I have some bad news to report. Former Washington Capitals third-line center and awesome human being Eric Fehr has joined the dark side (along with Steve Oleksy), signing a three-year, $6 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I also touched on the Caps’ depth forwards who would find themselves in the top six if poor play or an injury left a void there.
The Caps could stand to acquire some more scoring depth, but that’s an issue for another day. Today, we’re shifting focus to the Caps bottom six, specifically the third-line center role. Eric Fehr, who apparently won’t be re-signed, has been the team’s primary third-line center over the past two seasons.
But this isn’t Brian MacLellan’s Cup-winning team, it’s mine.
Unlike a top-six winger, the Caps can likely find a third-line center either internally or via free agency. Here are some of the options.
Lost in the shuffle of the Caps new third jersey news Tuesday night, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Caps general manager Brian MacLellan is trying to wrap up new deals with bottom-six forwards Eric Fehr and Jay Beagle. Meanwhile, it appears UFAs Joel Ward and Mike Green are all but certain to test the free agent market on July 1st.
On June 4, 2015, In Injury, News, By Nathan Burchfiel
On Thursday morning the Capitals announced yet another player has had an off-season surgery.
Eric Fehr had surgery on his injured elbow June 3. You’ll recall Nicklas Backstrom underwent arthroscopic surgery on his hip on May 27. Here’s what the team said about F-16:
Eric Fehr underwent a successful surgery on his elbow on Wednesday. According to the doctors who performed the surgery, if rehabilitation goes well, Eric will be healthy for the start of the 2015-16 regular season.
Fehr missed almost a month of the 2014-2015 season, including 10 playoff games, due to an upper-body injury. He becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and both Chris and Peter have suggested Frank might not return to the Caps next year.
Eric Fehr is a great many things: the greatest outdoor goal-scorer in the history of the NHL; alternately a first-line winger, a third-line center, or a healthy scratch; Washington’s second-most prolific shooter; and a children’s book author. Starting in July, he’ll also be an unrestricted free agent.
I think Fehr is one of the most undervalued and underutilized players on the Capitals roster, and he should be a priority for re-signing. Let me tell you why.
As the second period of Wednesday night’s game seven against the New York Rangers ended, Eric Fehr remained on the ice as his teammates walked to the Capitals locker room through a tunnel at the corner of the rink. He kicked his legs and circled Washington’s offensive zone for a minute before joining them. Playing his first game since April 19, Fehr had taken six shifts through two frames, a member of a fourth line that hardly received ice time.
As the game wore on and headed to overtime, head coach Barry Trotz began utilizing Fehr and Brooks Laich more. Fehr was on the ice when the Capitals iced the puck in the middle of a line change past the midway point of the fourth period. Fehr, who missed almost a month with an upper-body injury, would be required to take just his fourth faceoff of the night. He won it, but the Caps sent the puck to the other end on a failed clearing attempt. Seven seconds after beating Derek Stepan on the draw, Fehr faced Stepan again. The pair tied each other up, but Rangers forward Jesper Fast poked the puck to the point. The Capitals’ season was over a few seconds later.
Last week, Eric Fehr met the media to update them on the injury that has keep him out of the lineup for most of the playoffs. After two minutes of optimism and indirect answers, the scrum was finished. The day’s routine necessity had been completed. As the rest of the media shuffled away from Fehr’s locker, I made an offhand comment that the F-16 was getting ready for flight.
“There are some bad nicknames out there,” he told me. “Of all the nicknames to have, that’s a pretty cool one.”
I asked what he thought of his other nickname, Fehrsie.
“See, that’s the thing: I hate those nicknames,” he said. “Anybody with a last name with a –y on the end would probably be the worst one. Spelling it –ie doesn’t change anything. You need to be creative. As a group we’ve tried to be more creative with guys. We tried to change it up a little bit.”
Inadvertently, I had just stumbled on a massive scoop. Over the next 10 minutes, Fehr revealed the other hidden nicknames of the Capitals locker room. Some you might know– others you don’t.
Since ostensibly hurting his right shoulder over two weeks ago, Eric Fehr has only taken to the ice delicately, keeping his legs fresh while engaging in light movements with his upper body. Today, he joined practice for the first time since getting injured by Kyle Okposo of the New York Islanders, participating in a noontime optional skate. Capitals head coach Barry Trotz has perpetually and apocryphally insisted Fehr’s return could be imminent since the aliment occurred, but F-16 reported Tuesday that he was unsure when he would rejoin to the lineup.
“I don’t have any idea about any of those things,” he told reporters.