Saturday, July 26, 2008

Washinton Capitals Sign Shoane Morrisson

The final contract question of the Capitals’ off season was answered today, when an arbitrator awarded Shaone Morrisonn a one-year, $1.975 million dollar contract. This is generally felt to be a very fair deal for both sides however it does create a Salary Cap crunch for the Capitals.

DMG has a pretty good article on the Cap implications and several likely alternatives over at The Caps Blue Line, though picking on John Erskine for his relatively paltry 537K salary seems a bit misguided. The real issue is the Caps have a lot of talent on the team and whether you choose to point to Federov's $4M salary; Nylander's $5+M salary, or even Ovechkin or Green's large salaries, this (a salary cap crunch) was inevitable once the Caps had a contender whether it was built from within or via trade. Just be glad we aren't overpaying for two #1 Goaltenders.... Seriously, the good news is the Caps have a wealth of talent, think of the Cap issues we'd be looking at if we had Huet and Kolzig's salary cap hits to deal with - not quite what Chicago is looking at but close. The bad news? - the Caps will likely have to try and put someone down to Hershey after training camp who may not clear waivers. Of all the problems and concerns Caps management and fans could have had, this is probably the best of them and easiest to deal with.

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

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sometimes I'd Rather Be Lucky Than Good

As part of reviewing my time here in the blogsphere, I went back to look over my posts to see where I got comments. Interestingly, I did a post on the Ottawa Senator's firing John Paddock where I digressed and made a prediction that Christobel Huet would get signed to a 4 year $20 million deal. Of course numerous aspects of that prognostication were incorrect, however at the time I looked at 4 things to estimate Huet's future value - 1) the limited number of goalies that would be entering the free agent pool at the end of the season; 2) Huet's age and his desire to get a contract that would take him as long at a number 1 goaltender's salary; 3) Huet's save percentage both career and season long till that point in February; and 4) the amount of money/budget I projected the Caps would be willing to spend on their next year's #1 goaltender. While many aspects of my thinking were off by a little (the Capital's budget) to a lot (where Huet would ultimately sign - Chicago vice Washington), the bottom line value and term of the contract I predicted were pretty close. While at the time I was questioned by some, and at the time Huet had not had the end of season run he ultimately put together, I maintain that the overall market conditions (the limited number of proven #1 goaltenders available) were as much a reason and in fact the over-riding reason that he got the deal he did.

Ironically, Chicago wasn't a team, that back in February, you would have predicted was in the market for a new number 1 goaltender. Nickolai Khabibuhlan is still listed on the Blackhawk's website as their number 1 tender, last year he was 23-20-6 in 50 games played with a Save % of .909 and a GAA of 2.69. While his statistics were in the lower third of goaltenders (GAA - 23rd and Sv% - 25th), given the young team in front of him and especially the young defense, and the fact that his $6.75M salary cap hit comes with a no trade clause it was difficult to see Chicago taking a run at Huet. Huet's stats for last year were a Save percentage of 0.920 (6th in the league) and a GAA of 2.32 (10th in the league) in 52 regular season games played. However in the 39 games he played in Montreal last year he was 21-12-6 with a GAA of 2.55 and a SV% of .916 (in his 13 regular season games with the Capitals he was on fire at 11-2 with a GAA of 1.63 and a save percentage of .936). A couple of off hand observations follow. Is Khabibuhlan worth $6.75M/season? Maybe not right now but career statistics-wise, Khabibuhlin has played in 636 games over 11 seasons and is 274-258-58-17 with a save % of .908 and a GAA of 2.69. These totals include his last three seasons in Chicago during a rebuilding period which actually pull down his career overall numbers. Huet's career statistics: 183 games in five NHL seasons, a record of 83-61-11-13 with a GAA of 2.43 and a save % of .918 in the regular season. Next season the Blackhawks will pay him $5.625M, as they will for each of the next four seasons, he is currently 32 years old. So who should be the Blackhawks number 1 goaltender in 2008 - 2009 and why? From my perspective, it needs to continue to be Nickolai Khabibulin because of the statistics NOT listed above - he has 57 games of playoff experience and a Stanley Cup compared to Huet's 13 games and never getting past the first round. Also when you discount Huet's time last season with the Capitals, Khabibulin's numbers for 2007-2008 are pretty comparable to Huet's with Montreal. Bottom line is during the first third of this coming season, Christobel Huet needs to show the coaching staff and fans in Chicago that he is capable of consistently playing at the level he played from February through April. If he does that his signing by the Blackhawks will be lauded, if he doesn't well .... that sort of stuff will all go the other way.

If your still not glad that the Washington Capitals have a straightforward goaltending situation at the start of the season, led by a number 1 goaltender who wants to be here, and a solid, experienced backup; well you should be. Also of note is that Chicago's budget for their number 1 and 2 goalies $12.375M, Washington's budget for the same roster slots: $5.312M. Comparatively, the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings #1 & #2 goaltenders will earn $2.167M this coming season; last season's Vezina Trophy winner Martin Brodeur will make $5.2M and the New Jersey Devils will spend $5.87M on goaltender salaries next season. In general most teams are spending between $5 & $7.5M of their available salary cap on goaltender salaries, IF they have one of the top 10 goaltenders on their roster. Of course with their current crop of young talent at forward, Chicago has some salary cap room to spare and can carry an extra goaltender through this next season if they so choose. However, that space quickly evaporates at the end of this season as they will need to plan for the looming Restricted Free Agency of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. All in all, the Capitals situation looks much better when it comes to managing their talent pipeline and salary cap over the next few years than the young and talent rich Blackhawks.

Can't wait till next season. LETS GO CAPS!!!! But for now it's time to get back to work on this lovely, hot Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

To Blog or Not To Blog

Over the past two days I've been contemplating whether to continue blogging, self-censor certain topics, or continue to pretend I am ignorant to the risk of chronicling my life in a "putting it out there manner." My thoughts on this were prompted by a TV report/piece the other night on people whose lives have been adversely affected by blogging, whether it's because of the risk they took sacrificing their privacy and putting any of their life and identity on line for all to see, or the fact they occasionally or more have blog contents that include details about their work/professional life.

Since in my professional life I am involved in business development for my company and basically have a pretty ingrained agenda of working hard to always present my employer in as positive light as reality allows, I really don't have a lot of issues on that front. Though I confess my recent research has made me even more circumspect in that regard.

The privacy issues and the possibility that I might occasionally rant about something and be "a little stupid" are of greater concern to me. While I am by nature a middle aged, pretty conservative guy, when I originally started blogging I had my full name in the header, something I've since taken down after my son pointed out the privacy issues I was inviting. Even though I've been involved in the technology industry for over 25 years, I can and often am actually far more naive then members of the generations which follow my own and who have grown up surrounded by the wonders of the web, facebook, etc. So I've been wondering a lot about things regarding "blogging".

Fortunately for me, my main gaffe early in blogging was taking a swipe at a MSM person who didn't deserve it. My blogsphere readers quickly called me on it and upon reflection I posted a clarification and apology in subsequent articles. I usually don't comment on anything or anybody in a negative manner anyway; unless from the vantage point of a Washington Caps fan, it's an especially bonehead type of piece or opinion of an MSM sportswriter that hasn't really thought things through, or is most often ignoring facts. When it comes to work or professionally related topics, the things I write tend to fall into two categories: 1) shameless promotion (sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle) of what my current employer is doing or 2) general commentary/analysis of industry trends or general economic trends that are affecting the industries we operate in. I've decided that in the future other than an aside as to how the pace of activity at work affect my out of work activities, my postings that mention my employer, ICx Technologies, will indeed continue to be limited to those two topics/perspectives. Since before I thought/mused about this sort of thing I acted in that manner, this wasn't a hard decision. As far as "Life Approaching 50" and matters concerning my family, I confess that in the future I'll likely be lore circumspect and work harder to alias details to further protect my own privacy and the privacy of those around me. As far as postings/musings on the Washington Capitals and the other interests of my life outside of work and family, I will continue as I have in the past, though probably focus on my own opinions, impressions and analyses more than commenting on the thoughts and actions of others. Here too this is just a natural continuation of where I was/am going. As for my postings on politics, other than continuing to publicly state I am a self-proclaimed moderate, I will likely limit my postings severely. I'm doing that for two reasons, 1) I've looked at them and 2) don't feel they've been that good, well-thought out or interesting (call that a natural result of my views, in that moderation is by it's very nature pretty boring).

Anyway that's what's been on my mind other than work and the first weeks of life as a middle aged, empty nest couple these past few days.

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

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Busy Time At Work, Slow Time for Hockey News = Blog Suffers

Well this past week has been and continues to be a very busy one for me with regards to work, I have 3 things that are due between today and COB (Close of Business) tomorrow, so I haven't done a blog entry all week, nor will I till Saturday other than this quick post. I haven't had time to keep up with anything but some of my personal life and contribute to the teams I'm on here at work on my commitments here at ICx Technologies - sometimes growing 35+% per year takes work, oh well. While it would be nice to be able to do nothing but think about my diversions including hockey, that is as they say life.

I did have time to quickly read this article on the Caps official website on Sergei Federov and found it really interesting and good. It's hard for me to think and really understand that 1990 was indeed 18 years ago, it seems like yesterday, until I read an article like this and realize how much the world has changed. In 1990 Sergei Federov had to defect to play hockey in the NHL, now we talk about when the transfer agreement will happen and what it should look like. I don't know about you but with the home opener announced I'm hoping for a 7 - 0 Caps win against the Blackhawks - I want to see Ovie get another hat trick on Huet (money chasing bleep), okay so that may be overly dramatic, but you know what I mean.

"Enough blogging - back to work till Saturday Morning you there..."

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

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 3 of the Empty Nest In Bristow

[ED NOTE] This post is a ramble, hopefully not an unorganized stream of consciousness, but at the least a bit of a ramble through all my musings, there isn't any real single defining, centering activity going on here in Bristow this morning and if I wasn't writing this posting I'd be cleaning up the garage and washing a car or two. I'll do both those two tasks after finishing this posting and watching another couple of Sunday Morning news shows. So if you're looking for erudite thoughts on the end of the Washington Caps Development Camp, they aren't here though over at the Red Skate and other blogs there is plenty of that, most of which I agree with - I didn't make it to the last scrimmage yesterday so don't have any original thoughts that are new on that. If you're looking for insightful or humorous commentary on the usual subjects of my musings - well we'll have to see how I do.

It's a lovely day here in Northern Virginia though our house has been much quieter than I thought it would be. I guess that's probably not overly surprising to most people though it is to me. I thought I wanted to get over to see the final scrimmage of Caps Development Camp, however I didn't get much sleep on Friday night so I woke up too late. I was really glad to see the turnout and the excitement only built in the Caps fan base from the couple hundred I saw on Day One to the reported ~2,000 yesterday. I was also happy to see that many folks, who are more knowledgeable than me, felt Karl Alzner was the consensus standout, and that Phil DiSimone had great and good showings, respectively. The Caps need another good D-Man in the pipeline, especially since it appears Brian Pothier will probably be out for most, if not all this coming season. No, I don't have any more insight than any other fan on that matter, I just do the math relative to the Salary Cap and note that it's clear that George McPhee is certainly moving forward in a deliberate manner that treats Pothier as on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR).

Karl Alzner's rapid rise, along with the continued improvement and development of Jeff Schultz, are something the Capitals will need and welcome in their quest to go deeper into the playoffs in 2009 and beyond. Don't get me wrong, I love John Erskine's grit and watching Milan Jurcina lay board rattling hits on opponents. However, as has been well chronicled elsewhere this past season, Erskine and Jurcina's potential at cracking into the Top 4 of any NHL Team's depth chart is limited by their skating ability. A top six blue line depth chart for Defensemen that looks like this: 1) Green; 2) Poti; 3) Morrisson; 4) Schultz; 5) Alzner; 6) Jurcina; and 7) Erskine with Pothier on LTIR might work, assuming Schultz, Alzner and Jurcina all continue to rise to the occassion. The selection of who plays the 5th, and 6th position and who sits will no doubt be situational and based on injury status. This all also depends on Schultz continuing to develop. While "Sarge" takes a lot of heat here in the "blogsphere", and even I routinely shake my head while watching him NOT play physical hockey (how can a guy who is 6'6" and 221# not want to just use that size to crush guys in the corner?), his numbers are pretty good and he doesn't get burned even strength often. I trust his development and confidence will continue and hope that next season we have an entire season of the kind of play he showed fans last December/January. If that occurs the Caps top two defensive pairings (Green/Morrisson & Poti/Schultz or Poti/Alzner) will be the equal or better of any of their opponents in the league. If a third pairing can be grounded by either Schultz, Jurcina or Alzner as a solid defenseman capable of logging ~13 - 15 minutes of ice time a game with respectable, hopefully positive, +/- ratings, then the Caps will indeed be able to go far. With Erskine in DC as the seventh man and Sami Lepisto, Josh Godfrey and Patrick McNeill in Hershey as well as Joe Finley, Eric Mestery, and John Carlson in the pipeline, it's easier too see why the Caps traded Steve Eminger to the Flyers even after the series he had against them. The Caps have a solid young defense and a solid development pipeline at the position.

As for the rest of the team, there may still need to be one more move made among the forwards to deal with the salary cap, depending on what comes out of the Shaone Morrisson arbitration/negotiations between now and the end of the month. That said as has been pointed out by others it sure seems that the Caps will have a solid roster coming into camp in several weeks. it also seems like this team will be well suited to play the game using the system that Jack Adams trophy winner, Coach Bruce Boudreau, put in place when he took the reigns last December. Question marks still center around the health status of Team Captain Chris Clark, as well as the fit and line pairings for Center Michael Nylander. Clark seems committed to doing what it takes to get back into shape and if his 32 year old body cooperates and heals, he will likely again be a key part of the Caps at both even strength and on special teams. Nylander's injuries from last season appear to also be behind him, however whether he will center the first, second, or third line is clearly open to discussion. This situation has NOT been caused by any of the wrong reasons, before his injury, the 35 year old Swede was playing his best hockey of the season. Once Nylander was out for the season, Caps general manager George McPhee (GMGM) went out at the trade deadline and brought in 38 year old center/play maker/3 time Stanley Cup winner, Russian Superstar, Sergei Federov. Federov filled a couple of late season needs the Caps had for a seasoned, star and play maker AND he had excellent chemistry, almost immediately on and off the ice with younger countrymen Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin. The acquisition and retention of Federov, along with the faster than hoped for development of rookie Swede center, Nicklas Backstrom, as well as solid seasons by Brooks Laich, Boyd Gordon and David Steckel, mean the Caps have a minor "embarrassment of riches" at center. This situation, as well as the tightness the Caps find themselves against the $56M 2008-2009 salary cap, and the fact that management, coaching staff and the fan base are all talking about how far the Caps might advance into the 2009 playoffs, instead of if they will even make the playoffs, are the real signs the "rebuild" ended at the middle of last season.

It may be local phenomenon fueled by the recent comments by the Caps new goaltender Jose Theodore and the re-signing of Sergei Federov for a fair value contract of $4M, even though he no doubt could have made a lot more in Russia, but it's really nice to think of and hear Washington is becoming a good hockey town. Getting a standing room only crowd of a couple thousand fans to watch a scrimmage at the end of development camp continues to show and fuel the excitement of the fan base here in the DC Metro Area. The next event is an Open House and Autograph session with Caps Defenseman Mike Green on July 24th. Finally even the local mainstream media (MSM) are getting on board with the idea the Caps are worthy of solid coverage both in season and during the off season. While the front pages of today's sports section have little on the Caps, the online edition of the Washington Post's section/web page on the Caps has a lot of excellent coverage; and the Washington Times has a similar set of good articles in it's online edition. As they say, it's all good, hopefully the spirit and sentiment builds as we go through next season and the Caps get a larger, just as dedicated, and knowledgeable fan base as the long term core has been. Can't wait till next season.

What has occupied most of my time these past three days has been work, busy time at ICx Technologies continue, and looking at the USMMA parents page to catch glimpses into what our son Chris is doing , via online postings of pictures of the Class of 2012's "Indoctrination". The four large program pursuits I'm personally involved with all continue to move forward and we are getting going on three more opportunities so my days have been pretty interrupt and event driven these past two weeks. Those things along with the trip to Long island to drop off Chris as well as just getting settled in this next phase of our life as an empty nest couple have been and continue to be the real grounding items in my life. I'm also starting to really try and figure out what I should be thinking about when picking who I'll vote for in November. I watched a few news shows this morning, they were less than helpful, but I am very biased against the media and how they cover politics, nobody is without an agenda - I know "duh".... I want to find a moderate who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal and will have the ability to make a budget and policy that is both effective and reflective of those desires and values. i guess that means I'm living in fantasy land - here I sit approaching 50 years old and still somewhat of an idealist, I don't think that's too, too terrible a thing. It's also probably very reflective of the great life we have and the great country we live in. Sue me - I'm a relatively happy and sentimental, patriotic guy. It's hard not to have those feelings stirred when you've just seen 307 great young men and woman begin their journey through life by joining a group and ideal that they all know is something bigger then themselves - even when they don't fully understand what it all is or will be.


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

Friday, July 11, 2008

Acta Non Verba Tour - Installment 2

[ED NOTE] This article contains only information and subject matter on two topics - the United States Merchant Marine Academy and Life Approaching 50. For those looking for the latest musings related to the Washington Capitals please scroll down if these two subjects are of no interest to yo.

Day 2 of our journey to drop Chris off started with me waking up first and getting ready, then I got Cindy up, then Chris. It was Thursday morning and he needed to report for the start of indoctrination no later than 8:30 am.... so we started this evolution at 6AM and headed down to "The Giraffe Room" for breakfast at 6:45 but the place was packed so we opted out of breakfast. At this point Chris realized we needed to make a detour to get a permanent marker so he could put his name on his bags, once that was accomplished we headed to the USMMA and got into the queue to drop him off. He got in line at about 8:15 and we saw him come out of in processing and head to the barracks at about 09:30. This whole evolution was very different from when I started at the Academy 30 years ago. On that day I recall my parents dropping me off and me seeing them one last time about 45 minutes later when we and our luggage marched off Barney Square (now called "the grinder") about an hour later. Now parents spend most of the entire morning and you see them march into lunch after they literally wave goodbye to you. There are pictures posted on the Academy's Parents Page often during this period though we won't actually talk to him for 10 days when he'll get 5 minutes to call, again this is slightly different then when I started though not much.

The military/regimental aspect does complicate some things though it simplifies others. For our part the complication is Chris forgot to pack the new pair of glasses into his suitcase and halfway back down the Jersey Turnpike we noticed them in the backseat of the car. Luckily we had an option and we fed ex'ed them overnight to the lacrosse coach's office - hopefully he got them today and gave them to our son; we might not know for sure until not this Sunday but the next one. It does simplify things, we know he is safe and not getting into any mischief nor will he have much of a chance to until we see him next time which we be the weekend of September 5th.

On the life approaching 50 part, I do find myself looking at the few pictures of him on the website more than I thought I would and I have replaced the screen background that was from my last fishing trip with the boys with one of him when he first reported to the Academy inside on the basketball court in O'Hara Hall. I also met two of my classmates who have kids (one a son, the other a daughter) in the Class of 2012 and we talked a little. We all are proud but don't feel at all like we thought we would when we were younger and contemplated future events like this. Oh well next I'll post a few of the pics I took but right now I'm still catching back up for the days off.


Caps Sign Boyd Gordon to 1 Year Contract; RW Eric Fehr also has been Re-Signed

The Caps announced they signed Boyd Gordon to a 1 year contract today. In keeping with club policy - and why that is I can't fathom since in a shake of a lambs tail they will be published - the Caps Organization did not disclose the contracts terms. According to Tark El-Bashir, the deal is worth $725,000.

RW Eric Fehr has also been resigned, that happened yesterday, according to Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post, Fehr accepted his qualifying offer at a Salary Cap hit of $735,000.

All that remains now is Shaone Morrisson's arbitration on July 24th - after that the Caps will know if they need to shed some salary or if they've kept the team, less Matt Cooke, Cristobel Huet and Olaf Kolzig basically intact.

It may be a minority opinion, but I believe that Jose Theodore will do great here in DC and that he and goal tending coach Dave Prior will work very well together. Even before the great set of negotiating tactics Huet and his agent pulled, I had concerns about Huet's ability to withstand a workload of 60+ regular season games AND a longer than 1 series playoff run for the first time in his career. I have less concern with Theodore's durability, yes he has had an inconsistent showing before, but so too had Huet. Theodore really wants to be here and is as confident as he has been in a long time. He has a pretty good defense in front of him even though I must admit he is very, very likely to see more shots per game then he has in a while at Colorado.

There is no doubt in my mind that even if Morrisson's arbitration results require the Caps to make Cap room, ShaMo is one of the top 4 D-men on the team on opening night so it'll be interesting to see how things play out with Brian Pothier's recovery and the other players on the bubble.

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Laich & Federov Re-signed; Next Up ShaMo...

[ED NOTE] No in depth analysis since I'm a day late on this one - see the below post as to what I've been up to today besides waiting for this news with baited breath. Sorry there is more to life than just following the Caps though today's news out of the Capitals Organization only made a great day better....

The Caps avoided arbitration and signed Brooks Laich to a very fair three year deal for both sides. Laich signed a 3 year deal worth $6.2M deal. At the end of the term Laich will be 28 years old and an Unrestricted Free Agent so the upside of this is if he continues to improve he can cash in on that success next time around. Also looking around the league and at the numbers the deal is a fair deal for both sides, as long as Brooks continues to play at least to the level of his potential as he displayed last season. The deal also means that folks going to fan fest can buy their "Laich" "#21" Jerseys and get them autographed without fear they are buy obsolete gear on Saturday.

Sergei Federov will be back in a Caps uniform next year and has reportedly signed a 1 year; $4M deal.

Also according to Tarik El-Bashir, Shoane Morrisson's arbitration has been scheduled for July 24th.

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

Acta Non Verba Tour Installment #1

[ED NOTE] No Caps thoughts or information in this post; no ICx Technologies related musings either - just USMMA and Life Approaching 50 thoughts in this article.

A nice relaxing day in scenic Long Island. I awoke before the crowd here in Room 316 at the Inn at Great Neck so I took a trip up to the Academy and down "memory lane" for an hour and a half so as not to raise the ire of my son (for whom today will be the last in a while where he can sleep in) and my wife, who also rarely gets the chance to do so. I got to the Campus at about 9AM and took a leisurely stroll around ending my walk up by the Chapel where Cindy and I were married 20 years ago (2/21/1988), then I stopped at the Academy's 9-11 memorial for a short stop, watching several local children using the outdoor pool down by the Waterfront. i then stopped by to say hello to Capt. Eric Wallischeck (Class of 1983) who is now the Asst. Superintendent for Strategic Planning. Eric had a busy day today, since he is the POC for the press release that announced the current Superintendent's Retirement. Eric and I were on the Offshore Sailing Team together and we caught up for a little over a half an hour before I headed back to the hotel.

I dutifully stopped at The Bagel Hut on Middle Neck Road in Great Neck and got us each two bagels and a drink. Nothing can beat freshly made (as in still hot!) New York Bagels, though we are now dyed in the wool very happy Northern Virginians as far as where we want to live. We enjoyed our breakfast and then decided to take a short drive out to Huntington and drive by our old house on Juniper Place, which we moved from in 1996 when we first came to NOVA. One of our old neighbors is still there and we saw them though were very distressed to learn their 26 yo son had contracted brain cancer and passed away in April. Once again I just can't really imagine how bad I would feel and how sad this whole thing is. The young man was a great person if anything that just makes it all hurt even more. We then bade them farewell and went to a brief get together at the Lacrosse Coach's house in Levittown for all the incoming plebes/freshman on the team.

The get together at the Lacrosse Coaches house was great. One of my classmates who had a son that graduated in 2007 and has a son in the Class of 2011 is running the Lacrosse Parents Club so we caught up for a few minutes. Chris met several of his new Classmates and they all seemed like great guys. After leaving there we had a great "last family supper" at Benihana's in Manhassett. Upon our return to the Inn at Great Neck, Cindy and I retired to our room and their is a gaggle of aspiring plebes/class of 2012 down in the lobby getting to know each other which is where our #1 son is. I expect tomorrow will bring another great day, though with a much earlier start since we have to have dropped him off by 0830 as they say in the military. All I can think about is the first time I took Chris to a football game - he was 4 and his Mother was working, it was a nice but cool fall day so rather than do our ritual breakfast at TK's in Huntington then home, we traveled from Huntington after breakfast to Kings Point and caught the first half of a Division III Football Game at the Academy - where did the years go? Acta Non Verba - I'm glad for all the good times the three of us have spent together over the last 18 years. It makes you really thankful for the good things in life, when you realize that for some folks the time you have to share with them is more limited than you might otherwise think. Well that's it for the "chick flick type of post" for today.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Federov Rumours Still Just All That - Drats...

Eleven deals today but not the one I got my hopes up for based on this post at On Frozen Blog. Rumours out of the KHL is that Sergei Federov is close to a deal with the Capitals - we'll see but here's hoping.

On a personal front we're on vacation today through Thursday. We'll drop our son off at the USMMA on Thursday morning. We had an uneventful drive up Route 95 this afternoon and checked into a nice local hotel - The Inn at Great Neck - this evening.

[ED NOTE] I'll be keeping up on the news at other blogs, etc. like the rest of the Caps Universe, hopefully the good news will keep going on. Peerless has some nice shots from today's development camp workouts and some good discussion on the free agency changes in the Southeast Division.

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

Interesting Monday - Caps Development Camp Opened

Well I got busy at work and just made it over to Kettler to see the last 1/2 hour of "Group B's" workout. I was pleasantly surprised to see head coach Bruce Boudreau presiding, clearly he takes this seriously. Even though right now the Caps are full of young talent it was clear "Gabby" wants to keep that pipeline full and I'd expect that the prospects selected for development camp are all psyched to be getting some face time with the Caps head coach. As I stepped into the rink the staff had the group gathered round and was discussing the next set of drills or debriefing the last set. Here's the sight of the entire group B huddled round and Gabby giving some instructions. After this discussion, the next evolution was sprints, this is a cool drill to watch the way the Kettler glass and boards are set up since it looks like the players will be skating right into you, but clearly after an a half or more of on ice time, this is hard work. Most of the guys selected for development camp are pretty big guys, if you look at their stats the shortest is Mathieu Perreault at 5'8" but he's in group A; all of group B is 5'11" or taller so these guys were all big boys. Watching them do the skating drills was pretty neat and it's clear that today the staff wanted to see who was in shape. This last set of sprints clearly got the motors running.

After sprints Gabby again gather the troops and there was some additional instruction and discussion, followed by some stretching and a short passing drill them some basic shooting, apparent open practice. The young players all are clearly intent on hearing every word Coach Boudreau has to say and it was interesting to see who hung around on the ice for as much ice time as they could get - it was primarily the older guys
who played at Hershey and South Carolina last season; another one was Phil DeSimone, who is currently playing at UNH and a little older than a couple of the young prospects right out of Juniors. It got me wondering if these guys were putting in the extra time because they were in better shape and less tired after Day 1, or do they think/know Gabby likes to see both talent AND drive, or do they have both talent AND drive and that's why they're still around after having played for him before, or they were just having more fun than the other guys? This next shot (above) is the last set of on ice coaching the group got from Gabby before the session ended.

Intrasquad scrimmages are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, as well as the day of FanFest. I might be able to catch FanFest and since I need a fix of live hockey, if I can I'll probably go. However, I'm out of town up at the USMMA tomorrow through Thursday as my son reports to join the class of 2012 - ACTA NON VERBA, baby.

I'm not a totally rabid fan of the "baby caps" so don't know them by face that well, and it was hard to see/catch some of the numbers so if I've got the following names/captions wrong, please let me know so I can correct them.

Phil DeSimone in a passing drill, notice his jersey these guys are got a workout today:

Patrick McNeill doing some shooting drills, I know this doesn't look like the photo/headshot on the Caps site but I swear this guys was wearing a number 46 on his helmet so if I'm wrong please shout out. In the meantime - can't wait till next season; LETS GO CAPS! [ED NOTE] I have more pics and may post them over the next couple of days as I'm off in New York.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Some Hockey News But The Big Sports Stories Yesterday Was In Omaha, NE

Torres Surpirses At Omaha Swimming Trials; Phelps Could Break Spitz's Record In Beijing

The really big news in sports yesterday happened at the Olympic Trials, sure Tyson Gay falling and getting hurt in the 200M track race in Eugene, OR was news but since it looks like all will be well for him in the 100M for Beijing, the real news was in the swimming trials in Omaha, NE. Whether you think the big story is Michael Phelps winning five individual events at the trials, setting two world records and going for 8 medals at the Olympics, Katie Hoff qualifying for 5 individual events and competing for 6 medals at the Olympics, or 41 Dara Torres winning two qualifying events and going for two medals at her 5th Olympics, you have to believe the top sports news story of the week occurred in a pool at Omaha, NE. Since both Phelps and Hoff are local heroes (Baltimore), DC area sports fans can take comfort in knowing they're rooting for locals to make history in China this summer. As for Torres' performance and achievement, it does indeed transcend her sport and, almost regardless of how she finishes in the Olympics, there is no doubt she has already become an icon and celebrity that draws universal praise. The sight of a 41 year old mother with her 2 year old on the pool deck after winning the Olympic trials for the 50M freestyle in American Record time, is something that won't soon be seen again. The Olympic Swimming events are sure to be well watched and exciting looking at the team the US has going to the event. Just 5 weeks till opening ceremonies - the US has a lot of solid athletes going to these games in lots of different events. Go red, white & blue!

On the local hockey news front both Tarik and Corey have blog entries and stories about the recent filings by Brooks Laich and Shaone Morrisonn for arbitration and the signing of Matt Cooke by the Pittsburgh Penguins. At this point that means that Laich and Morrisonn are out of the RFA eligible for offer sheet pools and that if they don't reach mutual deals with the Caps in the next two weeks the arbitration process starts. If they go to arbitration, they'll then get one year deals with the Caps as decided by those proceedings. RW Eric Fehr is expected to accept his qualifying offer and C Boyd Gordon could do the same. These events are all probably good news for the Caps and could mean there will be enough room under the salary cap left to bring back veteran superstar Sergei Federov like young gun, fellow countrymen Ovechkin and Semin would like to see. While it "ain't over till its over" so far this off season seems very well played by the entire Capitals front office.

[Ed Note] Looking ahead to this coming week is exciting for us here in Bristow. On the professional front events keep moving forward at ICx Technologies and reasons to be optimistic about continued excellent growth despite a trying economy continue to emerge and mature. No looming proposal submission deadlines this week, though there is still lots to do on four projects we continue to pursue, so just the usual hectic pace. Our son Chris reports to the US Merchant Marine Academy on July 10. That's first thing Thursday morning so we'll spend Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday in New York before dropping him off at Kings Point to start his four years there. This is just all so weird, I've pondered all this before but I sure don't feel like I thought I'd feel about this sort of stuff 20 years ago. Perhaps 48 is the new 28? I'll try and stop by Kettler for the afternoon session of development camp tom arrow before we head up to NY on Tuesday. If I do I'll try and take a few pics of the Caps prospects and post them Monday evening. I don't expect much news from the Caps on Laich, Gordon, Morrisonn, Fehr or Federov this week and I'm just not into following the "What will Mats Sundin do?" rumours and news so postings here for the next couple of days will likely be more about Life Approaching 50 and the USMMA then about the Washington Capitals or even ICx Technologies.

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

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Taking Stock and Looking Ahead

What's Next for the Caps? Development Camp Starts Monday.

The Caps have and are doing so many things right but there are a few big question marks left to ponder looking ahead to next season. Today is "arbitration filing day" but don't expect any news relative to the Caps roster. The Caps now have X question marks hanging over the lineup for next season - first and most ambiguous is the health status of two players on the roster: Team Captain Chris Clark and veteran Top 4 defenseman Brian Pothier. After that the remaining unsigned free agents that GMGM has said he'd like back "Rockin' the Red" next season: Laich, Morrisson, Federov, Gordon and Fehr. If all seven of these guys are healthy and signed the Capitals Depth Chart could well look something like this going into camp.

1) Ovechkin 1) Backstrom 1) Kozlov
2) Semin 2) Nylander 2) Clark
3) Laich 3) Federov 3) Fehr
4) Brashear 4) Steckel 4) Gordon
5) Laing 5) Fleischmann 5) Bradley

Defense: 1) Green, 2) Poti, 3) Pothier, 4) Morrisson, 5) Schultz, 6) Jurcina, 7) Alzner, 8) Erskine.

Goalies: 1) Theodore, 2) Johnson.

So if you did the math that's a total of 25 players - two too many which means that it's likely the Caps will have one of the 8 defenseman and one of the 15 forwards I've listed wither in the press box or start the season in Hershey. That will depend on a couple of factors - for Alzner it'll be his performance during next week's development camp and subsequently training camp if he does well next week. For the forwards for Schultz, Laing, Steckel and Fleischmann it'll be a function of what they do at training camp and what kind of shape and attitude they show up with. The least likely of these to be in the press box or Hershey at the start of next season is Jeff Schultz when you get over some minor appearance issues and look at his numbers from the 2007-2008 regular season. For Brashear, Bradley, and Gordon the have the experience and certain desired skill sets that unless they show up out of shape or with their heads screwed up - not likely given their personal make up - they'll be on the team and dress regularly. John Erskine needs to show up in shape and ready to skate with his best game possible given the drafting of Erskine and the other quality defenseman in the pipeline at Hershey; in retrospect Steve Eminger has got to be glad he's on a different roster.

Eight Other Forwards in the pipeline at Hershey and South Carolina who could also challenge for a roster slot are: LW Chris Borque, C Kieth Aucoin, C/RW Mathieu Perreault, RW Fracious Bouchard, LW Oskar Osala, RW Andrew Gordon, C Phil DeSimone, and C Jay Beagle. The placement of the #4 and #5's in these positions is based on their last season or couple of seasons efforts but clearly none of these guys can "rest on their laurels" though none are really the type to do so. Brashear, Steckel, Gordon, Laing, and Bradley are there based on their "grit" value to the team as stoppers. Of course Brashear and Bradley also can provide some protection to the Caps star forwards and they, Laing and Gordon hustle into the corners like nobody's business. Steckel and Laing provide the Caps two awesome penalty killers and when paired with Federov and Gordon provide the potential for short-handed scoring threats as well. All that said, if secondary scoring becomes an urgent need and Fleischmann, Bradley and Gordon haven't started to improve their productivity by November, don't be surprised if any of the 6 guys listed in the 4) & 5) slots spend some time in the press box while whoever is the "hot hand" in Hershey gets some ice time with the big club.

There are also 3 defenseman in the pipeline that could challenge Jurcina, Erskine, Schultz and Alzner for the last three of the seven defenseman slots on the Capitals' roster. In Hershey and South Carolina the following guys have the potential to make a run at an NHL spot this year: 1) Sami Lepesto, 2)Sasha Pokulok, and 3) Patrick McNiell. Further down the pipeline is 19 year old Kieth Seabrook who will also attend development camp this year.

The Caps have three good Goalies in the pipeline but all are 2-4 years away from being regulars in the NHL though if Theodore and Johnson play to their potential and turn in solid seasons the Caps could be a 100 point team.

Overall the Caps are looking good with a fairly stable roster that should only get better and more experienced for the next two years, that's why guys like Sergei Federov may indeed take a little less then they could make back home in the Continental Hockey League and elect to finish out their careers playing next to last season's MVP. There is a lot of young talent available for Coach Bruce Boudreau to mix and match on the lines however if Clark and Pothier don't come back from their injuries last season what happens. Clark brings gritty play AND secondary scoring; if he can't come back Federov's locker room leadership is even more important and valuable as is the need for Federov, and Fleischmann to ramp up their scoring, as well as somebody like Steckel who has proven his ability to score at the AHL level to find the back of the net more against NHL foes. If Pothier can't make it back as a regular then Schultz has to "kick it up a notch" quickly and find the ability to play like he did in December and January and play that way all season; Jurcina and Alzner both also have to work hard and quickly mature into the players they can be. Alzner will be a rookie and can' t be expected to play error free hockey, but Jurcina needs to not make avoidable mistakes at the rate he did at times last season. Without Clark and Pothier, the Caps can still be a solid hockey team, they showed that in December through February, but they need to play very smart intense hockey every minute - Pothier and Clark in the lineup turn a good team into a very good team.

In an aside, it certainly does appear that Olie Kolzig will wear #37 for Tampa Bay - it would be kickin' if he has a really hot year with it there too (yes EXCEPT when he plays the Caps).

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

Friday, July 4, 2008

What's Next for Caps Fans?

As the Free Agent Signing Dust Begins to Settle Who Still Has Cap Room?

That is a question that may play a big role in what happens over the next week or two with the remaining unsigned Washington Capital free agents. As of this morning the Caps still had not re-signed 4 Restricted Free Agents: Center Brooks Laich, Center Boyd Gordon, Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, and Right Wing Eric Fehr as well as two key unsigned trade deadline pickups that are now Unrestricted Free Agents: Center Sergei Federov and Left Wing Matt Cooke. Will the Caps be able to keep all six of these players and virtually hold together their entire team from last season (less Goalies Olie Kolzig and Cristobel Huet)? A lot of that answer now depends on the fact the Caps have just over $6.3M of Salary Cap space left for next season and some other teams in the league have a lot of Cap space and a lot of needs. Who will the Caps potentially compete with for their most desired remaining free agents?

There are 13 NHL teams who have significant ability to continue to be active without making major shuffles with their existing rosters. The teams with significant salary cap space can be easily seen at the website "" - as of this morning they are: 1) LA Kings have $27.1M of salary cap space and an 08/09 roster with just 18 signed players; 2) Atlanta - over $25M of Cap Space and just 18 players on their 08/09 roster; 3) Columbus has $17.7M of cap Space and 21 roster slots filled; 4) Vancouver has $17.2M of salary cap space and 19 filled roster slots; 5) Colorado has over $16M of cap room and only has 16 roster slots filled; 6) the New York Islanders have $15.9 of cap room and 19 on their roster; 7) Phoenix has $15M of space and a roster with 20 players; 8) Nashville has $14.2M of space and 19 signed players; 9) Buffalo has just under $14M of cap space and 18 players on their roster; 10) Ottawa has $12.3M and 19 on their roster; 11) Minnesota has $11.4 of room and 19 signed; 12) Florida has $11.3 M of space but a pretty full roster; 13) Carolina has a pretty full roster but still has ~9.5M of cap room. So what do these teams need and what might they likely do?

- Starting with the LA Kings: the Kings have 5 unsigned RFA skaters and an unsigned goalie RFA, they could use help everywhere look for the Kings to start by matching whatever offer sheet RFA Center Jarret Stoll gets. The Kings really could use a solid number 1 goalie but the market is thin this year so unless they make a run at Atlanta RFA Kari Lehtonen or take a gamble on Ray Emery they will likely wait and see how things work out given the otherwise now thin market for tenders. All in all the Kings seem committed to a long term vision of building their team through the draft but they do have the room to try and pick up someone like Sergei Federov who could help them a lot and fit their timetables for growing their own young team members or they could make reasonable offer sheets to either Boyd Gordon, Shaone Morrisonn or Brooks Laich that push them past the level Caps GM George McPhee (GMGM) would consider prudent to match. Elsewhere around the league there are some similar situations but if the Kings go shopping it's probable they will make reasonable offers for solid guys like Matt Cooke even though their needs are great.

- The Atlanta Thrashers have a lot of salary Cap room and needs in several areas. The first thing the Thrashers are likely to do with their Cap room you ask match any reasonable offer sheet that 24 year old RFA Goalie Kari Lehtonen gets. Next Atlanta needs at two more top 6 defenseman, they could put a solid offer sheet in front of a number of RFA D-men including Florida's Jay Boumeister, Shaone Morrison, or others. In all there are at least 20 UFA D-Men and 7-10 RFA defensemen that could help the bluebirds and right now Atlanta only has 5 defenseman on their roster with solid NHL experience. The situation at D might not be as dire given Atlanta's draft but they need to at least have some insurace at the position. They have to make some deals here and will before looking to see what they can do to replace Marian Hossa and take some more offensive pressure off the talented and prolific Ilya Kovalchuk. Atlanta is a place known to be a friendly environ for European players and there are already six Eurpeans on the roster including Kovalchuk and on other Russian - left wing Slava Kozlov; also they could stand to upgrade their depth at the Center position, so it's also not impossible to see them making a fair 2 or even 3 year offer to Sergei Federov, given the amount of Cap room they have for the next couple of seasons, though they would more likely be looking for a two year deal given a) Federov's age and b) the fact Kovalchuk becomes a UFA in 2010.

- Let's come back to Columbus since in addition to everything else you have to consider some other factors and take a look at Vancouver next. The Canucks have one primary need - more offensive production. They lost UFA Markus Naslund to the NY Rangers and are now taking a run at Mats Sundin, making him an offer that would reportedly make him the highest paid forward in the NHL - and the guy is thinking about it!?!? In the meantime, they are making some nice, lower key moves to shore up the rest of their roster like signing veteran defensman Nolan Baumgartner; they are making significant progress in building their team and getting back into the playoffs. They also needed a back-up goalie to all-star Roberto Luongo so they re-signed backup Curtis Sanford. While Vancouver has the ability to make a run at some of the Capitals unsigned free agents, based on their needs and other recent moves they will likely look elsewhere to fill them.

- The Colorado Avalanche have $16M of cap room but also need to fill 7 roster slots. The Avs got some of their current salary cap room when the Capitals picked up goaltender Jose Theodore and they back-filled that loss by signing Andrew Raycroft, that swap out created over $4M of their current cap room. However, there are obvious differences between Theodore and Raycroft that the Avalanche has to make up for elsewhere in their roster. Another big question mark for the Avs is whether longtime Avalanche star Joe Sakic will be back in Denver next season. Colorado has been pushing to improve the defensive aspects of their offense and they need to either re-sign Sakic or pick up a suitable replacement. With 7 roster slots to fill the Avalanche have an average of $2.28M per position available but also need to do some proactive planning so they can try and improve their goal tending situation during next year's 2009 free agency period, so while the Avs will be active in the remainder of the off-season, they won't likely do anything crazy. When and if the Avalanche extend offer sheets or attempt UFA signings, they will not likely be of the type that will land them on this or any other list of crazy deals.

- What do the New York Islanders who have 4 open roster slots and just shy of $16M of cap room need? First off the Isles have five unsigned RFAs and they are likely to re-sign at least four, if not all five of them - those moves will eat up at least 4 and more likely close to 8M of their cap room. Another interesting thing to note is the Islander's once "crazy deal" with #1 goaltender Rick DiPietro now is looking very smart. DiPietro's $4.5M cap hit salary is a bargain for a solid #1 goalie and helps the boys in Nassau County by giving them the room to "consider the possibilities." Unfortunately like the Washington Capitals deal with Jaromir Jagr, the Islanders decision to buy out Alexi Yelshin's contract eats up an average between 2 and 4.7M of that flexibility between this year and the 2014-2015 season. With the loss of forward Miroslav Satan to the Penguins in this year's free agent flurry, the Isles will also likely look to add one or two experienced forward who can light up the red light. The Islanders have already shown a strong desire to improve their team with the UFA signing of Mark Streit. Given their familiarity with the Capitals, as Eastern Conference rivals, it's not unimaginable to think Isles GM Garth Snow is considering making a few offers to any of the Capitals free agents or the Ranger's Brendan Stranahan and Martin Straka, of the Caps free agents Matt Cooke's style of play would also fit well with the Isles needs now that they have parted ways with Chris Simon. What the Islanders need most is a new arena, but since that's not currently in play look for them to use at least some of their Cap room in the free agent market between now and when Camp starts, they want to get back to the playoffs now and that will mean they'll do more than just look to upgrade their backup goalie, still remaining on Snow's to do list, and the pick up of Streit, they completed on Tuesday.

- What will Wayne Gretzky do next out in Sun City? Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes have been actively engaged in working to improve their team since early last season when they picked up goaltender Ilja Bryzgalov from Anaheim early in last season and picking up Center Olli Jokenen from the Florida Panthers just prior to this years entry draft. Looking at the team they've assembled reveals a pretty formidable roster and the likely next things that would help would be to upgrade their #3 through #6 defenseman. The free agent market still has a fair amount of talent available in this area (top 2 defensemen are quickly being picked off but Phoenix has Ed Jovanoski and Derek Morris in those slots), so even though they've already been active in this area with the signing of David Hale, Phoenix could continue to look to use some of their ~$15M of available salary cap in this area.

- Nashville is another team to skip over because they have a whole lot of factors other than just salary cap management and hockey operations needs, so it's off to Buffalo. The Sabres continue to work on reloading after being the first victims of their own success in self-growing talent from their draft picks. Looking at today's Sabres it's easy to forget that they would have absolutely no (as in zero, zip, nada) cap room if they had retained Chris Drury and Danny Briere AND they would still have 3 roster slots to fill. Examining the last couple of years in Buffalo is the real place to get a lesson in the meaning of the new/post CBA NHL. As far as what the Sabres are still looking for, GM Darcy Reiger says it's a quality blueliner, he's been very open about his desire and eve talked about it at a press conference on Wednesday. Other than that look for the Sabres to use their $14M of salary cap space to hold on to their three forwards who are RFAs. Basically, the Sabres are looking to replace and upgrade 19 season NHL veteran Finn Teppo Numminen. That said the list of available veteran defenseman as of this morning doesn't yield an intuitively obvious available selection - the best choices are two former Rangers Darius Kasperitis and Marek Malik. Perhaps Reiger is hoping to sign an offer sheet with Jay Bouwmeester of the Florida Panthers but I'd still expect the Panthers to match any offer that would even push the levels of prudence.

- Over in the Canadian Capital, Senator's GM Bryan Murray has been a flurry of activity since being ousted in the first round of the playoffs by Pittsburgh. Since then the Senators have brought in Craig Hartsburg as their new coach and made moves that amount to a major reshape of their roster. The Senators have waived and are buying out Goalie Ray Emery, they let #1 defenseman Wade Redden go to the New York Rangers in free agency earlier this week and they've made some other moves to retool and reload. The Senators have a) re-signed forward Chris Kelly; b) signed UFA Goalie Alex Auld as their backup netminder; c) signed UFA forward and pest Jarkko Ruutu; and d) re-signed UFA forward Shean Donovan. Overall, these move have rationalized their roster and left them with the ability to go after a couple more players who fit with their forward plans for the next two or three years with their ~13M of cap room since their core of Alfredsson, Spezza, Heatley, and Fisher are under contract until at least the end of the 2011-2012 season; however anticipate them holding on to some of their flexibility to potentially change out number 1 goalies when Martin Gerber becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this next season. If the Senators were to go after any of the Caps free agents, now that they have signed Ruutu that would most likely be a putting a good but sane offer sheet in front of either Brooks Laich or even Boyd Gordon though ShaMo is also a clear possibility as the current number 5 defenseman under contract for them is former WashingtonCapital/Hershey Bear Lawrence Nycholat.

- The Minnesota Wild and their 18,000+ fans at every game have made a few smart moves so far this off season so they have $11.4M of Cap Room to fill their 4 open roster slots and they've signed five players this past week as well as well as taking a run at signing Marian Hossa. The Wild only have two unsigned RFAs at this point and are solid both "between the pipes" and "at the blue line" so could make a run at a couple of offensive minded RFAs with offer sheets but with $11.4M of Cap room this year, and looking at the need to re-sign Marian Gaborik as a UFA next year, any RFA offer sheets the Wild make will proabably be sane enough for the RFA's current team to match. In the case of the Caps RFA's while Brooks Laich might be a good fit for the Wild it's hard to imagine them offering him more than say $2.5M or a term longer than a couple of years and something like that GMGM would likely both be able to and want to match.

- Florida has $11.3M of Cap room, two unsigned restricted free agents and a fairly full roster. Expect the re-signing of Jay Bouwmeester to use $6M +/- $500K of the available salary cap; then the Panthers will likely match any reasonable offer sheet that Right Wing Anthony Stewart might get if he doesn't just take his qualifying offer, as you would expect from a guy who is a 2003 first round pick with only 2 NHL goals and 46 games of NHL experience. What the Panthers do with the remaining $5M of salary cap space is anybody's guess - they've done a good job of retooling after dealing Olli Jokenen to Phoenix picking up two more solid defensemen in that deal and UFA forward Corey Stillman. One thing they could do is try and extend an offer sheet to Brooks Laich - his numbers and style of play compliment their needs - but given their small amount of cap room after matching any Bouwmeester offer sheet probably wouldn't enable them to offer anything that GMGM and the Caps wouldn't gladly match.

- Carolina has 2 unsigned RFAs a fairly full roster and $9.5M of cap space - they could are solid in the net and at the blue line but some of their own free agent losses mean they probably wouldn't mind having some more offensive punch in their arsenal. For Washington Capital fans that means the only worry is Brooks Laich, also since GMGM has made it clear Matt Cooke isn't within the Capitals affordability curve this season and the Hurricanes have both the payroll room and roster space, don't be surprised if they make a sane offer to Laich and also a fair offer that puts Matt Cooke, or one of several other guys like him, in Hurricane Red to start the season.

- Now time to look at two teams that are likely harder to anticipate and figure out - Columbus and Nashville. First Columbus, current payroll room $17.7M and two open roster spots. In addition to the basic on ice hockey factors, the ownership is in some transition, though the team is stable and firmly rooted in Columbus, as the team founder and original majority owner John H. McConnell passed away this year and his son John P. McConnell has a legacy to uphold. The Blue Jackets have already been quite active this free agent season signing defenseman Mike Commodore on July 1st, and winger Kristian Huselius on July 2nd. In addition to these two high profile signings expect the Jackets to match anything but a totally insane offer sheet to RFA goaltender Pascal Leclaire who is coming off a breakout season, it wouldn't take a gambler to bet that will cost them between $3.5 and $4.5M of their $17.7M cap room given the current set of available #1 goalies and the number of teams who ought to be looking for a #1 tender. That would leave Columbus with $13.2M to match any offer sheets their remaining three RFAs might get. Given the Blue Jackets are a small market team, and assuming the prior moves are made, that takes them to a actual total payroll of ~$49M so the only other probable action would be to wait a while and see if there are some bargains to be had in late July and August after a few more teams "cap out" in the next couple of days.

- All the above brings us to last but not least - Nashville - given all the churning with regard to ownership, etc. the Predetors appear committed to working hard to "stand pat" and hold a stable roster. In a very smart move they re-signed Goalie Dan Ellis to a sensible 2 year contract. Now they are well positioned to preserve their roster's talented young players by matching anything but insane offer sheets. Then regardless of what type of "Payton Place" drama happens with the ownership of this team they will be well positioned to see who might help them that needs a job in late July and August. Of course what this means is that I feel any analysis of the data is pointless with these guys right now since there's all sorts of distractions and these guys have a pretty sound on ice product as is. It is interesting to note that while researching this piece I looked over lots of data on the web as well including each team's web site, looking at all the other teams in this post's sites its easy to see lots of team releases about their free agent signings, their draft, and their upcoming prospects camp - at Nashville's site the five news stories currently are - "Preds Visit Safety Day at Ft. Cambell"; "Local Youth Got Skills at Nationals"; "Magical Appearance at Dancer Auditions"; "Preds Acquire Ryan Jones, '09 Second Round Pick from Minnesota"; and "Predators Around Town" - notice anything different than at most sites? That said most Predator fans are quite pleased with the Ellis signing and the current state of their team from looking at their message boards.

Tarik reported last evening that for the Caps other than working to hold their RFAs and sign Sergei Federov, GMGM says the Caps won't be looking at the free agent market at all until August when all the dust settles. Per Tarik: "*McPhee also said he doesn't envision making another free agent signing. At least not right away."

Things look pretty good for the Caps, Development Camp starts at Kettler on Monday and I'm going to try and stop and watch some of it before heading out of town on Tuesday, if I do I'll try and take some pics and post them. Additional articles with some more analysis are probably in the offing though I fully expect after posting this article numerous events will occur in the next couple of days that show well why I get paid to analyze things other than Hockey and i don't get paid to analyze and comment on the NHL. In any case - the more I look at recent events the more I think the Caps are going in the right direction and making the best possible moves.

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Free Agency Day 2 Recap

Fast & Furious Activity Continues As 15 NHL Teams Cut Deals with 22 More Players

First a recap of today's transactions by team:

Tampa Bay (Southeast Division) (2 More Deals - though both were RFA re-signings):

At 9:18AM, they announced they had re-signed RFA forward Ryan Craig to a two-year contract worth $1.575-million; then about an hour later at 10:20AM, announced the re-signing of RFA defenseman Janne Niskala, to a one-year deal worth $600,000.

Carolina Hurricanes (Southeast Division) (2 deals):

At 11:13AM Carolina announced they had signed UFA defensemen Josef Melichar to a one-year contract worth $1 million and Joni Pitkanen to a three-year contract worth $12 million.

Atlanta Thrashers (Southeast Division) (1 Deal):

At 3:38PM the Thrashers signed UFA defenseman Ron Hainsey to a five-year, $22.5 million contract.

Ottawa Senators (Eastern Conference) (2 Deals):

First at 2:33PM, the Sens signed UFA Forward Shean Donovan to a two-year contract worth $1.25 million; then at 3:03PM they signed UFA Forward Jarkko Ruutu, most recently of the Pittsburgh Penguins, to a three-year, $3.9 million contract.

Boston Bruins (Eastern Conference) (1 Deal):

The Bruins signed RFA Forward Petteri Nokelainen, at 1:52PM to a 2-year, $1.7 million contract.

Pittsburgh Penguins (Eastern Conference) (1 Deal):

At 4:58PM the Penguins re-signed UFA defenseman Brooks Orpik to a six-year, $22.5 million contract (to the chagrin of "several" regular "blog posters.").

Philadelphia Flyers (Eastern Conference) (2 deals):

The Flyers announced they re-signed defenseman Randy Jones (2-years, undisclosed) and forward Riley Cote (3-years, undisclosed) at 6:05PM.

New York Islanders (Eastern Conference) (1 Deal):

At 6:27PM the Islanders signed UFA forward Doug Weight to a 1-year, $1.75 million contract.

Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference) (2 Deals):

At 12:01PM, they announced the signing of UFA forward Ryan Johnson to a 2-year contract for $2.3 million. Then at 12:45PM the Canucks signed UFA goaltender Curtis Sanford to a 1-year, $650,000 contract.

Detroit Red Wings (Western Conference/Stanley Cup Champs) (1 Deal, but it's a whopper):

The "rich got richer" when, at 12:35PM, the boys over at "Hockeytown" signed UFA forward Marian Hossa to a one-year contract worth $7.4 million.

Calgary Flames (Western Conference) (2 Deals):

At 1:00PM, the Flames announced the signing UFA defenseman Jim Vandermeer and forward Curtis Glencross to contracts but did not disclose any terms of either deal.

Dallas Stars (Western Conference) (2 Deals):

The Stars announced they had signed UFA forward Sean Avery to a four year, $15.5 million contract at 1:22PM. Then at 5:16PM, the Stars signed RFA forward B.J. Crombeen to a 1-year contract.

Minnesota Wild (Western Conference) (1 Deal):

Minnesota re-signed RFA defenseman Kurtis Foster to a 1-year contract for $1.025 million.

Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference) (1 Deal):

Just after 5:00PM, this evening, the Av's announced they had re-signed RFA forward Wojtek Wolski to a 2-year deal of otherwise undisclosed terms.

Columbus Blue Jackets (Western Conference) (1 deal):

At 9:26PM the Blue Jackets sign UFA winger Kristian Huselius to a 4-year, $4.75 million contract.

More discussion and analysis later after a little "more dust settles."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Free Agency Activity Recap Through the End of "Day1 of the UFA Period"

NHL Free Agency Activity Fast & Furious For The Last Two Weeks

Over the past couple of weeks twenty-five of the thirty teams in the NHL have signed or re-signed a total sixty-three players, since June 19th. The most active and acquisitive teams have been Tampa Bay and New Jersey, each team involved in six (6) signings and/or re-signings. The New York Rangers have 5 signings including adding two solid D-Men in front of a great goaltender. True to his words since the end of the season, Caps GM George McPhee has not been that active though he did make major progress in his goal of retaining the young talent the Caps have drafted and grown over the past couple of seasons AND making sure the Caps had two good NHL caliber goalies signed before the start of camp today. As a recap and to get an idea as to how rosters are shaping up around the NHL for next season below is a team by team summary of the restricted and unrestricted free agent signing activity through 10:00 PM EDT, Tuesday, July 1 2008. (Source Data -

Washington Capitals (2 Deals including the Theodore "surprise"):

8:45AM July 1, re-signed RFA defenseman Mike Green to a four-year deal worth $21 million (average of $5.25 million per season).
July 1 2:53PM, signed UFA goaltender Jose Theodore to a 2 year, $9M contract.

Tampa Bay Lightning (Southeast Division) (6 deals so far):

June 29 8:00PM, signed forward Ryan Malone to seven-year, $31.5 million contract.
June 30 8:03AM, signed forward Gary Roberts to a one-year contract.
5:55PM June 30, signed forward Vaclav Prospal to a multi-year contract.
July 1 12:52PM, signed UFA forward Radim Vrbata to a $9-million, three-year contract.
3:38PM July 1, signed UFA forward Adam Hall to a 3 year deal worth $1.8-million.
July 1st 4:14PM,Tampa Bay signed UFA goaltender Olaf Kolzig to a 1 year deal worth $1.5-million (plus bonuses).

Minnesota Wild (Western Conference) (2 deals):

July 1 1:58PM, signed UFA forward Andrew Brunette to 3 year deal worth $7-million.
July 1st 7:59PM, signed forward Craig Weller to a two-year contract worth $600,000 a season

New York Rangers (Eastern Conference) (5 deals):

July 1 3:40PM, signed UFA forward Aaron Voros, deal terms were undisclosed.
6:15PM July 1, announced they had signed UFA forward Patrick Rissmiller to an undisclosed deal.
6:42PM July 1, re-signed UFA defenseman Michael Rozsival to a four-year deal worth $20 million.
7:37PM July 1, signed UFA defenseman Wade Redden to a six-year contract worth $39 million.
July 1st 9:50PM, Rangers announced they had re-signed goaltender Steve Valiquette deal terms were not disclosed.

New Jersey Devils (Eastern Conference) (6 deals):

10:21AM July 1, agreed to terms with defenseman Bryce Salvador on a four-year deal worth $11.6 million (average of $2.9 million per season).
11:35AM July 1st New Jersey announced they re-signed forwards Jay Pandolfo (3 years, $7.5-million) David Clarkson (undisclosed) and Barry Tallackson (undisclosed); they also announced they had declined on their option on forward Sergei Brylin.
6:24PM July 1, signed UFA forward Brian Rolston to a four year deal worth $20.25-million.
July 1 7:18PM, signed UFA forward Bobby Holik to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million.

Toronto Maple Leafs (Eastern Conference) (3 deals):

At 3:24PM July 1, announced the signing of UFA goaltender Curtis Joseph to a 1 year deal worth $700,000, and UFA defenseman Jeff Finger to a 4 year deal worth $3.5-million a season.
July 1 6:42PM, signed UFA forward Niklas Hagman to a four-year contract worth $12 million.

Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference) (2 deals):

1:33PM July 1st, signed RFA forward Kyle Wellwood to a 1 year deal worth $997,500.
At 6:34PM July 1, signed UFA forward Darcy Hordichuk to a two-year deal.

Philadelphia Flyers (Eastern Conference) (3 deals in addition to signing Steve Eminger):

At 6:06PM July 1, signed UFA defenseman Ossi Vaananen to a one year deal worth $1-million.
At 6:32PM July 1, announced the signing of UFA forward Glen Metropolit to a two-year deal.
At 6:33PM July 1, signed UFA forward Nate Raduns to a one-year deal.

Columbus Blue Jackets (Western Conference) (1 deal):

At 6:01PM July 1, signed UFA defenseman Mike Commodore to a 5 year deal worth $18.75-million.

Chicago Black Hawks (Western Conference) (2 deals):

July 1 3:43PM, the Black Hawks signed UFA goaltender Cristobal Huet to a 4 year, $22million deal.
At 5:40PM July 1, Chicago signed UFA defenseman Brian Campbell to an 8 year deal worth $56.8-million.

Buffalo Sabres (Eastern Conference) (2 deals):

June 30 6:45PM, re-signed forward Paul Gaustad to a four-year, $9.2 million contract.
At 5:04PM July 1, signed UFA goaltender Patrick Lalime to a 2 year deal worth $2-million.

New York Islanders (Eastern Conference) (1 deal):

July 1st 8:06PM, signed defenseman Mark Streit to a five-year contract worth $20.5 million.

Ottawa Senators (Eastern Conference) (2 deals, exclusive of the Ray Emery buyout):

June 20 8:00PM, the Senators announced they have re-sign forward Chris Kelly to a four-year, $8.5 million contract.
July 1 4:27PM, Ottawa signed UFA goaltender Alex Auld to a 2 year deal worth $2-million.

Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference) (4 deals):

June 29 9:20PM, announce they have signed defenseman John-Michael Liles to four-year, $16 million contract and Adam Foote to an undisclosed contract.
July 1 3:03PM, signed UFA goaltender Andrew Raycroft to a 1 year deal worth $800,000.
July 1 st 4:02PM, signed UFA forward Darcy Tucker to a 2 year deal worth $4.5-million.

Saint Louis Blues (Western Conference) (1 RFA Offer Match):

3:49PM July 1, St. Louis matched Vancouver's offer sheet to RFA forward David Backes at 3 years, $7.5-million.

Florida Panthers (Southeast Division) (1 deal):

At 3:41PM July 1, signed UFA forward Cory Stillman to a 3 year deal worth $10.6-million.

Pittsburgh Penguins (Eastern Conference) (3 deals in addition to their trades to create Cap Room and give negotiating rights to others):

July 1 11:58PM, signed forward Pascal Dupuis to a three-year deal which will average $1.4-million per year.
2:02PM July 1, re-signed UFA defenseman Mark Eaton to a 2 year deal worth $2-million.
July 1 3:40PM, signed UFA forward Eric Godard to a 3 year deal, other terms were undisclosed.

Phoenix Coyotes (Western Conference) (2 deals):

2:50PM July 1, signed UFA defenseman Kurt Sauer to a 4 year deal worth an average of $1.75-million a year.
July 1 3:09PM, signed UFA forward Todd Fedoruk to a 3 year deal, other terms were undisclosed.

Detroit Red Wings (Western Conference, 2008 Stanley Cup Champions) (3 deals):

June 30 6:53PM, re-signed defenseman Andreas Lilja to a two-year contract.
11:58AM July 1, announced they and veteran defenseman Brad Stuart have agreed to terms on a 4 year contract that averages 3.75 per year.
July 1 3:07PM, signed UFA goaltender Ty Conklin to a 1 year deal worth $750,000.

Montreal Canadiens (Eastern Conference, 2008 Conference Regular Season Champs) (1 deal):

July 1 3:07PM, re-signed RFA forward Andrei Kostitsyn to a 3 year deal worth $3.25-million a season.

Boston Bruins (Eastern Conference) (2 deals):

July 1 12:55PM, signed UFA forward Blake Wheeler to an entry-level contract.
July 1st 9:58PM, Boston announced they have signed forward Michael Ryder to a 3-year deal worth $12 million.

Anaheim Ducks (Western Conference) (1 deal):

July 1 12:04PM, re-signed forward Corey Perry to a five-year deal worth $26.625-million which will average $5.325-million a year.

San Jose Sharks (Western Conference) (3 deals):

June 25 4:40PM, the Sharks announced they had re-signed forward Jeremy Roenick to an undisclosed contract and goaltender Brian Boucher to an undisclosed contract.
June 30 6:39PM, re-signed forward Jody Shelley to a two-year contract.

Calgary Flames (Western Conference) (4 deals):

June 27 2:10PM, re-signed forwards Daymond Langkow to a 4-year deal worth $18 million. (average of $4.5 million per season), Craig Conroy to an undisclosed contract, Eric Nystrom to an undisclosed contract, and goaltender Curtis McElhinney to an undisclosed contract.

Nashville Predators (Western Conference) (1 deal):

June 19 3:00PM, Nashville announced they've re-signed goaltender Dan Ellis to a two-year, $3.5 million contract.

The landscape in the Eastern Conference as well as the Southeast Division will surly be different next season, virtually all these moves will make their respective teams stronger, though the earlier pre-Draft Day trade of Ollie Jokennen from Florida to Phoenix leaves some big shoes to be filled in Sunrise, FL at the offensive end of the ice. Will Wade Redden be the second coming of Brad Park for the New York Rangers? Will Jose Theodore make Caps Fans forget the spectacular end of season run by Cristobel Huet this year? Will Tampa Bay's turbo-charged offense overwhelm opponents? Will the Caps continue their upward trajectory and amass over 100 points next season? The answers to these and all your questions are just 2 1/2 short months away.

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

It's Official - Godzilla Goes To Tampa

Long Time Washington Capital Olie Kolzig Signs One Year Deal With Division Rival Tampa Bay

It's official, after 19 years, including 10 seasons in a row as their number 1 goaltender, long time Cap Olie Kolzig signed a 1 year, $1.5M (+ incentives) deal with Cap's division rival Tampa Bay Lightning. Kolzig could well be a perfect fit for what the Lightning needs in the net. The Kolzig signing compliments the numerous other deals Tampa Bay has made over the past two weeks and the Lightning will be a strong team, in what will likely be the most improved division in the NHL next year. With the moves made by Tampa Bay, the basically stable Carolina Hurricanes, as well as the coming of age of the Washington Capitals, the Southeast Division has three teams that could easily be predicted to make the playoffs, while no one should write off the Atlanta Thrashers and even though it appears the Florida Panthers will do some rebuilding next season, they won't be pushovers either with an improved defense.

The best place to track free agent signings is probably here - there is just too much going on to cover here and when the dust settles some real analysis can be completed on what it all means.

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

Relief and Surprise!!!!

Caps Sign Mike Green and Jose Theodore

It's been a day so far. The Washington Capitals first signed Mike Green to a four year $21 million dollar contract and then inked a two year deal with one of the better Unrestricted Free Agent Goalies on the market - Jose Theodore reportedly for 2 years at $4.5M per year. This should work out fine for the Capitals and I believe is a good deal by GM George McPhee and crew, they must have felt they were not getting anywhere fast on a key element of negotiations with Cristobel Huet's camp - likely either the dollars or the contract term. Clearly, the amount seems fair given the fact that only Theodore, Olie Kolzig, and Huet are proven, work-horse number 1 Goalies in the UFA market and Kolzig probably wasn't an option and is rumoured to be well along in negotiations with Tampa Bay. The next viable option would be Ty Conklin though he has yet to have an entire solid season behind himself and has little playoff experience.

These deal looks to me to give the Caps most of, if not all the room they'll need to keep the current team, with the possible exception of Matt Cooke together for next season.

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