Monday, June 30, 2008

Caps Moves of Late and What's Next..

As we approach the beginning of the free agent signing period tomorrow how are things shaping up here in DC?

The Caps still haven't inked a deal with Christobel Huet, Brooks Laich or Mike Green. Per Corey, it seems as though unless something "stupid" happens, Huet will be back a Cap though before that happens he may get another offer to set his value. From the sound of it, discussions are ongoing between Laich and the Caps as well as Green and the Caps though it also appears that they too (or at least their agents) want to see what kind of offer sheets they can get signed before asking the Caps to match them. Given the importance of these three players, it's possible that nothing in the way of signings happens for the Caps today. This week could get pretty wild and woolly starting tomorrow.

Of course the big news so far was the Ryan Malone signing and then the Oilers - Kings trade. Tampa Bay looks to continue to be very active as the acquisition of Brian Rolston's rights from the Minnesota Wild indicates.

Can't wait till next season. LETS GO CAPS!!!!!

Been Waiting For Caps News All Day But The Big Sports News Today Was In Omaha

As those looking through the blogsphere and monitoring the mainstream media already know at least as of 10:40 PM EDT Sunday, June 29, 2008 - no news on the Huet or Green negotiations.

The big sports news today is that Michael Phelps shaved just a shade less that a full second off his own world record today for the 400 Meter Individual Medley. Katie Hoff, now 19 and ready to take the world stage she was prematurely thrust upon last Olympics, also set a world record shaving 3 tenths of a second of the woman's 400 IM record today as well. Both Phelps and Hoff are from the Baltimore - Washington area. Think about how big a deal that is - breaking your own prior world record by 97 one hundredths of a second. Phelps is a beast - in the best and most complimentary of ways. In track and field, Tyson Gay ran a wind-aided 9.68 second 100 meter dash - the fastest time clocked at that distance ever as well. The swimming and the track & field Olympic Team trials are shaping up in a manner that bodes very well for projected medal counts. Phelps is potentially looking to try and capture 8 medals in these games and break Mark Spitz's records. He got off to a good start today. His swim in the 400 IM finals, as well as second place finisher Ryan Lochte's, was a thing of beauty.

As for the free agency news watch one of the most interesting thing happening this week was the moves made by Pittsburgh. Over in Penguin-land, GM Ray Shero started dealing with the reality and carnage that is the Penguins salary cap challenge by dealing the rights to dealing the rights to hometown hero Ryan Malone, as well as Gary Roberts to Tampa Bay yesterday. In other NHL news last week, the Anaheim Ducks re-signed former Cap Brian Sutherby to a one year, 700,000 contract.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Winding Down In Bristow After A Busy Week -

Still Waiting for News on Caps Signings Though

It's been a good but busy week for those of us at ICx Technologies these past 5 days. The team I'm part of and the teams we work with have spent the past week "moving the ball forward" on four large new business projects we've been working on. Yesterday, we submitted our team's proposal for an operations & maintenance contract of advanced CBRNE sensors at the Pentagon. It's a competitive proposal and several other companies are also bidding on it,so now it's wait and see on that one. It's always a hectic time right before you submit a proposal and Friday was certainly no different. On Wednesday Afternoon and Thursday, I was in New Jersey at one of our operating units where a large proposal which we are a key subcontractor was audited by the Government accounting folks as part of the normal proposal review and selection process they go through. On Monday and Tuesday I worked on getting ready for those two items and on two other new business capture/start up efforts we have in process one smaller effort working with the Department of Defense to do a "Joint Concept Technology Demonstration" for the next generation of integrated force protection technologies and the second was preparing answers to questions on a very large proposal we have in process for an integrated, modular CBRN sensor "kit" for military reconnaissance units. It's all good, all the time and I enjoy being busy, time flies and it's very easy to stay totally, mentally engaged. Of course, we didn't start all these things at the same time and had believed they would finish in sequential or at least somewhat staggered fashion so we could more easily "focus & finish". However, that doesn't necessarily appear to be the case so a burst of frenetic activity in the early summer is called for - something in common between our management team at ICx Technologies and the management team over at Kettler Center and the Capitals.

While we at ICx have been busy and have driven a few things to conclusion this past week, unfortunately the Caps management didn't manage to sign any of their Restricted or Unrestricted Free Agents this past week. While the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals and it Hockey World Championships were exciting; and the 2007-2008 NHL Awards were fun to watch, so far the roster maintenance and enhancement efforts by the Caps have been, thankfully, moving at a deliberate uneventful pace with no surprises. I had hoped a few things would break this past week but since there's been no bad news about any key players they need to re-sign, I've taken a "no news is good news attitude.". I have found the current speculation as to whether the Pittsburgh Penguins will be able to hold together their tremendous, youthful team core is interesting as well. Surprised about the speculation are you? Perhaps its that after this season, the Penguins have 15 players who will be Unrestricted Free Agents and 10 who will be restricted free agents in their system per and now, not next year might be their time since they already had a 2007 - 2008 payroll of ~$44.5M. The other thing that's exciting and interesting to me as a Caps fan is the speculation on what Tampa Bay's new ownership will do to improve the team, other than resign Vincent Lecavalier, to bolster the lineup around he and Martin St.Louis. The rumors are running wild.

While the machinations of the Pens roster and the rumours in Tampa are of interest,even greater interest to Washington Capitals' fans was a story posted on the Washington Capitals website earlier this month where there was a discussion of the 3 unrestricted free agents the Caps picked up at the trade deadline. It seems like all three might not mind wearing Caps red, white and blue again next year. That also seems very unlikely, particularly Matt Cooke due to the salary cap challenges the Caps will also likely find themselves dealing with. The salary cap and salary budget issues, along with Washington's return to the playoffs this past season are two more real signs that, "the rebuild is over." Of course, Alex Ovechkin and Bruce Boudreau's hardware from this past season are a few other visible, undeniable signs of the same thing.

Looking at the actions the Caps have taken relative to issuance of qualifying offers to their five (5) Restricted Free Agents, it sure appears they intend for all of them to start next home season "Rocking the Red." Of course, as Washington Times writer Corey Masisik points out, if another team offers one of them a stupid offer then the Caps will need to rethink things. It also seems like Caps star Alexander Ovechkin would really like to see the dean of Russian NHL'ers, Sergei Federov, come back and finish his NHL career in DC. What this all means no one knows. The salary cap next year will be $56.6M, the Caps currently appear to be using just under $39M of that. They have 8 RFAs and 8 UFAs (including Olaf Kolzig) to either resign or replace on the roster. There has been a lot of banter in the main stream media as well as on blogs and bulletin boards about what should and shouldn't be done by the Caps with minimal consensus on anything other than they need to manage the current situation smartly and if they do they will be a force to be reckoned with the next couple of seasons.

Like any other rabid fan, I want the Caps to somehow figure out how to do it all - resign Huet (I prefer Huet over Theodore and think the Caps have a far better chance of signing the native of St-martin-d'hères, FR then Jose), resign Cooke and Federov, even though I know Cooke is almost certainly a luxury we can't afford, lock Green up to a nice contract for five years, ditto for Brooks Laich (I don't think Laich's performance last year was an exception and believe it will be the rule going forward) .... and my wish list just goes on and on. The reality is that my wish list and Mr. Leonis as well as "GMGM's" wish list are all probably a lot alike and all equally implausible. The most sentimental and also I think one of the more questionable ones is the return of Sergei Federov. Last year, Federov made over $6, 500,000; it's very unlikely the Caps will be able to offer him more than two years at anything over $2,500,000 - my guess is Federov finishes his career over in Russia for a lot more money. If he decides, he'd rather finish his career in the NHL though I'd put his chances at being a Cap and "Rockin' the Red" at 65% for/35% against, and thank the presence of both Ovechkin and Semin on the roster for that. Personally it's something I'd love to see but the presence of Nylander and the terms of Nylander's contract make the Capitals being able to offer Federov a salary that is overly appealing to a guy who made over $6M last year exceedingly difficult. Michael Nylander will make $5.5M and his current contract has a No Movement Clause (NMC) through 2011; even though I think Federov's style fits Boudreau's system better, under these conditions Nyls has to be either the first or second line center whenever he is healthy.

In any case, both for us at ICx Technologies and for the Washington Capitals, these are the kind of problems and issues you like to have to grapple with - it's all good and what's not to like? Still can't wait for next season - LETS GO CAPS!!!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Qualifying Offers Out for Green, Morrisonn, Fehr, Gordon & Laich

My action item list for Caps Management had a big omission in it, good thing nobody is crazy enough to give me an NHL GM position. Today, was the last day to issue qualifying offers and fortunately even though it wasn't on my AI list GMGM issued 5 qualifying offers. Per "Dump & Chase", yesterday, the Capitals today issued qualifying contract offers to defensemen Mike Green and Shaone Morrisonn and forwards Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon and Brooks Laich. The offers allow Washington to retain exclusive negotiating rights with these players even beyond July 1, when the five would gain restricted free agent (RFA) status if they have not yet come to terms with the team. Two of the Caps prospects in the minor league system - Jamie Hunt and Stephen Werner - were not issued offers and now become Unrestricted Free Agents. Last year Hunt and Werner totaled 1.2M in salaries that the Caps free up in their budget.

Now the real fun begins.....

Still can't wait for next season. LETS GO CAPS!!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Does Middle Age Mean We Care Less or More About Living

Yesterday, we, my wife and I, came out of our front door together to go out and noticed that once again that time of year had come where Japanese Beetles swarm over a neat weeping cherry tree we have and try to devour every leaf on it as fast as they can. My wife Cindy and I both really like this particular tree. It's really the only "specimen" planting we have and besides looking really cool, it really fits the location we have it in and it anchors the one landscaping item/garden we both feel is "complete" after just 5 years in our home. However until this year, in all the prior five years, when the beetles arrive a debate has started. I have always lobbied for the use of strong pesticides to ward off the beetles since the end of our first year when the beetles almost killed the tree. Cindy, on the other hand, up to this year, has been steadfast in her opposition to the use and dissemination of chemicals of this nature anywhere near our home. (The weeping cherry tree is all of 3 feet from our front door.) In the end, in prior years, I've either prevailed , or surreptitiously sprayed the tree before the beetles defoliated the entire tree. However, yesterday Cindy preceded me out the door, looked over at the tree noted the swarming beetles, and when we got in the car said: "Don't we have more of that spray to keep those beetles away?"

I replied yes and upon our return to the house about an hour later promptly sprayed the tree. I mean why ask what was really on my mind which was something along the lines of: "Why the sudden change of attitude?" However, after 20+ years of wedded bliss, I've learned something so I guess I'm not entirely stupid.

As I sit her recalling the whole series of events though I'm really starting to wonder what they all mean. Does it mean we're getting older and don't care that we might inhale some bad chemicals that could harm us - you know the "It's been a great life, who cares?" Or, does it all mean that we cherish every day of life so much we want to drink it all in, including a view of this really lovely specimen planting, each and every day. You know that whole "When alive, live" kind of thing.

Who knows the real answer, I certainly don't and why over analyze all this sort of stuff when work at ICx Technologies is going fast and furious and the Caps still have eight free agents to deal with/sign before July 1st? Is it just me or do you too really love the music on the NHL Network's NHL "Live Every Shift" commercial, I like the video clips of Ovechkin and Joe Thorton best how about you? Can't wait till next season - LETS GO CAPS!!!!

GMGM Action Item #5 Completed

A while ago I suggested an eight item to do list and despite Ted Leonsis indicating we shouldn't keep reminding him who they need to resign, if you're keeping track here's the list. It's down to six things on the list since despite my suggestion, driven by sentiment and Steve Eminger's performance in the Flyers series, number 44 is now a Phildaelphia Flyer. That said, I'm pleased to note, that per Tarik El-Bashir, the buyout of Ben Clymer is complete with his clearing of waivers today. Good luck Ben, hope you don't come back and kick our butts some night but we needed the salary cap room. Here's the list with updated status

"1) Sign a #1 Goalie and continue to use Brent Johnson as their backup, and that likely will/should be Christobel Huet (UFA). (IN PROCESS)
2) Resign Defenseman Mike Green (RFA). (IN PROCESS)
3) Resign Defenseman Shoane Morrisonn (RFA). (IN PROCESS)
4) Resign Center Brooks Laich (RFA). (IN PROCESS)
5) Trade or buyout Ben Clymer's contract ($1.1m against the Salary Cap next year), unless they plan on using him at Right Wing, which doesn't seem to be a good option. (DONE, 6/24/2008)
6) Resign Steve Eminger (RFA). (OBE - Traded to Flyers during NHL Entry Draft)

7) If they can, resign Matt Cooke (UFA) for a reasonable deal (say ~1.25/yr for 2-3 years) and put him on the depth chart as a Right Wing. (STATUS UNKNOWN, but Doesn't Look Good)
8) Attempt to work a deal with Sergei Federov to get him back on the roster to finish out his career over the next 2-3 seasons. Yes this will be tough - Federov made $6M last year, the Caps don't have that kind of Cap room and Michael Nylander will make $5.5M and his current contract has a No Movement Clause (NMC) through 2011. (STATUS UNKNOWN, but I wouldn't bet on it)

Can't Wait Till Next Season; LETS GO CAPS!!!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Caps 2008 NHL Entry Draft

Well the NHL Entry Draft is Over. The Washington Capitals made a few moves to get the players they wanted and now it's on to closing their contract negotiations with their Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agents. However before that starts, let's recap this past weekends draft for the Capitals.

Round 1 - The Caps traded up from 23 to 21 by trading pick 23 and 2nd Round Pick and selected Swedish Anton Gustafsson, son of former Caps star Bengt Gustafsson. There was never a doubt about the young Swede's talent, pedigree, hockey sense or skill however, he has had some health issues with his back this past season and was projected as low as 30. Apparently the Caps saw the data, MRIs, etc and opted to pick him, also apparently they had reason to believe the Edmonton Oilers also had him as their preferred available Center so they leapfrogged the Oilers and picked him. The Oilers then selected Center Jordan Eberle with the next pick. Gustafsson will remain in Sweden next season. The Caps will probably give him 2 - 3 years to develop, next year in Sweden then a year or two in Hershey.

Round 1 - The Caps traded Defenseman Steve Emminger, a Restricted Free Agent who is arbitration eligible, and their third round pick (number 84)to get the 27th pick and selected Defenseman John Carlson from the Indiana Ice of the USHL. Carlson is a 6'2" 185 pounder from Colonia, NJ who will suit up for Dale Hunter's London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League next season instead of going to the University of Massachusetts.

Round 2 - With the 57th pick that the Caps had obtained previously from San Jose, Washington selected defenseman Eric Mestery from Olaf Kolzig and Stu Barnes' Tri-City Americans of the WHL. Of Mestery,Tarik El-Bashir wrote: "Mestery, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound native of Winnipeg, is a smooth skater who scouts hope will develop into a steady and reliable defenseman in the NHL"

Round 2 - Resisting trade offers from other teams, Caps General manager George McPhee selected Russian Right Wing Dmitri Kugryshev from with the second of back to back 2nd round picks. Kugryshev is a 5-11, 183-pounder who amassed 29 goals and 29 assists in Russia's third division last season, that might have gone in the first round if there was a transfer agreement in place.

Round 3 - The Caps had no third round pick as they traded it to Philadelphia to move up. The Flyers selected Goalie Jacob Deserres from Seattle of the Western Hockey League. If Washington uses some of the Salary Cap Room they got by trading Steve Emminger to sign Christobel Huet and two of the three Goalie prospects already in their system play in the NHL, this fact, trade and selection by the Flyers won't come back to haunt the Caps.

Round 4 - The Caps selected Braden Holtby, an athletic but raw goalie from the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, with the 94th pick overall.

Round 5 - Washington selected Joel Broda with the 144th overall pick. Broda is a a two-way center from the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL.

Round 6 - The Caps selected Greg Burke of the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs 174th overall. Burke is a left wing who will attend the University of New Hampshire so the Caps might get "four free years" of development before they have to decide whether they'll sign him.

Round 7 - With their last pick of this year's draft Washington chose Stefan Della Rovere with 204th of the 211 picks made, he's a left wing from Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League.

So the tallies for the Caps are as follows. By position the Caps chose 2 Defenseman, 2 Centers, 2 Left Wings, 1 Right Wings and 1 Goalie. By nationality the Caps selected 1 Swede, 2 Americans, 4 Canadians, and 1 Russian. By Junior League the Caps selected 3 players from the Western Hockey League; 1 from the Swedish Juniors; 1 from the Russian third league; 1 from the Ontario Hockey League; 1 from the EJHL and 1 from the USHL. In general when you look back a decade later a good draft for a team is one that yields four players who play in the NHL. Since the Caps don't have to rush any of these picks into an NHL uniform and the talent pool was fairly deep, it's not hard to envision this draft class as being a good one for the Caps. If Gustafsson stays healthy, it's not unrealistic to foresee this class having four or five graduate to the NHL in three or four years.

Can't Wait Till Next Season - LETS GO CAPS!!!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sorta Live Blog Watching The NHL Draft First Round

This is a sorta live blog since I'm still working tonight - we have four major program pursuits moving forwad fast and furious right now with deadlines for different customer submissions, response to questions, etc. All continuing forward motion for ICx Technologies and sooner or later if this continues, it'll result in reward for our teams good, hard work. Anyway because of it I'm working a lot and the blog is suffering but hey it's not like anybody pays me to blog, nor should they. I'm doing this tonight since I need a break from work and because I've become addicted to following hockey> I haven't been this focused/distracted by pro hockey since my teen years growing in Philadelphia when I followed the Broad Street Bullies (the original ones)and played recreation league hockey at Tarken Ice Rink in the Northeast.
Well so far in the draft there haven't been any big surprises in the draft order. Though the level of trade activity has been pretty interesting. Toronto just picked Luke Schenn with pick number 5. Good pick, I think, in fact I think all of the first 5 picks look really good and fit with the teams that have picked them:
1) Tampa Bay: Steve Stamkos - looks like the total package and could make the transition right to the NHL next year.
2) LA Kings: Drew Doughty - I think this is the best D-man available in the draft;
3) Atlanta: Zach Bogosian - I agree with McGuire's comments (even though I generally don't like the guy as a commentator) on this one recovery for the Coburn trade for Atlanta - but a really good pick
4) St. Louis: Alex Pietrangelo - Don't really know much about haven't looked at his scouting reports, etc. but 3 out of four of the first picks this year d-men is interesting - I would have picked Luke Schenn if I were them though looks like Cliff Fletcher agreed with me since....
5) Toronto trades up with the Islanders and pick: Luke Schenn - this guy I like wish the Caps could have somebody like him to pick when their "number comes up".
Now with number 6) Columbus pick Russian Left Wing Nikita Filatov - this guy should have been a Cap - let's keep the string going - Ovechkin, Semin and him. Seriously, Columbus got a good pick here and his English seems well and he's uncharacteristically animated in his quick post pick interview.
#7) and the Islanders trade down again...Garth Snow is piling up second and third round picks - I wonder if at pick #9 we'll see who the Islanders really want since at number 5 and number 7 in the words of ZZ Top it's been "Money for Nothin' and Chicks for Free" for Charlie Wang's team. Seriously so far the Islanders have picked up like four second and third round picks this time they traded down and Nashville traded up to 7) and picked Center Colin Wilson from Boston University.
#8) Phoenix picks Left Wing Mikkel Boedker. Another pick I really didn't know but he was ranked 7 by TSN and seems like a solid pick.
#9) Islanders, Snow and Wang pick Center Josh Bailey - interesting - I would have thought the Islanders could have used a solid D-Man like Luke Schenn but they got several second and third round picks and traded down; they must see something in him that others don't necessarily see. This will be a fun one to watch.
#10) Vancouver picks Center Cody Hodgson - this is a good pick from what I've seen in the scouting reports online this guy is a solid first round pick.
#11) Chicago picks the "bad boy" in the Draft Center Kyle Beach - I was hoping folks would be stupid and drop this guy down to 23 so the Caps could get him. I think he gets a bum rap and that he'd be a great guy for them - of course it's not like the Caps need another Center right now, they'll probably go for a Left Wing with 23 since that's now the weakest part of their pipeline according to analysts.
TSN commentators just mentioned so far there's been seven deals/trades at this draft. That's a pretty large amount of activity.
Here comes trade number eight Buffalo just traded up one spot and the LA Kings trade down one spot a pick they got in the first trade of the evening.
12) Buffalo picks Tyler Myers - an American whose a big, really tall defenseman. The Sabres need size so even though this guy will probably spend a year or two in the minors and then really help them with some presence on the blue line.
13) LA Kings picks up Defensman Coulton Teubert. Six of the first 13 are blue liners. Next up the Carolina Hurricanes, our Southeast Division Rivals.
14) Carolina picks up diminutive Center Zach Boychuck - apparently he's really quick and fast and a skater and goal scorer but he's small - I don't see him as the heir apparent to Brind A'mour for quite a while if ever. He's gonna be fun for guys like Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, etc and even Chris Bourque to check. This guy will need to move around a lot to get any similar number of scoring chance in the NHL to what he's done in juniors.
Commercial Time - oh the deals so far...we're back and trade number nine - Ottawa trades up and acquires pick 15 from Nashville for 18 and a third round in 2009, so Ottawa is up and will likely pick the first goalie of the draft, let's see. (Ray Emery put on Waivers today).
15) Ottawa Captain Daniel Alfredsonn announces the picks and takes Swedish "Defenceman" Erik Karlsson. This guy is still young and small so he'll stay in Sweden and play another season before he comes over but this is a good pick and a young puck moving D-Man to replace Wade Redden.
Things are slowing down again - another trade in the works? Bryan Murray just said the Senators will keep Spezza.
16) Boston Bruins up and of course they congratulate the Celtics and they pick "centre" Joe Colborne - according to the scouting reports a young Joe Thorton; if that's true he'll be a great player for Boston if he matures that way; this kid is big - when he lined up for the photo he was at least a head taller than any of the Bruins execs around him and broad shouldered too.
Commercial Break - six more picks before the Caps make their selection.
17) Anaheim (a pick they got in the Dustin Penner deal) selects Minnesotan Defenseman Jake Gardiner, another guy I wouldn't have minded seeing around at pick # 23. Another big boy, he's only 18 so i can excuse the wrinkled shirt but is that shirt purple? This kid is a big boy he's also as big or bigger than anybody else in his picture. They say he's going to play NCAA at Wisconsin next year, maybe we DC Hockey fans will get to see him at the Frozen Four - I think he'll be a good pick.
Commercial Break again....
18) Nashville pick Tri-City Americans Goalie Chet Pickard, the first goalie selected of this draft. The consensus number 1 goalie available who follows in the footsteps of former Tri-City American goalies Olie Kolzig and Carey Price. Nashville needs a solid goalie, like Price and Kolzig he's a big and mobile goalie.
19) Philadelphia has the first of their two first round picks tonight. Earlier they traded away R.J. Umberger and they select a big Swiss defenseman Luca Sbisa. Thedy just showed a highlight reel where he put a monster hit on a guy. This should be a good pick for the Flyers, he'll fit well with their system and he'll get some development time if he needs it.
Commercial Break again - an ad for Polaris ATVs; Jose Cuervo; Stacker 2 energy drink; Wiliams Lectric Shave; Gold Bond Powder; Comcast Digital Voice - welcome back to Ottawa and the NY Rangers are up.
20) The NY Rangers select from the Ontario Hockey League's Oshawa Generals' Defenseman Michael Del Zotto. The kid palys with my favorite number - Barry Ashbee of the Flyers retired number four. His film clip looked good, he seems really mobile and he too looks like a solid, big boy.
Best thing so far for the Caps is for the last 12 picks nobody's gone for a left wing that means if that's what the Caps are looking for and go for they can still get the same guy they could have selected if they had the 9th pick. The announcers are saying there could be some trade actions and the NJ Devels will trade down. The Caps move up trading away pick 23 and 54 for trade 21. Since the Caps have three second round picks that won't hurt too much. This should be interesting who will announce the pick I'm guessing it's GMGM. Another developing story is that the Rangers negotiations with Jagr aren't going real great - cool glad we don't have to pick up any of that guys tab anymore. McPhee, Boudreau, and the
21) The Caps pick Swedish Center Anton Gustafsonn, son of former Caps star Bengt Acke Gustafsonn - this is an interesting pick and has some sentimental value for the Caps. If this kid were a horse there would be even more talk about his bloodlines. The only question I have is why did the Caps feel the need to give up a pick, even if it was only one of three second round picks for a guy projected at 30th - who did they think was going to take him before 23rd. Well the Caps are getting really tied to stereotypes but that seems to be working - Swedish play making centers and Russian left wing sharpshooters. The kid looks nice and big, is he bigger than Backstrom - I think so but he can't have better puck sense that would be almost impossible. Can't Wait Till Next Season - LETS GO CAPS!!!!
22) Edmonton Oilers select center Jordan Eberle, nice moves in the video clips and he's got some meat on his bones too, though he's not huge; Gustafsonn looked bigger, I didn't notice either of their physical statistics. Neat a kid gets his "dreamshot" - he grew up an Oiler fan, always a cool story.
Fourteen (14) of the twenty-two (22) first round picks so far have been Canadians, not bad for Canadian Hockey, "eh"? Another trade, NJ trades down again for the 23rd pick they get 24 and a 2009 third round pick to Minnesota. "Money for Nothin' and Chicks for Free" for Lamoriello and the Devils. Commercial break and we're back, the Wild are up. I've lost track of the number of trades was that number 10, I think so but I'll have to go back and count.
23) Minnesota pick Defenseman Tyler Cuma of the Ottawa 67s. In the clips he looks like he can skate, move and playmaker from the blueline. This kid looks like a smart kid and a smart pick for the Wild, he'll be up in the NHL soon, I think.
24) New Jersey pick Swedish left wing Mattias Tedenby, he's only 5'8" and 160 maybe that's why the Caps picked Gustafsonn instead. That said it's clear this is the guy the Devils had on their draft board.
Commercial break, time to count the trades....looks like I was wrong, the last trade was trade number eleven (11) not number ten (10) of the night. To me that means two things, there's a fair amount of talent available in this draft and teams know what they want so they feel they can maneuver and not just keep their spots and pick the best available guy.
25) Calgary Flames up, they've been active in the trade activity of late, and they have their core team lined up and they select Center Greg Nemisz of the Windsor Spitfires from the Ontario Hockey League. A 6'3", 200# big guy who looks like he'll be a good guy to have and camp out in the low slot.
Looks like my counting is wrong, in the Sutter interview after the Flames pick TSN says ten (10) trades so far...I give up counting. Buffalo is up now with 26.
26) Buffalo selects center Tyler Ennis from the Western Hockey League's Medicine Hat Tigers. This is different he's small and fast, I guess not such a differnce for the Sabres but they need size and this guy was generally projected as a second rounder, why not go for some more size?
Another commercial break....and we're back after we hear it's freezing at Nissan of Chantilly....
Looks like Washington and Philadelphia have traded - the Caps trade Steve Emminger and number 84 for pick number 27... I don't know who the Caps will pick but I'm sorry to see Emminger go but he'll be happy about this and the Flyers get a good defenseman and since they sort of ran out of them in the playoffs that's not a bad move for Emminger or the Flyers. Who will the Caps pick. Lots of talk about Semin Varmalov - guys he'll come to North America stop bashing my homeboys.
27) Caps pick a big Denfensman John Carlson 6'4", 215# from Dale Hunter's London Knights of the Ontarion Hockey League and Indiana Ice of the USHL. Okay, I like this pick, we trade a puckhandler that we often couldn't fit into the lineup after Mike Green's breakout moves and season for a big kid who will be a solid defensive d-man.
Another trade...Anaheim trades down and give Phoenix 28 for 35 and 38. Here comes Gretzky and the Coyotes crowd....
28) Phoenix Coyotes pick Viktor Tikhonov progeny/grandson of Russian Hockey Legend. Interesting pick, his play in the World Juniors moved him up in this draft and Russian Genes and Caifornia roots.
Commercial break - two more picks in the first round then I post this - Q Motor oil - unleash all your horses; Auto Zone; Smirnoff Pomegranite Martini; Hurl reality TV Promo you've got to be kidding; Black magic Wheel and Tire cleaner, now that's more like it and if you don't like shiney you can use the matte finish version... and we're back ... thirteen trades so far in the first round so far.
29) Atlanta Thrashers (from Pittsburgh - remember the ); they pick Daulten Leveille from Ste. Catherines of the OHA - he's headed to Micigan Stae another guy we'll probably see at the frozen four next season.
30) With the last pick of the first round, the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings Steve Yzermann, after select Goaltender Tom McCollum from the Guelph Storm of the OHL, an American from the Niagra Falls area. Darn spellcheck is now hanging up - I'll probably look stupid or at least a little illiterate when I post this now - I hate it when that happens.
Well this was sort of a hockey fix, I like the Caps moves tonight even though I do like Emminger, I wonder if this means that Pothier's potential for returning is looking better. You know what's coming now - Can't Wait Till Next Season; LETS GO CAPS !!!! It's been a while but yes I know I already wrote that earlier tonight. Now back to work...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day, America Bids Farewell to an Unlikely Icon

Happy Fathers Day! to all you fathers who aren't also mothers (;->) out there; whatcha get?

Seriously, it's fathers day and a bittersweet one at that. As has been widely and is being widely chronicled in the main stream media today, NBC's Washington Bureau chief Tim Russert passed away, suddenly, on Friday. It is a sad day and once again Washington Capitals Majority Owner Ted Leonsis got it right - Mr. Leonsis is quoted as saying of Russert's passing - "A sad day indeed, Sunday Mornings in Washington won't be the same." I share that view and spent this Sunday Morning watching the Chris Matthew's Show and Meet the Press tributes to Tim Russert. It's clear that in addition to being a great tele-journalist, devoted family man, and big sports fan, Tim Russert was a great guy. Fifty-eight years isn't long enough for a guy as good as Tim Russert, my heart goes out to his family. One of my next scheduled reads is going to be "Big Russ and Me." For me, indeed many Sunday Mornings will not be the same, I'll miss his great work on "Meet the Press." Farewell, Mr. Russert, it's clear when you were alive, you lived. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family.

At the risk of being irreverent, I'll move to happier thoughts and topics. It is Father's Day. Likely our last with son Chris living at home. Chris got me several books for Father's Day that I am enjoying. One in particular has been fun to start reading is "1,000 Places To See Before You Die - A Traveler's Life List" by Patricia Schultz. While I still have over 900 places to go, I've been pleased to note that on our last really big vacation to Turkey 8 years ago we did it right according to Ms. Schultz. No wonder we have sooo many great memories, pictures and mementos from that trip. I've started in the front of the book and there are just so many cool places to see in this world. Even though I've had a fairly mobile life and have been to 19 other countries and 42 states, I have way too many more places on "my list" to ever complete it. The more interesting thing is that the gift is "so me" - there is no doubt that my son "got this one right". The funny thing is he knows it too, as he says when he saw the book he knew I'd like it. Perhaps it was all those trips to the bookstore with his mother and I in his childhood. That was at times a night out for us. Even before "Barnes and Noble" and "Borders" sprang up everywhere, we've always had and known where to find "great bookstores" nearby our homes; whether in Baltimore, New York, Long Island, Florida, and here in the Washington, DC area.

Yesterday, I stayed home and started to get caught up on some work while Chris and Cindy took the AMTRAK up to New York City and he tried out to be on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." I thought that was cool, he passed the test and first interview, he got through the third step - a videotaped interview and now we wait to here from them, they'll send us the results on a postcard. Of course, the ironic part is we're not even sure if he is selected he'll be permitted or able to participate since by the time that happens he'll be a member of the Regiment of Midshipman at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. But if he is permitted to do so he'll only be a 22 minute train ride from Manhattan on the Long Island Railroad away from the studio. I think it would be pretty cool and some good advertising for my Alma Mater if he did make it and they let him go on the show.

I continue to really reflect on life as it has been these past 19 years and how it will be over the next four while our only child is in college. It's really a little daunting to think about, I never really thought about getting older or even "growing up" for that matter; and life has just sort of been a really wonderful journey so far. We've been really fortunate, sure Cindy and I both work at it, but we look around and see many other good people who've worked at it as well that are facing rough times. Prince William County leads in the number of foreclosures this year in the Commonwealth of Virginia and just this past week, Chris told us that one of his friends in the neighborhood's family is loosing their home to foreclosure after some business setbacks. It seems no one is really immune from the current economic challenges, and I'm not talking about Ed McMahon, though that too seems a sad story to me. Can you imagine being 85 years old, having made millions and finding yourself facing foreclosure, of course Ed has friends with a lot going for them pulling for him. Chris' friend's family is anchored by a late 50's/early 60's cancer survivor who was in business for himself and had a business setback, and not nearly the support network that McMahon has found now in trying to sell his 6+M home. Both are truly tragic stories and have to make you think you could find yourself in similar circumstances, no matter who you are. Not exactly the stuff robust "Consumer Confidence Indexes" are made of, eh? Hopefully, things in our economy will start to turn around, or at least stabilize, soon. In the meantime, those of us who are and have been more fortunate will continue to count our blessings, and hopefully do our best to help out those who have had and are facing these sorts of challenges.

Well, none of my musings would be complete without some sports thoughts including at least one random thought about the Washington Capitals and next season - sure seems that Caps star Alex Ovechkin, despite all this year's awards won't rest till he brings a Stanley Cup to 7th and F Street, NW - check out this video on YouTube. For Major League Lacrosse fans - the Long Island Lizards downed the Washington Bayhawks 15-11 last evenning at George Mason Stadium in Fairfax, VA. The last goal of the game by Chris Fiore was the stuff highlight reels are made of. For me it's (Major League Lacrosse) not quite like watching Ovie get a hat trick or make a colossal hit while the Caps march to victory, but it is cool stuff all the same. Can't wait till next season - LETS GO CAPS!!! (as in how about a few free agent signings in these next two weeks, hint, hint)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sorry I Missed the Caps Bash Yesterday But....

Well I didn't make it downtown for the Caps Bash or to the Clarendon Grill last evening for the monthly USMMA-Kings Point Alumni happy hour. I'm sorry things with work have just been too hectic. Since I was out of town all week I had some catching up to do. I'm currently involved with 4 ongoing major business capture/proposal efforts and pretty backed up. The newsreels sure showed that Alexander Ovechkin is quickly improving his English language skills and each day becoming a more engaging and marketable sports-star. The soiree where Mayor Fenty gave him a key to the city looked like a lot of fun. Way to go Ovie, Gabby, and the entire Caps organization.

I'm almost glad that hockey news is sparse, though I really, really would like to see the Caps have two goalies vs. one under contract soon. Actually, the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals were exciting, the 2007-2008 NHL Awards were fun to watch, the current speculation as to whether the Pittsburgh Penguins will be able to hold together their tremendous, youthful team core is interesting as well. Surprised about the speculation are you? Perhaps its that after this season, the Penguins have 15 players who will be Unrestricted Free Agents and 10 who will be restricted free agents in their system per and now, not next year might have been their time since they already had a 2007 - 2008 payroll of ~$44.5M.

While possible machinations of the Pens roster are of interest, possibly of even greater interest to Washington Capitals' fans was a story posted on the Washington Capitals website earlier this month where there was a discussion of the 3 unrestricted free agents the Caps picked up at the trade deadline. It seems like all three might not mind wearing Caps red, white and blue again next year. It also seems like Caps star Alexander Ovechkin would really like to see the dean of Russian NHL'ers Sergei Federov come back and finish his NHL career in DC. What this all means no one knows. It looks like the salary cap next year will be around $56M, the Caps currently appear to be using just under $39M of that. They have 8 RFAs and 8 UFAs (including Olaf Kolzig) to either resign or replace on the roster. There is an increasing amount of banter on blogs and bulletin boards about what should and shouldn't be done though there isn't an overwhelming consensus on anything. My 2 cents: now that the Caps have signed rookie Karl Alzner and resigned forward Matt Bradley, the next things on the "To Do List" should be as follows.
1) Sign a #1 Goalie and continue to use Brent Johnson as their backup, and that likely will/should be Christobel Huet (UFA).
2) Resign Defenseman Mike Green (RFA).
3) Resign Defenseman Shoane Morrisonn (RFA).
4) Resign Center Brooks Laich (RFA).
5) Trade or buyout Ben Clymer's contract ($1.1m against the Salary Cap next year), unless they plan on using him at Right Wing, which doesn't seem to be a good option.
6) Resign Steve Emminger (RFA).
7) If they can, resign Matt Cooke (UFA) for a reasonable deal (say ~1.25/yr for 2-3 years) and put him on the depth chart as a Right Wing.
8) Attempt to work a deal with Sergei Federov to get him back on the roster to finish out his career over the next 2-3 seasons. Yes this will be tough - Federov made $6M last year, the Caps don't have that kind of Cap room and Michael Nylander will make $5.5M and his current contract has a No Movement Clause (NMC) through 2011.

Assuming GMGM does many of these things or comes up with some even better ideas, things look promising for a great 2008-2009 season - can't wait. LETS GO CAPS!!!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Season Wrap-up; Commentary On the NHL Awards

Over the past two weeks it's been hectic here in Bristow, VA and the Caps haven't done much in the way of free agent signings so the blog has been pretty far from my mind. I spent the past three days in Stillwater, OK working at ICx - Nomadics. Lots of great, smart folks in an interesting town that is the home of 1) Oklahoma State University, 2) Eskimo Joes, 3) the largest business unit in the ICx Technologies, Inc. Corporate Family, and 4) one of the nicest McDonald's on the planet if your into sports memorabilia as part of your decorating accessories.

So after spending much of today aboard crowded airplanes, I settled in to watch the NHL Awards on Versus. I haven't watched much hockey since the last game of the Stanley Cup Finals - weren't they great? I certainly thought so, games 4, 5, and 6 were all just so much fun to watch. Next year I'll keep my prognostic pronouncements to myself, I confess by game 2 I was rooting for Osgood, Datsuyk, Zetterberg, and Lidstrom. I was actually disappointed for the Red Wings, at the end of game 5, everyone loves to win championships at home, but also happy I'd get to see another great game. The Red Wings' season and accomplishments can't be overestimated. It was super. Congrats to the Wings, the Penguins, and the Penguin Fans who showed a lot of class after the final horn of Game Six.

Tonight's NHL awards only had one surprise for me, and I agreed with all the selected awardees - of course that's not saying much given the great season all the nominees had. The surprise? Bruce Boudreau. I'm very, very happy for Boudreau and the Caps organization and I think he is very deserving. I just figured it was Mike Babcock's to loose and Guy Carbonneau also coached a heckuva season. Way to go Coach Boudreau. I'm also just basically psyched overall that Alexander Ovechkin won both the Pearson and the Hart Trophies...and yes CapsChick, I definitely enjoyed all the gushing the Versus guys were doing over the Caps. Once again I want to take back all my bad thoughts and comments about Comcast's Lisa Hillary as well - her commentary and interviews were great tonight. Also - Lisa nice gown on the runway, as they say "Baby's got back!" Clearly, the future should be bright for the Washington Capitals the way things played out tonight. The upcoming draft and free agency period should be quite interesting to watch. Who will the Caps resign and draft? Will the Penguins be able to hold their team together with all the UFA and RFAs they have? What will the Canadeans, Hurricanes, and other Eastern Division teams do to improve their rosters? Personally I can't wait till next season! It should be the start of the "Ovechkin - Semin Era" here in DC, so much for the "Crosby - Malkin Era". LETS GO CAPS!!!

While I'll continue to follow the Caps and I've renewed my season tickets - I have a partner this year and we'll be splitting the games - until next season winds up my Caps writing will consist primarily of commenting on the RFA & UFA re-signings as well as the Caps 2008 draft. That means my posts will start to have much more content on the subjects of my other "musings." Like the header says that means primarily Family, Technology & Career, life approaching the big Five -oh and to a much lesser degree moderate politics, which will likely be limited to a small lament that the Congressional Representative from Virginia's 11th District, Tom Davis has chosen not to seek re-election and retire. Congressman Davis, has in this constituents opinion served the district and the nation well and has generally been a rationale, moderate influence in a body that, at least from the MSM's presentation, is becoming increasingly polarized. I believe, we the residents of the 11th District would do well to once again send a moderate to Congress and hope we'll have a set of choices in November that gives us that opportunity. Looking at the two candidates websites, it's hard to tell what their positions really are on any if the issues. Neither Democrat Gerry Connolly who won the Democratic primary while I was in Oklahoma this week or Republican Candidate Kieth Fimian, who has been the GOP candidate since April have any real meat that lets you know where they really stand on any issue. Hopefully that will change soon, otherwise I'll miss Congressman Davis even more than I already do.

Until the opening of the 2008 - 2009 NHL season and the time comes to really comment on that though my blogs will likely primarily be on to Family, Technology & Career and life approaching the big five-oh as fodder to muse about. Looking ahead our calender this summer I'll have the following events to prompt musings on these sort of subjects.

June 6th: our only child, Chris graduated from High School. That has me musing about life in general and our future "approaching" middle age - think 50 is the new 40 kind of stuff, especially when you are 48; also just how proud of my great kid I am.

During the remainder of month of June and July, I expect our team at ICx Technolgies will reach a few milestones that will prompt musings about Homeland Security - Technology - Military Force Protection - Interoperability & Standards and the interplay and inter-relationships of those four broad subject areas. In Security Industry speak, a word that is rapidly becoming overused - "Convergence". Some of these subjects will likely "bleed over" into August as well.

July 10th: Chris reports to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for Indoctrination, and we officially become "empty - nesters." True fodder for "life as one approaches the big Five - Oh" is when your kid selects your alma mater as his college choice and joins the class that will graduate just before you plan on going to your own class' 30th reunion/homecoming.

In August, we'll take our first vacation in 18 years without a child/teenager as part of the trip.

September 4th and 5th, we'll get to see our son for the first time face to face since July 10th at the USMMA's "Parent's Weekend", another family trip/event to be prompt musings.

Along the way will be the various Caps and NHL events and news to analyze as well as life in general but to be sure, like most Caps bloggers I suspect this off-season, my first as a Caps blogger, will see a slowing of the pace of my posts. It's just the nature of things, it really doesn't mean I've slowed down, it's just that many things in my life are not the types of things I think are newsworthy or worth posting/sharing with a larger community. Does that make me "weird" for a blogger? - as if all bloggers aren't a little weird, I don't know, you tell me. Anyway on the hockey front, "Can't wait till next season!" Congrats once again to Coach Boudreau and Alexander the Great. LETS GO CAPS!!!!