Five free-agent signings making an early impact

Justin Williams (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The salary cap era has made it increasingly difficult for GMs around the league to improve their clubs through trades. As such, it has put more importance on being able to lock up the right free agent to add to a team’s already stacked roster or be the piece that can change the tides.

If the 2015 free agent market will be remembered for anything, it will be the cost-conscious ways of GMs league-wide, which led to some free agents having a difficult time finding work. Veteran winger Curtis Glencross, for instance, chose to retire instead of heading any further into the season without a contract. Blueliner Cody Franson, who doesn’t appear on this list, waited almost the entire off-season before signing a deal with Buffalo.

But even in a tight market, there are more than a few GMs would made savvy signings, be it by dishing out top dollar or using a cost-effective model. Here are five free agent signings who have been well worth their money: Read more

The Washington Capitals put on a passing clinic topped off by Kuznetsov’s slick goal

Jared Clinton
Evgeny Kuznetsov (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

So far this season, it looks like the Washington Capitals have built one of the most lethal lines in all of hockey.

The unit of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and off-season acquisition T.J. Oshie has been outstanding for the Capitals in 2015-16 and Friday night against the Edmonton Oilers the line put together one of the most gorgeous goals of the year.

Ovechkin was coming down the left wing when he cut into the Oilers zone and rifled a pass all the way across the Edmonton zone onto the tape of Oshie. He had the space to shoot, but instead of electing to put the puck on goal, Oshie made a perfect one-touch pass that split two Edmonton defenders and landed right on Kuznetsov’s tape. Kuznetsov received the pass and pulled it across his body and left Oilers goaltender Anders Nilsson looking foolish:

Ovechkin’s not really known for his passing ability, but his feed across the zone was a thing of beauty that made the whole play possible. As soon as Ovechkin makes his pass, Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins turns to defend the pass instead of sticking with Kuznetsov. If Nugent-Hopkins stays stride-for-stride with Kuznetsov, there’s no passing lane for Oshie. Instead, one opens up and Oshie is able to make a gorgeous pass that leads to the goal.

The Capitals top line managed combined for nine points in Washington’s 7-4 victory, including a hat trick for Kuznetsov, which was capped with a power play goal with three minutes left in the third frame. It’s far from surprising that the line has amassed a total of 27 points this season, with Kuznetsov, not Ovechkin, leading the charge with three goals and 11 points through seven games.

Ryan Miller robs Alex Ovechkin in first period, Ovechkin later gets revenge on identical shot

Jared Clinton
Ryan Miller stops Alex Ovechkin (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s nothing quite like a good duel between a shooter and a goaltender and that’s exactly what Washington Capitals superstar sniper Alex Ovechkin and Vancouver Canucks veteran netminder Ryan Miller engaged in Thursday night.

The battle between Miller and Ovechkin lasted the entirety of Thursday’s game, but it really kicked off in the first frame when Ovechkin and Washington defenseman Karl Alzner turned a Vancouver offensive-zone turnover into a 2-on-1 break the other way.

With Chris Tanev the lone man back for the Canucks, Alzner waited until the Vancouver defenseman committed to stopping the cross-ice feed and fired a perfect saucer pass to Ovechkin. In one motion, Ovechkin hammered the puck on net and Miller lunged to his right to stop the shot: Read more

Curtis Glencross passes on opportunities overseas, retires at 32

Curtis Glencross. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Less than 10 months after the Washington Capitals acquired Curtis Glencross as one of their big trade deadline pieces, the veteran left winger has decided to call it a career.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Tuesday that Glencross, 32, has said he intends to retire and isn’t interested in pursuing any potential playing options overseas. Other veteran players have found ways to continue their careers in leagues like the SHL or KHL, but Glencross isn’t going to be going down that road.

“We have weighed our options and with the young family I’m enjoying a lot of firsts with them,” Glencross told Dreger.

Glencross’ decision comes as a surprise considering as recent as this past off-season he had latched on with both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche on professional tryout contracts. Though he wasn’t able to find a fit with either organization, he would have certainly provided some offensive punch were either team willing to offer him a deal, but both organizations were looking to get younger, not add veterans. Read more

From Ovechkin to Jagr, 10 NHL milestones to watch for this season

Jaromir Jagr (Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images)

Highly touted rookies such as Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid, Max Domi and Nikolaj Ehlers have already notched their first NHL goals, earning their first major milestone. But while rookies build their careers from the ground up, a number of wily veterans are chasing some big-time career marks.

Already this season, Steven Stamkos and Tomas Plekanec have reached the coveted 500-point mark for their careers. Both reached the milestone with goals within the last week, but there are a few players who can reach even greater heights this season — we’re talking Hall of Fame-calibre milestones.

Take Jaromir Jagr, for instance. The 43-year-old ageless wonder is already a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, but he has six points in his first four games with the Florida Panthers this season and continues to inch ever-closer to the top of the all-time scoring list. Jagr’s teammate, goaltender Roberto Luongo, is also moving up the ladder when it comes to all-time marks for netminders and should be able to reach a couple in 2015-16.

Here are the top 10 milestones to watch this season: Read more

Alex Ovechkin was held out of Tuesday’s game because he overslept, missed practice

Jared Clinton
(Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Washington’s Alex Ovechkin was absent from practice Tuesday, coach Barry Trotz said it was for “personal reasons” and the superstar was a game-time decision the Captials’ game against the San Jose Sharks. Turns out those personal reasons were a simple alarm clock error.

According to The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, Ovechkin set his alarm for 8:30 p.m. instead of 8:30 a.m., which caused him to miss the Capitals’ morning skate. Because Ovechkin missed the practice, he was held out of the game, as per team rules. When he arrived at Washington’s practice facility late, Trotz told the ‘Great 8’ that he wouldn’t be in the lineup against San Jose. Read more

The top five plays from the first week of the NHL season

Alex Ovechkin (Getty Images)

The first week of the NHL campaign is nearly in the books, yet it feels like there’s already a full season’s worth of highlight-reel material that can’t even crack the top five plays that have been made this season.

A number of rookies scored their first NHL tallies, 3-on-3 overtime was an exciting change of pace from the shootout and a few teams tugged on the heartstrings to open the campaign. But the top five plays of the opening week range only feature one first-career goal, with two NHL veterans stealing the show.

Here are the top five plays from the first week of the season: Read more