Arbitration season: Derek Stepan is gonna get paid

Derek Stepan. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL arbitration process is really no fun for anyone involved, since it brings negotiation into a formal setting and forces teams and their players to square off. Teams have to pretend that their own players aren’t really that good and hurt feelings can have long-standing consequences.

Which is why most arbitration cases get settled before the actual hearing. In fact, the Washington Capitals and goaltender Braden Holtby are already saying all the right things and trying to get something done beforehand. So there might not actually be much arbitration to hear about this summer, but there are some interesting scenarios nonetheless. Here’s a look at five high-profile cases:

Read more

Report: Capitals, Evgeny Kuznetsov closing in on bridge contract

Jared Clinton
Evgeny Kuznetsov (Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the names of restricted free agents filing for arbitration was released Sunday, there were two Washington Capitals listed: Marcus Johansson and Braden Holtby. Missing from the list, however, was Evgeny Kuznetsov, as it appears the Capitals and the 23-year-old center are close to a deal.

According to a report from The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, Kuznetsov’s agent, Maxim Molliver, says the Capitals are working towards a two- or three-year contract extension that would keep Kuznetsov in Washington. A short-term deal of that length means Kuznetsov would remain an RFA upon completion of the contract.

“I think we have a good dialogue,” Molliver told Prewitt. “We’re motivated to get it done. We’re having good conversations with the Caps.”

Reportedly, the deal could be worth somewhere in the $3 million range per season. Read more

Does the T.J. Oshie trade actually make Washington better?

Matt Larkin
T.J. Oshie (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals were a frontrunner for T.J. Oshie a week ago. It was public knowledge the St. Louis Blues were shopping the right winger and that the Capitals were in the market for a top-six winger who could score.

But after the Caps went out and got right winger Justin Williams July 1 as an unrestricted free agent, it comes as a bit of a surprise to see them land Oshie as well. They acquired him from the Blues Thursday for right winger Troy Brouwer, goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley and a third-round pick in 2016.

We know Washington wanted to add some skill to its top six or nine forwards. But losing Brouwer complicates things, especially if the Caps don’t re-sign UFA Joel Ward. What if they’re tipping the scale too far the other way?

Read more

UFA Decision Day looms for Mike ‘Motorcycle Gang’ Green

Stu Hackel
Mike Green (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mike Green (Washington Capitals Photography)Mike Green’s shock of dark hair – which has ranged from a Mohawk to a mop that pointed in all directions – has given way to a clean, stylized look. He’s moved from a two-story urban bachelor pad with a hot tub on the balcony to a spacious suburban home. His numerous tattoos run down his arms and onto his fingers, but since last summer, one of those fingers now wears a wedding ring.

And he’s no longer the run-and-gun, gambling defenseman labelled “mistake prone” in his own zone.

If maturity has transformed the Capitals two-time all-star, a bigger change could come this summer. Unless his Newport Sports representatives and Washington GM Brian MacLellan hammer out a new contract, Green will become the biggest name on the free agent market and perhaps pull another team’s jersey over his head.

The Capitals are the only NHL team Green, who turns 30 in October, has played for. He has literally grown into manhood in the D.C. area, even marrying a local girl, photographer Courtney Parrie, last summer, breaking hearts among those who swooned over his boyish good looks. He’s been a fan favorite since blossoming into a dynamic offensive force in 2007-08, his third NHL season, when Capitals TV voice Joe Beninati gave him the nickname ‘Game Over Green’ after a string of late game-winning tallies. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kessel, Skinner, Sharp & Bieksa trade buzz

Phil Kessel (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2015 NHL draft saw its share of trade activity involving established NHL players. Among the notables to change teams were Dougie Hamilton (Boston to Calgary), Milan Lucic (Boston to Los Angeles), Ryan O’Reilly (Colorado to Buffalo) and Carl Hagelin (Rangers to Anaheim). Even the rights of all-but-retired defensemen Flyers Chris Pronger was moved as part of a swap that also saw Nicklas Grossman shipped from Philadelphia to Arizona for Sam Gagner.

Despite this unusually high volume of players traded, several others who’ve been frequent fixtures in the rumor mill remain on the market.

On Friday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported multiple source claiming the Pens were interested in Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari reports Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner was on the Pens’ list of trade targets. Read more

2015 Draft Preview – The Washington Capitals make investments

Jakub Vrana (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Capitals pulled off a pretty neat trick the past few years: mining the second half of the first round for talent and consistently hitting on it. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Tom Wilson and Marcus Johansson all qualify, and picking in that range can be tricky. Add in no-brainer lottery pick Alex Ovechkin plus Nicklas Backstrom and you’ve got a pretty good homegrown core already. All told, Washington has drafted quite well.

PICKS:
Round 1, pick 22
Round 3, pick 62
Round 4, pick 113
Round 5, pick 143
Round 6, pick 173

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
The Caps are solid in all areas right now, but a two-way center who can also score wouldn’t hurt – someone in a Ryan Kesler mode. With Jakub Vrana in the pipeline, skill is taken care of in spades. Read more