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Recapping the Caps

The young stars on the Washington Capitals will carry the load for them again this season. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The young stars on the Washington Capitals will carry the load for them again this season. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s Friday, Friday, THN.com mailbag on Friday! Rebecca Black, anyone? OK, I’m sorry for ruining your Friday with that reference. But look at it this way – now the mailbag has nowhere to take you but up!

Adam, I don't hear much about the Washington Capitals. What is in the future for this team? Who are the key players that can hold them together?
Don J. Murphy, Albuquerque, N.M.


Don,

What?!?! You don’t hear much about the Caps?!?! I wasn’t sure what your story was until I saw where you’re from – Albuquerque, the home of the best show on TV, Breaking Bad. If you tell me you live in an RV on the outskirts of town, I’ll be very suspicious!

Anyway, the future for this team is what it has been for a few years now: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Brooks Laich and other young Capitals. However, I think they added a slew of players this summer who can push them deeper into the playoffs – and yes, potentially all the way to a Stanley Cup championship.

Those newly acquired players include forwards Joel Ward and Jeff Halpern, defenseman Roman Hamrlik and goalie Tomas Vokoun. All of them are veterans and three of the four (Ward being the exception) are much closer to the end of their NHL days than the beginning – and I think that gives the Caps a sense of desperation that simply wasn’t there in the 2011 post-season (and that clearly was there in the form of Dwayne Roloson and the Tampa Bay Lightning team that eliminated the Caps).

If Ovechkin and the young core continue to grow and the new faces provide that desperation when it counts, there’s no reason Washington can’t do a lot of playoff damage.

Hey Adam, I was wondering whether the Oilers would be able to get a good defenseman for the combo of Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky. The Oilers now have some great young talent up front and if Gagner didn't improve he would just fall through the cracks. And Hemsky, while one of the Oilers’ best players as of right now, is injury plagued and lacks a good set up man. Could the Oilers entice anyone into that kind of deal?
Zachary Bliss, High Prairie, Alta.


Hey Zachary,

I know that, regardless of how I attempt to dissuade you or any reader from sending me trade propositions, they’re going to keep coming. So I’ll just have to repeat from time to time what I always repeat: There are always so many moving parts to any trade, it is impossible to guess what teams would take on any particular player(s).

For instance, the likelihood of Gagner or Hemsky being dealt individually can’t be accurately gauged, because the season hasn’t yet begun, teams don’t know how their rosters will translate from paper to on-ice action and injuries haven’t forced some GMs into a position of need. Trading them together is a more complex proposition and thus even more unlikely.

There’s nothing wrong with being a fan and daydreaming about trade possibilities, but I would be doing you (as well as any players we speculate about) a disservice to suggest specific swaps or destinations. It’s wasted breath/bytes.

Hi Adam, with the NHL’s Research and Development Camp testing Brian Burke's "bear hug" proposal, am I the only one who sees the potential for even more dangerous hits when players are racing for the puck? Asking players to "guide" opponents into the boards is a nice euphemism in my opinion. We're asking players who seem to have no respect for each other to take control of an opponent and drive them in the boards.

This, to me, opens up the potential of more slew-footing and checking defenseless players into the boards. If the league and its players can justify blindsides as hockey plays, I'm sure it will be years before they find anything wrong with this scenario.
Francois Levesque, Moncton, N.B.


Hi Francois,

I appreciate where you’re coming from here, although I do think it’s worth testing out the bear hug proposal further, either at the American League level, or again at the next R&D camp.

That said, your argument plays right into my main suggestion as to how to make NHLers more responsible for their play: significantly increased suspensions. Regardless of the rules put in place, if a player is aware he won’t suffer serious financial repercussions for his actions on the ice, there is no real reason for him to change his approach.

However, if he knows he’ll miss one-tenth or more of a regular season – and the money that he’s due to make in those games – there’s not a doubt in my mind he will make the necessary adjustments to his game sooner or later.

New rules are often good reactions to evolutions in the sport, but nothing scares anybody quite like a draining bank account.

Adam, any word on the health of Marc Savard and Mark Streit? Reports from earlier this summer on the status of Savard make it seem unlikely that he will return this season, if ever. As for Streit, I have not been able to find anything indicating how his recovery has progressed. If you could provide an update on how these players are progressing that would be appreciated.
Jeff LeBlanc, Ottawa


Jeff,

Savard’s playing future is indeed in limbo. He’s still having serious memory problems and other post-concussion symptoms and has no set timeline for a return.

Streit, on the other hand, is healthy and ready to play an important role for the Islanders this season. As noted in the latest edition of THN, Streit averaged 39 assists in his first two years on Long Island – one more than Isles assist leader John Tavares had last season – and his return from a serious shoulder injury will be very welcome for GM Garth Snow’s young squad.

Adam, when is a good time to take a sentimental favorite for your work fantasy pool?
Rick. D. Eye, Prince George, B.C.


Rick,

I’m not the fantasy pool expert around here – that job falls to Darryl Dobbs – but I’ve been in enough drafts to know that you take a sentimental favorite in one of the final few rounds. No sense in proving your fandom for a particular player at the expense of drafting a big-time point producer at the start (or even in the middle) of the selection process.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.

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