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 NHLSCAP.com 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!!!!!