Sunday, September 6, 2009

Finally! Rookie Camp Starts Tomorrow and I Follow-up On My Thoughts re: What About Nylander and Clark....

Finally...Some Caps Hockey News Is Likely to Start Being Made...

Rookie Camp opens at Kettler Center Iceplex (KCI) tomorrow, the Capitals announced the rosters, 23 players will participate in rookie camp starting tomorrow at KCI with a 10:30 a.m. practice and runs through Friday, Sept. 11, when the rookies visit Vorhees, N.J., for a scrimmage against the Flyers’ rookies at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. The rookie camp roster as announced is:
79 BRODA, Joel 6’1” 203 Left 11/24/89 Yorkton, Saskatchewan Moose Jaw/Calgary WHL
88 BRUESS, Trevor 6’0” 209 Right 1/6/86 Minneapolis, Minnesota Minnesota State-Mankato WCHA
67 CASAVANT, Benjamin 6’1” 200 Left 1/21/91 St-Hyacinthe, Quebec Prince Edward Island QMJHL
84 DELLA ROVERE, Stefan 5’11” 196 Left 2/25/90 Richmond Hill, Ontario Barrie/South Carolina OHL/ECHL
72 DUBUC, Michael 6’3” 170 Right 6/29/88 Granby, Quebec Hershey/South Carolina AHL/ECHL
50 EAKIN, Cody 5’11” 187 Left 5/24/91 Winnipeg, Manitoba Swift Current WHL
59 FINLEY, Joe 6’7” 245 Left 6/29/87 Edina, Minnesota North Dakota/Hershey WCHA/AHL
94 GUSTAFSSON, Anton 6’2” 195 Left 2/25/90 Karlskoga, Sweden Bofors Sweden
77 HAUSWIRTH, Jake 6’5” 200 Left 2/16/88 Merrill, Wisconsin Omaha USHL
65 JASINSKY, Ryan 6’2” 205 Right 1/13/90 Richmond, Virginia Victoriaville QMJHL
93 KUGRYSHEV, Dmitri 5’11” 192 Right 1/18/90 Moscow, Russia Quebec QMJHL
76 MITCHELL, Garrett 5’11 185 Right 9/2/91 Regina, Saskatchewan Regina WHL
74 CARLSON, John 6’3” 211 Right 1/10/90 Natick, Massachusetts London/Hershey OHL/AHL
38 DAWSON, Aaron 6’5” 220 Left 3/11/85 Peoria, Illinois Univ. of Prince Edward Island AUS
66 FLEMMING, Brett 5’11” 178 Right 2/26/91 Regina, Saskatchewan Mississauga St. Michael’s OHL
73 GODFREY, Josh 6’1” 199 Right 1/15/88 Collingwood, Ontario Hershey/South Carolina AHL/ECHL
96 KERR, Ryan 6’2” 208 Left 3/4/89 Lions Bay, British Columbia Portland WHL
86 MESTERY, Eric 6’5” 203 Left 5/28/90 Winnipeg, Manitoba Tri-City/Lethbridge WHL
68 MISKOVIC, Zach 6’0” 198 Right 5/8/85 River Forest, Illinois St. Lawrence ECAC
54 SCHMIDT, Kevin 6’1” 176 Left 2/14/86 Markham, Ontario Bowling Green CCHA
70 HOLTBY, Braden 6’1” 206 Left 9/16/89 Lloydminster, Saskatchewan Saskatoon WHL
30 NEUVIRTH, Michal 6’1” 197 Left 3/23/88 Usi Labem, Czech Republic CAPITALS/Hershey/South Car.NHL/AHL/ECHL
40 VARLAMOV, Semyon 6’1” 183 Left 4/27/88 Samara, Russia CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL.
A couple of interesting notes here. Joe Finley was announced as a forward so it does appear the Caps will try and get him to make the transition from large bruising defenseman to large, bruising, checking forward; a role we saw him play several times earlier this summer in development camp. Caps fans who stop by KCI for rookie camp will once again get to see Jake Hauswirth, Stefan Della Rovere, Trevor Bruess, Anton Gustafsson and Dmitri Kugryshev all work for a roster spot once again. All six of these guys performed well during this summers development camp at times, though Gustafsson appearance was shortened by injury. It will be interesting to see who from this group impresses enough to make which roster (South Carolina, Hershey, and even possibly the Capitals.) The Caps "System" is certainly remains quite full of talent. It's very interesting to me that despite the high powered offense the Caps skate and the pipeline full of talented scorers and offensive threats, the Caps have apparently decided to try and see if Finley can make the transition from the blue line and bulk up the skaters up front.
On the defensive side of the rookie camp roster, the most notable area is in the net - in Neuvirth and Varlamov, the Caps have two legitimate liely future NHL #1's and in Holtby, they have a guy who could also one day be "the guy" for an NHL team night in and night out. That these guys will be pushing each other throughout this entire year shouldn't be doubted at all. The blue liners you ask...Carlson, Godfrey, and Mestery are all names that rabid Caps fans have seen before and are looking forward to seeing make the jump to being pros in the Caps System but the other five D-men listed here, especially Miskovic, are all guys I want to see and check out as well. After all this is a pipeline that along with the group in Washington and Hershey that has GMGM and Bruce Boudreau pushing big Joe Finley from the blue-line up to winger.
I'm hoping to swing by KCI tomorrow and sneak a peek and maybe get a few pics in the AM.
Training camp for veterans begins Sunday, Sept. 13, when 48 players, including 32 who played at least a regular season game in a Capitals sweater last season join the rookies at KCI. The announced veteran training camp roster is:
20 AUCOIN, Keith 5’8” 165 Right 11/6/78 Waltham, Massachusetts CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
19 BACKSTROM, Nicklas 6’1” 210 Left 11/23/87 Gavle, Sweden CAPITALS NHL
83 BEAGLE, Jay 6’3” 208 Right 10/16/85 Calgary, Alberta CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
36 BOUCHARD, Francois 6’1” 190 Left 4/26/88 Sherbrooke, Quebec Hershey AHL
56 BOURQUE, Chris 5’8” 181 Left 1/29/86 Boston, Massachusetts CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
10 BRADLEY, Matt 6’3” 201 Right 6/13/78 Stittsville, Ontario CAPITALS NHL
17 CLARK, Chris 6’0” 196 Right 3/8/76 South Windsor, Connecticut CAPITALS NHL
16 FEHR, Eric 6’4” 212 Right 9/7/85 Winkler, Manitoba CAPITALS NHL
14 FLEISCHMANN, Tomas 6’1” 190 Left 5/16/84 Koprivnice, Czech Republic CAPITALS NHL
33 GIROUX, Alexandre 6’3” 201 Left 6/16/81 Quebec City, Quebec CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
63 GORDON, Andrew 5’11” 180 Right 12/13/85 Halifax, Nova Scotia CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
15 GORDON, Boyd 6’1” 201 Right 10/19/83 Unity, Saskatchewan CAPITALS NHL
61 JOUDREY, Andrew 5’11” 185 Left 7/15/84 Bedford, Nova Scotia Hershey AHL
34 KANE, Boyd 6’2” 225 Left 4/18/78 Swift Current, Saskatchewan Philadelphia/Philadelphia NHL/AHL
22 KNUBLE, Mike 6’3” 230 Right 7/7/72 Toronto, Ontario Philadelphia NHL
21 LAICH, Brooks 6’2” 210 Left 6/23/83 Wawota, Saskatchewan CAPITALS NHL
53 LAING, Quintin 6’2” 210 Left 6/8/79 Rosetown, Saskatchewan CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
9 MORRISON, Brendan 5’11” 181 Left 8/15/75 Pitt Meadows, British Columbia Anaheim/Dallas NHL
92 NYLANDER, Michael 6’1” 195 Left 10/3/72 Stockholm, Sweden CAPITALS NHL
48 OSALA, Oskar 6’4” 217 Left 12/26/87 Vaasa, Finland CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
8 OVECHKIN, Alex 6’2” 220 Right 9/17/85 Moscow, Russia CAPITALS NHL
85 PERREAULT, Mathieu 5’9” 166 Left 1/5/88 Drummondville, Quebec Hershey AHL
90 PINIZZOTTO, Steve 6’2” 196 Right 4/26/84 Mississauga, Ontario Hershey/South Carolina AHL/ECHL
45 REID, Darren 6’2” 202 Right 5/8/83 Lac La Biche, Alberta Hershey AHL
28 SEMIN, Alexander 6’2” 205 Right 3/3/84 Krasnojarsk, Russia CAPITALS NHL
39 STECKEL, David 6’5” 222 Left 3/15/82 Westbend, Wisconsin CAPITALS NHL
25 SUGDEN, Brandon 6’4” 233 Right 6/23/78 Toronto, Ontario Hartford AHL
57 WILSON, Kyle 6'0" 200 Right 12/15/84 Oakville, Ontario Hershey AHL
27 ALZNER, Karl 6’2” 205 Left 9/24/88 Burnaby, British Columbia CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
44 AMADIO, Greg 6’2” 232 Left 5/13/81 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Hershey AHL
62 COLLINS, Sean 6'1" 208 Right 10/20/83 Troy, Michigan CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
47 DENISOV, Vladimir 5’11” 207 Left 6/29/84 Novopolotzk, Belarus Hartford AHL
4 ERSKINE, John 6’4” 216 Left 6/26/80 Kingston, Ontario CAPITALS NHL
52 GREEN, Mike 6’2” 208 Right 10/12/85 Calgary, Alberta CAPITALS NHL
43 HELMER, Brian 6’2” 208 Right 6/15/72 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
23 JURCINA, Milan 6’4” 233 Right 6/7/83 Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia CAPITALS NHL
75 McNEILL, Grant 6’2” 220 Left 5/8/83 Vermilion, Alberta Hershey AHL
46 McNEILL, Patrick 6’0” 195 Left 3/17/87 Strathroy, Ontario Hershey AHL
26 MORRISONN, Shaone 6’4” 210 Left 12/23/82 Vancouver, British Columbia CAPITALS NHL
2 POTHIER, Brian 6’0” 200 Left 4/15/77 New Bedford, Mass. CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
3 POTI, Tom 6’3” 210 Left 3/22/77 Worcester, Mass. CAPITALS NHL
55 SCHULTZ, Jeff 6’6” 221 Left 2/25/86 Calgary, Alberta CAPITALS NHL
89 SLOAN, Tyler 6’3” 190 Left 3/15/81 Calgary, Alberta CAPITALS/Hershey NHL/AHL
41 WELLAR, Patrick 6’3” 210 Left 12/4/83 Carrot River, Saskatchewan Hershey/South Carolina AHL/ECHL
24 YEO, Dylan 5’11” 210 Left 6/16/86 Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Manitoba/Victoria AHL/ECHL
31 BACASHIHUA, Jason 5’11” 175 Left 9/20/82 Garden City, Michigan Lake Erie AHL
35 FORD, Todd 6’4” 176 Right 5/1/84 Calgary, Alberta Victoria ECHL
60 THEODORE, Jose 5’11” 182 Right 9/13/76 Laval, Quebec CAPITALS NHL.
For anybody who still might be wondering if the rebuild is complete, just take a look at this talented group, their ages and their statistics from last season. The Caps finished the regular season with the 4th best record in the league before loosing in the second round of the playoffs, in a 7 game series, to the eventual Stanley Cup winner. Their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears won their league's championship - the Calder Cup and their ECHL affiliate - the South Carolina Stingrays - won their league's championship - the Kelly Cup. Additionally, if you look at this summer's few pickups by Capital's GM George McPhee, this years team is stronger then last year's and you have talented, young players who have had success at the AHL and ECHL level fighting hard for the few roster spots available "on the big club."
This will be an interesting camp for the Caps, us fans, and the season should be a great one too. All of which leads us to the next topic...
What about Nylander and Clark?
While to some degree both have some similarities, these are two entirely different stories and may very likely end in two entirely different outcomes. So you need to look at them one at a time. We'll go in order of salary cap hit..
Michael Nylander, Center, age 36. Nylander will be the second highest paid Capital this season with a salary of $5.5M and a cap hit of $4.875M. That's a big number, especially when you consider what's been going on with him and his role on the team since they've transitioned from a puck control team playing the trap under Glen Hanlon to an agressive open style forecheck under Bruce Boudreau. Right now, if he has a good camp and plays well Nylander might realistically expect to get a sweater every second or third game here in DC. He has a no trade clause, and that's not his fault, the Caps gave it to him and it's his right to make sure that under any deal that might get cut this season or next neither he or his familiy suffer. That said right now, from a salary cap management perspective, he is a big challenge for the Capitals. On his side of things, the lack of playing time he has been getting is a big problem for him. He's genuinely a nice guy and I hope things work out for him. However, his future here in DC seems basically non-existant unless, there are a few guys who can't play early this season for some reason AND he changes his game and syle of play somewhat, a daunting task at age 36. To be sure, he isn't making the contribution you'd expect from a guy who is tied for the 59th highest paid hockey player in the NHL (ref No doubt, if the Caps Management can do something to move Nyls that makes sense they will, and if it is something that doesn't hurt him too much, he'll likely take it. That said don't expect the Caps to buy him out this season, the numbers don't make sense - next season might be a different story. However, it's also clear the Caps are looking to make a big move up this year and they won't play Nyls at the expense of wins and the team just to make it possible to move him either.
Chris Clark, Right Wing, age 33. Clark, the team captain has the 8th highest salary cap hit ($2.63M) and 8th highest salary ($2.65M). That salary puts Clark in a tie for 235th in the league this season; that's probably a fair number for a team captain, IF he can regain his form (with a performance closely approximating his 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons) AND stay healthy. Unlike Nylander, a healthy Chris Clark can and does fit into the Capitals "look" and style of play under Bruce Boudreau. It's not hard to see a healthy, gritty Chris Clark playing right wing on a regular third line shift and netting 15+ goals, playing solid two way hockey and being the team leader the Verizon faithful know him to be. If that happens then there's probably not an issue for him and the Caps will be a better team for it. If on the other hand he has another injurey shortened/marred season like the last two, well it's hard to earn your money confined to the press box because of injury even when you're not the team's Captain.
All the above said here's the reality of things - this season the Washington Capitals have $7.5M of salary cap space tied up in Clark and Nylander. Next season, if nothing changes over the next 12 months, they will also have that same $7.5M of salary cap space tied up in them for the 2011-2012 season. It's unlikely that regardless of how either of them play this season, GMGM will want to go into the summer looking to have to resign RFAs Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Boyd Gordon and Eric Fehr, as well as UFA David Steckel with ~13.2% of the teams salary caps space tied up in both Nylander and Clark. So something is likely to be done with at least one, if not both these guys. Regardless of how much, the fans and management like Chris Clark, unless he turns it around thsi season and then even if he does, it's 50/50....
Look at the rest of the other 7 of the top 8 teams in the league and their 5 top paid forwards:
1) San Jose: Thorton, Marleau, Michalek, Clowe and Cheechoo;
2) Boston: Sevard, Bergeron, Ryder, Kreji, and Strum;
3) Detroit: Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Filppula, and Hudler;
5) New Jersey: Elias, Rolston, Zajac, Zubrus, Parise;
6) Chicago: Hossa, Sharp, "Babyface Nelson" Kane, Boland and Versteeg;
7) Vancouver: Daniel and Henrick Sedin, Demitra, Samuelsson, and Brenier;
8) Pittsburgh: Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Kunitz, and Guerin.
In all those cases nobody else has two guys who are not clearly part of their top six forward/top two lines that are two of their top five paid forwards. That would say that something probably has to give on the Caps roster with Clark and Nylander - it's probably Nylander if Clark has a ~20 goal season; it's probably both if he does not. Even teams that have similar salary distributions between Forwards, Defensement and Goaltenders as the Capitals (Pittsburgh, San Jose, Vancouver (sortof since they have six defensement making between $2 and $4M), and Boston; all have at least 4 of their top five paid forwards on their top two lines.
So what's the point of this ramble - the battle for every spot on lines 3 and 4 and the final 2 defensemen will be a battle amongst a large group of talented young players in the Caps system - ALL SEASON LONG. Among other things. that means both Clark and Nylander who haven't really been earning their full salaries relative to the rest of the team will need to turn things around to even get ice time. Me - I'm not betting against Chris Clark and I wouldn't risk too much coin betting on Michael Nylander at this point.
Should be a great season -

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