolzig 10,000 Twitter Followers

Ian Oland, age 17.

A lot of people hate RMNB right now, and I don’t blame you one bit. I’m stupid, we’re all unprofessional, and our opinions are nerdy and statistical. So how about we stop talking about free agency for a minute and concentrate on something that’s actually important: getting Olie Kolzig 10,000 followers on Twitter.

Last week, Kolzig logged into to the social media site for the first time in two years to promote his new Instagram account and his new website. And early returns indicate that he is a huuuuuuuuuuge fan of hashtags now.

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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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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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