Monday, May 18, 2009

The Caps 2008/2009 - Were They Worth It - The Forwards

Were They Worth It?

A Review Of This Year's Performances By Each of the Players Who Were A Washington Capitals Uniform In Comparison to Their Salary & Salary Cap Hit - One Uneducated Fan's Opinion

I figured I’d take a shot looking over the full list of players who wore a Capitals Sweater (defined here as incurred at least one day of salary cap cost) this past season. I’m asking the question “Were They Worth It?” “It” being the salary they were paid and the roster slot. This review attempts to acknowledge that there is a salary cap in today’s NHL and that means that not every roster slot can be filled by a superstar, or even the best player in the league in a particular role. The question primarily asks: Given what Caps ownership paid a particular player and the role the coaching staff seemed, from this uneducated individual’s perspective, wanted the particular player to fill, did they meet or exceed expectations? It also then attempts to look forward and say do they deserve a roster slot again next season?

This effort and list is in descending order, by 2008/2009 salary cap hit. I’ve broken out my efforts by Forwards, Defense, and Goaltender, this list is just the Forwards, next I’ll do the others. The salary data is from "". The commentary and links to statistics are provided so you can verify the basis for my commentary, I'm sure not everyone will agree with my grades or even some of the basis for them but that's why this is just one man's opinion. Have at it.

1) Alexander Ovechkin:

2008/2009 Cap Hit#: $9.538M; 2008/2009 Salary: $9.538M

For "The Great Eight" to be worth his league maximum salary cap hit he has to play great all season long on the ice and in the playoffs; he also has to be a great attendance draw. This season, as last, Alex has exceeded those "basic" requirements. He of course has led the league in goals scored in the regular season each of these two past seasons; this seaso he also greatly improved his defensive play and in the playoffs he was clearly a team leader in every sense of the word. That all went along with at least two highlight reel goals this season that will long be included in amazing on ice efforts.

- Overall grade value delivered vs. "cost": Solid A.

- Contract status: Ovechkin is signed to a long term contract with the Capitals for 9-10M per season through 2021. He will be back next season and for many to come.

- Deserving of a roster spot next year?: No question at virtually any price.

2) Michael Nylander:

2008/2009 Cap Hit#: $4.875M; 2008/2009 Salary: $5 0M

The 36 year old “Nyls” had a very disappointing season he played 72 games in the regular season but only 3 in the playoffs. His regular season numbers were significantly off his 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 numbers; the 36 year old finished the regular season with only 9 goals and 24 assists for 33 points. Plus/minus he was even. This despite playing on a higher powered offense on both the first and second line and getting a fair amount of plower play time. It is clear that Nyls doesn't fit with the current "playbook" but his contract, age and the current CBA make it likely he will return again next season. In order for the Capitals to make use of his skills and for him to finish his NHL career in a manner he no doubt wants, contributing in a meaningful fashion, he needs to adjust his style of play and adapt. Whether he will successfully do so or not will determine whether the Caps will ever get any reasonable value out of his considerable cap hit and salary. Such was definitely NOT the case this past season.

- Overall grade value delivered vs. "cost": F.

- Contract status: Nylander is signed with the Capitals through the 2010/2011 season. He will make 5.5M again next season and then 3.0M during the last season of his contract. As has been covered elsewhere and well previously, a buyout really doesn’t make sense or appear likely. He reportedly has a No Movement Clause in his contract, not an unreasonable thing for a nice guy with seven children to have asked for when he was pursued by the Caps as an unrestricted free agent after the 2006/2007 season.

- Deserving of a roster spot next season: NO; but he'll probably get one since we probably can’t deal him and buying him out doesn’t make sense either.

3) Alexander Semin:

2008/2009 Cap Hit#: $4.600M; 2008/2009 Salary: $4.2M

Twenty four year old, Alexander “Sasha” Semin is one of the most talented forwards in the NHL. In 2008/2009 he had a solid season; he finished the regular season tied for 18th league-wide in scoring (points) and 16th for goals scored. He did that despite missing 20 games to injury. His 1.27 points average per game in the regular season was 6th in the league and his 1.0 points per game in the playoffs was 13th. With 8 game winners, he was second on the team only to Ovechkin's 10 GWG as well. From my vantage point in Section 103, Semin has constantly been worth his salary since he received his current contract extension. I know some folks will disagree but I believe the increased emphasis he displayed in tightening up his backchecking this year should quiet them. The only dings anyone can really throw at him are his durability and his occasional lapses in discipline that can result in penalties at inopportune times. Semin seems to have benefited most from the presence of veteran Sergei Fedorov on the Caps, his defensive play has improved dramatically this past season and he led the Caps in +/- in the regular season with a +25. That resulted in his average TOI being up and he also contributed well when asked on the penalty kill unit in addition to lighting the red light 8 of his 34 times on the power play.

- Overall grade value delivered vs. "cost": Solid A.

- Contract status: Sasha will return to the Capitals next season and earn a salary of 5.0 million, at the end of the 2009/2010 season he will be a restricted free agent, if he achieves his potential and has a 40+ goal season in 2009-2010, the Caps will need to worry about someone putting a stupid, high priced offer sheet in front of him.

- Deserving of a roster spot next season: Definitely YES, as well as, hopefully, a contract extension before he starts getting overtures about offer sheets.

4) Sergei Federov:

2008/2009 Cap Hit#: $4.000M; 2008/2009 Salary: $4M

The now 39 year old Fedrov is a future hall of famer and he has played like one since joining the Capitals as a trade deadline pickup during the 2007/2008 season. Despite some injury woes this past regular season he played 52 games during the regular season and all 14 of the Caps playoff games. His influence on the team has been very positive; he is clearly a leader, especially to the young Russians on the team, even Ovechkin. His numbers this past season were solid; his contributions included play at both Center and on Defense. His game winning goal in the seventh game of the rangers series alone was worth well over half his $4M cap hit; then his play through the third period of the game seven against the Penguins on defense when an injured Mike Green was not played, solidified his position as a selfless contributor who wants to win with the Capitals. His faceoff numbers and abilities alone are also worth a lot on this team that sometimes has real lapses in that area. Whether the Capitals can again figure out how to afford him or he can again find the camaraderie of the youthful, Russian superstars energizing enough to return for a 20th NHL season remains to be seen. I for one am hoping the specter of playing for Russia in the 2010 Olympics and possibly winning another Stanley Cup with a Washington Capitals team in 2010 enough to lure him back. If he wants to come back, I'm hoping Caps General manager George McPhee can find a way to pay him enough to make it possible for him to do so.

- Overall value delivered vs. "cost": A.

- Contract status: The 39 year old Federov had a one year contract this past season for $4M and is now an Unrestricted Free Agent. He had been expected to retire after last season but was attracted to playing a 19th NHL season by the prospect of playing with his fellow countrymen on the Capitals. That may once again be a possibility however; once again, the Capitals have some salary cap management challenges that need to be dealt with before that can become a reality.

- Deserving of a roster slot next season? Yes, at a $2 - 3M price tag, Federov's contributions, experience and mentorship of young Russians Ovechkin, Semin and now probably Varlamov is a solid and good investment for the Capitals. Besides, wouldn't it be sweet for him to win a last Stanley Cup in a Capitals uniform and then debate whether he wants to be enshrined in Toronto in either a Capitals uniform or as a Red Wing?

5) Chris Clark:

2008/2009 Cap Hit#: $2.633M; 2008/2009 Salary: $2.75M

The 33 year old captain of the Capitals had a tough season this year. He spent a significant portion of the season on Long term Injured reserve and played only 32 regular season games; he also spent much of it bouncing around on various line assignments. Even in the 32 games he did play in his 9th NHL season Clark struggled but when he got his chance in the 8 playoff games he got in, he seemed to return to form. Bottom line is the jury is still out on where and how Clark will contribute to the 2009/2010 Capitals but he seems determined to do so in a manner fitting of a team captain. Whether that will happen also remains to be seen, his salary cap hit next year will be $2.67M and that may also factor into what happens to him. He is a fan favorite and a team leader. He also has the ability to provide the Capitals some much needed traffic in front of the net though he hasn't been as quick to do so since suffering an injury while doing so during the 2007/2008 season.

- Overall value delivered vs. "cost": D.

- Contract status: The Captain is signed to the Capitals through the end of the 2010/2011 season at which time he will be 35 years old and an unrestricted free agent. His salary next season is $2.65M and his cap hit is $2.633. Despite being a fan favorite and team leader, his salary was negotiated after he scored 30 goals and had 24 assists during the 2006-2007 seasons, the past two seasons haven't been kind to him and it is possible the Caps may need to find some cap space and attempt to trade him or buy him out to do so. That won't be a popular move with the fan base however; the Caps may need to do it to somehow make room to bring in whatever key final pieces they need to go to the next level.

- Deserving of a roster slot next season: Maybe/MaybeNot. I like "The Captain" but being objective and looking at a $2.667M salary cap hit next season, I think you have to call this one a "toss-up" at best. The sentimentalist in me hopes he's back, but if he's not so they can bring in something we all agree they need, I won't be irate. If he does end up back on the Caps he needs to adjust his game like he did in the Penguins’ series and really drive to the net and play inside more.

6) Viktor Kozlov:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $2.500M; 2008/2009 Salary: $2.500M

The 34 year old Kozlov had his most productive playoffs ever in his 11th NHL season including both his first playoff goal during the Ranger series, and a two goal game in game 6 of Pittsburgh series. His regular season statistics were in line with his career averages except for his +/- number of -9. However Kozlov's regular season Corsi rating this past year of 15.4 is one of the better numbers for a player with 50 or more regular season outings. His $2.5M cap hit this past season delivered 1.66 Pts/60 however his GFON/60 was only 2.84 while his GAON/60 was 3.12 despite often playing with both Ovechkin and Backstrom who had significantly better numbers in both regards.

- Overall value vs. "cost": C-.- Contract status: Kozlov is an unrestricted free agent and rumours abound that he will play in Russia next season. However, it's also clear he enjoys playing with his countrymen on the Capitals so that remains to be seen. It is unlikely though he will be offered a contract as rich as the one he is coming off of to return, if the Caps want him back. He is a talented player who at times is dazzling however, he also has times where it is clear he is not playing up to his potential. He is a flexible guy who can play both center or wing and he has the size to crash the net though he has not often done so.

- Deserving of a roster slot next season? Another "toss-up" though he probably won’t be back and that’s understandable. If he insists on as much or more than he got last season, the answer to the question becomes NO. It hurts to say that because like any Caps fan you want to believe the team has what it takes to get further then they did this year with no changes. That’s really not the case and to make the improvements needed the Cap room has to come from somewhere. Truth be told, the only reasons this is even a toss-up to me is because of his solid showing in the playoffs. He had been relatively unremarkable in a contract year putting his status in jeopardy before he had his best playoffs ever.

7) Nicklas Backstrom:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $2.4M; Salary: $850K, Bonus: $1.35M

No sophomore slump this year for this young and rising star. The 21 year old Backstrom had a super sophomore season this year. The Swede's 66 assists led the team and his 88 points overall was second only to "The Great Eight." At times during this season some of them key he played pivot between Ovechkin and Semin on the "SOB" line and they dominated opponents. By the 20th game of this year there was no doubt who the number one center on the Capitals was and is - it's Backstrom, he has very quickly become the present instead of the future of the Capitals. Despite showing up for training camp with a few extra pounds he quickly worked himself into shape and by the playoffs this year he showed an ability to clearly handle the more physical nature of the second season. Backstrom's 15 points in 14 playoff games was second only to OV's 21 points for the Caps; his playoff performance was solid and he never wavered, there were many evenings where his play led the team when the rangers and Penguins focused on Ovechkin. His 66 assists in the regular season was third best in the league and his 88 points put him at 9th overall in league scoring.

- Overall value vs. "cost": Solid A.

- Contract status: Backstrom just completed his second year of his three year entry level contract. He will return to the Capitals next season for a salary of $850K with bonuses of up to $1.65M all of which he will no doubt earn. Hopefully, he will be signed to an extension early next season, if not this summer. If he is not he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2009/2010 season.

- Deserving of a roster slot next season? Definitely YES; it’s probably no question, even at twice the price as well.

8) Brooks Laich:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $2.067M 2008/2009 Salary: $1.7M

The popular 25 year old forward returned to the Capitals with a multimillion dollar contract extension after a breakout year, and despite no longer being able to fly under opponents' radars had a solid regular season and solid playoffs. His 53 points in 82 games was good for 5th best on the team and his 23 goals were fourth highest on the team. He achieved this moving around on various lines; he was especially effective on the power play where his gritty play in and around the net earned him 9 of his 23 goals. His GFON/60 was 3.06 vs a GAON/60 of 2.67 further reflecting his solid season. Laich is clearly part of the Capitals future plans and they/we need him to further cultivate his "netnose" and play a gritty game creating traffic down low even more next season. He was worth every penny of his $1.7M salary this past season and he will likely be well worth his $2+M salaries the next two seasons before he becomes an unrestricted free agent at age 27.

- Overall value vs. "cost": A.

- Contract status: The popular and talented Laich is signed through the end of the 2010/2011 season.

- Deserving of a roster slot next season? YES. Laich is clearly worth his current salary and contract. He is a solid contributor and top six forward on a very talented team.

9) Donald Brashear:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $1.200M; Salary: $1.2M

In many ways the 37 year old left wing, is the best "enforcer" in the NHL. His productivity is better than his peers and his fighting ability and "intimidation value" is as good as any of his contemporaries. The fact that he can and does contribute more than just intimidation is why he has been able to command a larger salary then most who serve his role. This past season "Brash" earned $1.2M and is now an Unrestricted Free Agent. While at age 37 he has lost a step and he was never the "fleetest of foot", he usually is able to make up for it with determination, smart play and short shifts. This past regular season he over 63 games played he averaged TOI/60 of 8.19 minutes; compare that and his productivity to guys like the Rangers' Colton Orr and Montreal's Georges Laraque and you can and will likely see why he makes twice that of Orr and wonder why Laraque makes more. The only things going against his return are his age, and the fact this last suspension made it clear the NHL's League office really would like to see the end of the enforcer, though that is not likely to happen and a team with as many high profile talented players as the Capitals sure still seems to need a good one.

- Overall value vs. "cost": B-

- Contract status: The fan popular "Brash" is now an Unrestricted Free Agent and rumored to be receiving offers to play in Russia next year for as much or more than he made here last season.

-Deserving of a roster slot next season?: Of the current Capital UFA's calling this one is probably the hardest. Who would the Caps out in this role if they don't resign Brashear, he is without a doubt, in my opinion the best in the NHL in this role but he is 37 and the Capitals need some salary cap room. Resigning him for $1M or more doesn't seem to be a smart move but the Capitals do need a good, relatively talented, big guy who can also serve as a "heavyweight" enforcer, if they can't find one for less than Brashear costs they should resign him. The fact he is also a great guy who is involved in the community and seemingly in all regards a solid citizen is another thing suggesting offering him a one year contract for a fair price as well, but there are other considerations like RFA Boyd Gordon who could get an offer sheet or two that should be settled first.

10) Matt Bradley:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $1.000M; Salary: $1.0M

The 30 year old"Brads" is a versatile and popular member of the Capitals. He is a model, selfless "grinder" with an enthusiasm, energy and demeanor that sure seem to point to the gritty 30 year old right wing finishing his career with the Capitals. This past season Bradley delivered a "solid body of work" both during the regular season and during the playoffs. He played 81 regular season games and 14 playoff games. He stepped up his play in the playoffs and delivered two goals and four assists proving some much needed secondary scoring. In this, his 8th NHL season, the Stittsville, Ontario native, played the Capitals "middleweight" enforcer role and also was a solid contributor to the third and fourth lines notching 5 regular season goals and 11 points. He is a durable and versatile grinder who works every shift to earn his pay.

- Overall value vs. "cost": Solid B (because of his playoffs as well as his shootout skills ;->).

- Contract status: Bradley is under contract through the end of the 2010/2011 season for $1.0 million per season.

- Deserving of a roster slot next season: That's an easy one to answer YES to.

11) Eric Fehr:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $735K; Salary: $735K

The 22 year Fehr has thus far failed to live up to the promise that led to the Capitals drafting him in the first round and 18th overall in the 2003 entry draft. However this past regular season he spent the full season up with the Capitals, played 61 games as well as 9 playoff games. During that time he showed some flashes of the promise that led to his high draft position and his relative performance vs. cap cost were in line. Fehr had 12 goals, 13 assists and 25 points putting him at 10th among Capitals forwards while his $735K cap hit put him at #11. In that vein, Fehr earned his keep and deserved his position and 10.39 minutes TOI/60, his 23.9 CORSI rating was/is also second best on the team so he's still seemingly a keeper, but with the many solid prospects in the Capitals pipeline he probably needs a breakout year next season to still be considered a potential future top six forward in the Capitals organization after the 2009/2010 season. The biggest "ding" on Fehr since he's been drafted has been his durability and he seemed to get over most of that this past season playing a full season with little time lost due to injuries. That said, if he can bulk up a little and get a little gritty so he goes down low more especially late in the season and the playoffs, with his net and puck sense, he'll have that breakout year and his worries will be over and behind him.

- Overall value vs. "cost": B.

- Contract status: Fehr is now a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) but will likely be resigned by the Capitals.

- Deserving of a roster slot?: Fehr is 22 years old and has some great puck handling skills as well as very soft hands and great puck-sense. As long as he doesn't get any ridiculous offer sheets, the Caps should sign him to another two year contract at a similar price to what they paid him this past season to see if he can stay healthy and their faith in him as a first rounder can pay off.

12) Tomas Fleischmann:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $725K; Salary: $725K

"Flash" had a couple of good stints this past regular season and down the stretch he often seemed to be the only Capital forward capable of playing with Michael Nylander without looking frustrated. That said I am of the opinion like many that while "Flash" had his best season yet and earned his keep, he did not earn the large amount of power play ice time he seemed to get the latter part of the season or in the playoffs. Instead, I believe he got that large amount of "prime time" because no other Capital seemed as likely to be able to potentially capitalize on it when the "first unit" guys were available for whatever reason in Coach Boudreau's eyes. Make no mistake with 19 goals, 18 assists and 37 points in 71 regular season games and 3 playoff goals including a game winner in the first game against Pittsburgh, the 25 year old Swede clearly earned his $725K. His regular season production ranks him 7th among all Caps and 6th among forwards while his price puts him at number 12 on cost so clearly that's good value. However, in the long haul to get to the next level and stay a "top six" forward on the Capitals, if the team is to get to the next level as well, the 6'1", 190# Swede needs to get more physical and drive to the net more as well as create more traffic in front of the net. While talented and a solid puck handler on a team with Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, that role is well filled and the Capitals need Fleischmann to develop a different dimension to his game else they may need to move him to make room to bring in someone else who does that and still provides 20+ goals/season.

- Overall value vs. "cost": C+

- Contract status: Fleischmann is under contract to the Capitals for a fair price of $725K/season through the end of the next (2009/2010) season. With any luck for both he and the Caps next season will be that no question breakout year that this season seemed like might happen.

- Deserving of a roster slot? At his current price, it seems worth giving "Flash" another year to see if he can become a solid top six forward. However, he like Fehr clearly has lots of "Baby Caps" nipping at his heels and he may be traded by Caps GM George McPhee for a good draft pick, to make room for them, or to provide fuel for some draft day moves.

13) Boyd Gordon:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $725K; Salary: $725K

Gordon, a 25 year old Saskatchewan native, is the Caps "shutdown guy." During the playoffs against Pittsburgh he often found himself facing the top line whenever the Caps didn't want to send out Sergei Federov, he is also a top faceoff man on a team where the other one was 39 years old. He, along with Matt Bradley, and David Steckel, is the face of the Capitals' "grinders" and checking line guys. "Gordo's" 2008-2009 performance was solid; he clearly deserved his $725K salary and seemed to deliver everything he was asked to provide the team. Because of his role, Gordon's traditional statistics don't ever seem to properly reflect his value, in my opinion. His value is better understood looking at his FO% both by game and overall for the Pittsburgh playoff series for example: game 1 - 20%, game 2 - 54%, game 3 - 88.9%, game 4 - 87.5%, game 5 - 83/3%, game 6 - 60.0%, game 7 - 77.8%.

- Overall value vs. "cost": A.

-Contract status: Gordon is a restricted free agent (RFA) and may get a few interested parties due to his capabilities as a penalty killer and in the faceoff circle.

- Deserving of a roster slot? Yes at a fair price/as long as no one puts a ridiculous or stupid offer sheet in front of him, he should be back.

14) David Steckel:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $512K; Salary: $525K

The 27 year old Ohio State University product and Milwaukee, WI native is and was probably the best bargain on the Capitals line-up this season. His played in 76 regular season and 14 playoff games to earn his $500K this year. For that he delivered 8 goals and 19 points in the regular season. He scored 3 playoff goals including the Game 6 winner in OT against Pittsburgh and during the regular season his 58.2% faceoff % was fourth best in the league.

- Overall value vs. "cost": A+.

- Contract status: Steckel is signed with the Capitals through the end of next season and will earn $725K for the 2009-2010 campaign.

- Deserving of a roster slot? Definitely YES.

15) Quintin Laing:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $487K; Salary: $475K

The popular "Q" was injured late in the season in Hershey when he suffered a lacerated spleen in late March. He has been out since then. He played 39 games in a Capitals uniform in the 2007-2008 season becoming a fan favorite and developed a reputation as a shot blocker; however, this season he played with Hershey most of the season and only appeared as a Capital one game before he got injured. He is 29 years old and this may be the end of the line for the rugged Left Wing from Rosetown, Saskatchewan.

- Overall value vs. "cost": B.
- Contract status: Laing earned 500K last season and is now an unrestricted free agent (UFA). He would likely be glad to be resigned by the Capitals or any other NHL team to a league minimum contract. He would certainly be a solid contributor for at least another season or two in Hershey and provide the Capitals with an excellent penalty killer if the Caps find Steckel and Boyd Gordon unavailable for a period during that time.
- Deserving of a roster slot? In DC only if both Steckel and Gordon are unavailable, that said he is a relatively cheap insurance policy and he is a positive presence in the locker room. "Q" is likely to find himself the victim of a pipeline full of talented, younger players in the Capitals organization.

16) Kieth Aucoin:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $487K; Salary: $475K

The 29 year old Aucoin was second in AHL scoring this regular season (Caps prospect, and fellow Hershey Bear, Alexandre Giroux was first) and provided spark to the Capitals in the 12 games which he appeared in a Caps "sweater" this regular season. In those 12 games he scored 2 goals and had 4 assists (0.5 ppg). The 29 year old, 5'9", 187# Center has appeared in 65 NHL and 505 AHL games during his 8 year professional hockey career. At this juncture both his age and diminutive size are working against him but his drive, puck sense and quick hands are all pretty impressive and the reason he is a solid playmaker as his AHL leading 71 assists in 70 games proved. In addition to his size and age, another thing working against Aucoin is the strength the Caps have at the Center position right now. That said if Federov opts not to return or the Caps opt not to bring him back, and the Caps can somehow deal Nylander, Aucoin becomes an option to fill a third or fourth line spot assuming Steckel and "Gordo" move up the depth chart.

- Overall value vs. "cost": A.
- Contract status: Aucoin earned $475K and is under contract to the Capitals next season for $500K. After next season he will be a UFA.
- Worth a roster spot? Possibly, he is definitely worth bringing to camp next August. Aucoin earned that during the 12 games he played in a Capitals uniform this past season.

17) Alexandre Giroux:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $475K; Salary: $475K

In addition to being the leading goal scorer in the AHL with 60 goals in 69 games played during the regular season, the 27 year old Center/Left Wing from Quebec also appeared in 12 NHL regular season games with the Caps this campaign and is currently leading the Hershey Bears in Calder Cup scoring as well. During his 12 games with the Caps, Giroux put 20 shots on net, scored a goal and had an assist. Drafted in 1999 the 6'3", 190# Giroux has only appeared in 22 NHL games (21 for the Caps over the past two seasons and 1 during the 2005-2006 season), that said the 2008-2009 AHL MVP might be ready for another shot in a Caps jersey, especially if he is ready to give Eric Fehr a run for his money and stand the punishment it takes to crash the net and camp down low for the rebound in the NHL.

- Overall value vs. "cost": A.
- Contract status: Giroux earned $475K this past year and after this season is an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA). He will likely be signed for a fair price to another league minimum contract and have a chance to earn a place on somebody's NHL roster next season.
- Deserving of a roster slot? Yes if he can be resigned at a fair price, the Caps should do so and invite him to camp.

18) Chris Bourque:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $625K; Salary: $675K

The 23 year old son of Bruin Hall of Famer Ray Bourque was drafted by the Capitals in 2004 in the second round and played 35 games at NCAA powerhouse Boston University before turning pro in 2005. This past season he played in eight games as a Capital and scored his first NHL goal. In Hershey he played in 70 plus games each of the past two seasons proving his durability despite his aggressive style of play and 5'8", 187# size.

- Overall value vs. "cost": B.
- Contract status: Bourque aka “C-Bo” becomes an RFA this summer and should be resigned to a league minimum contract with some incentives.
- Deserving of a roster slot? C-Bo continues to show flashes in Hershey and his short stay in a Caps sweater this season demonstrated promise; he’s close but not there yet for top flight NHL play. He should be brought to camp at Kettler in August but he needs to figure out how to get “scrappier” if he’s going to earn a full time roster slot.

19) Jay Beagle:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $875K; Salary: $688K, Bonus: $188K

The 23 year old had a solid year and performed well when called up to the Caps in the Series against the Penguins.

- Overall value vs. "cost": A.
- Contract status:. Beagle is under contract to the Capitals to an entry level contract through the 2009/2010 season at which time he will become a RFA.
- Deserving of a roster slot? He is a big, gritty, high energy forward and should be invited to the Caps Camp this summer to see if he can win a regular position on the third or fourth line.

20) Oscar Osala:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $850K; Salary: $685K, Bonus: $165K

The 21 year old Finnish rookie had a solid year and performed well in 75 regular season games for the Hershey Bears, scoring 23 goals and notching 14 assists; he also appeared in 2 regular season games for the Capitals. He was second among Bears rookies in scoring.

- Overall value vs. "cost": A.
- Contract status: Osala is under contract to the Capitals to an entry level contract through the 2010/2011 season at which time he will become a RFA.
- Deserving of a roster slot? Osala is another guy who should be invited to both development and possibly regular camp to see if he can give guys like “Flash” and Eric Fehr a run for their money.

20) Graham Mink:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $500K; Salary: $500K,

The 30 year old journeyman appeared in two games for the Capitals and had a very good AHL season for the Bears, so far he’s playoff contests. He scored 32 regular season goals and had 27 assists. He’s one of the team leaders for the Bears both on and off the ice and at 6-3’ 220# he is a rugged forward capable of filling multiple roles.

- Overall value vs. "cost": B.
- Contract status: Mink will be a UFA after this season and at age 30, the Stowe VT native may choose to hang up the skates and pursue his interests in New England rather than scramble and scrape for a roster slot next season if he isn’t picked up again by Hershey or Washington.
- Deserving of a roster slot? Graham Mink is a scrapper but with the pipeline of other players already in the Caps organization and another crop of draft picks to place it’s hard to see him ever getting back to the NHL with the Caps anytime soon.

21) Steve Pinnizotto:

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $715K; Salary: $580K,

Twenty four year old Pinnizotto was called up and shuttled on and off the Capitals roster for 1 day this season, he didn’t appear in any games and he was never assigned a jersey number. He is a 6’-1” 195# Center in his third year with the Hershey Bears. This season he’s had reasonable season with Hershey on their checking lines, he’s appeared 45 regular season and 12 playoff games for the Bears, he also played 11 games with the Capitals ECHL Affiliate South Carolina Stingrays and scored 4 goals this season as well.

- Overall value vs. "cost": C.
- Contract status: The 25 year old was signed to a two year entry level contract by the Caps in 2007 and becomes a RFA this summer.
- Deserving of a roster slot? Probably not, the pipeline is pretty full, but his size and solid defensive skills mean he’s worth considering. Additionally, so far he’s had a solid 2009 Calder Cup notching 3 goals and an assist in 12 games so far, so the Caps or someone else may opt to give him an offer for a league minimum contract.

22) Andrew Gordon

2008/2009 Cap hit#: $607K; Salary: $585K

The 23 year old Gordon is a compact right wing in his second year as a professional after being drafted in the 7th round of the rich 2004 entry draft and playing 3 seasons in the NCAA at Saint Cloud State. He appeared in his first NHL game this season for the Capitals but his only recorded statistic is 1 hit. He’s had a very good AHL season for the Bears, in 80 regular season games, he’s scored 21 regular season goals, had 24 assists and was + 16. In this season’s Calder Cup he’s played 13 games and scored 3 goals.

- Overall value vs. "cost": B.
- Contract status:. Gordon is under an entry level contract to the Capitals through the 2009/2010 Season at which time, he’ll become a RFA.
- Deserving of a roster slot? He deserves an invite to camp but it’s likely if the Caps are going to promote a 5’10” wing it’ll be C-Bo who wins the roster slot. That said Andrew Gordon could yet make it to the NHL the way he’s been playing in Hershey this past season.

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