If it ain’t broke. Don’t fix it. At least that seems to be what the Washington Capitals believe. After capturing the Stanley Cup last season, the team completed one of its final moves when it locked up forward Tom Wilson to a six-year, $31-year deal. And suddenly, the team miraculously has managed to bring back almost its entire roster for next season, according to J.J. Regan of Yahoo Sports.
While all teams are forced to shake up their roster and allow for the losses of free agents after each season, the Capitals are an unusual situation, considering the number of potential free agents as well as how tight their salary cap has been over the past two years. It wasn’t going to get any better, yet still, the team still was able to re-sign stud defenseman John Carlson (eight years, $64MM) as well as find a creative way to trade defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado and then bring him back after the Avalanche waived him. They also managed to hold onto trade deadline acquisition Michal Kempny (four years, $10MM).
Sure, the team did suffer a couple of losses, including the loss of fourth-line center Jay Beagle and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer. However, the team has people ready to step into those positions, including prospect Travis Boyd, free agent acquisition Nic Dowd as well as place long-time minor leaguer Pheonix Copley to fill in for a year, while the team waits for superstar prospect Ilya Samsonov to develop in the AHL for a year.
- Andrew Gross of Newsday wonders whether the New York Islanders would consider moving center Brock Nelson for a defenseman, now that the 26-year-old has agreed to a one-year, $4.25MM deal with the team. With quite a bit of youth in the wings and the team in desperate need for blueline help and the fact that Nelson could walk away from the team as an unrestricted free agent next season, a trade might make a lot of sense. Nelson has been quite productive for New York, posting at least 19 goals in his last four seasons.
- The Athletic’s Rick Carpinello (subscription required) analyzes and grades the season of New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, who took over the team’s No. 1 center position last season after the team traded away Derek Stepan. Many of the same questions about Stepan not being a No. 1 center now have fallen to Zibanejad. Yet, the 25-year-old definitely took his game up a notch, posting a career-high 27 goals in 72 games, but once again suffered an injury that interrupted his season. It marks the second straight year that Zibanejad has struggled with injuries, which is a concern and the center still must work on his consistency, including the fact that he posted no goals and one assist in the final seven games.
- Dave Isaac of the Cherry Hill Courier Post writes that if the Philadelphia Flyers are impressed by the play of 6-foot-5 prospect Philippe Myers in training camp this year, that could impact the role of defenseman Radko Gudas, who could then be on his way out as Myers physicality could replace Gudas role as well as the fact that Myers and Travis Sanheim were a great pair when they were together with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL.