Ovie's amazing goal

Ovie's amazing goal

Friday, September 30, 2011

Jason Chimera two-year extension

Yesterday Jason Chimera and the Washington Capitals agreed to a two-year contract extension. The deal keeps Chimera in town till the end of the 2013-14 season and will pay the vet $3.5 million (1.8 next year and 1.7 in 13-14). This is a great decision by George McPhee and company. Mike Knuble doesn't have much gas left in the tank, Brooks Laich is being tossed around between wing and center and there aren't really any aggressive forwards (of theKnuble, Brouwer, and Chimera type) in the minors.While Chimera isn't young, 32 years old, he is 7 years younger than Knuble, which in turn gives the Caps time to find a young kid to fill the void.

Consider this, the Caps signed Joel Ward (a similar player just not as fast) to a 4 years $12 million deal and he is only two years younger than Chimera. Getting Chimera at such a low price is a steal. Considering Chimera, unlike Ward, can play on all four lines. Chimera played well while lining up with Ovechkin and Backstrom last year and gave that line a dimension that Knuble could not, speed. Plus, as all Washington sports fans have learned, you have a much better chance at scoring big by re-signing your own free agents than bringing in a new one (see the Washington Redskins). All in all, thank you George McPhee for re-signing a player that most us fans love to watch and thank you Jason Chimera for putting ink to paper and staying put here in Washington for a few more years.

Capology III

So it took me a little longer than I would have liked but here we got with the panel I listened to at the Caps Convention. Don Fishman was very informative and enlightened me, and many others, on the nuances of the NHL salary cap. One thing that I was unaware of was the growth of the salary cap. In 2005 the minimum number was $21.5 million and the max was only $39 million. Today as it stands the minimum is $48.3 million and the max is $64.3 million. There has been a significant increase in these six years and even more so considering that from the 08-09 season to the 09-10 season the minimum and maximum cap only increased by $.1 million. The Caps need to fit under the $64.3 million max with 23 players. Overall they are allowed to have 50 players under contract (they currently have 48) but this includes junior players and such.

The Caps, and all NHL teams, can draft a player at the age of 18. They generally reach their entry level contract around age 20, after juniors. Of course the likes of Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Sidney Crosby skipped juniors and jumped straight into their entry level deal. All entry level deals are three years in length and are all 2way contracts. A player does not have any restricted rights until after their entry level deal is over (usually around the age of 23). Within these restricted rights, the players are not allowed arbitration. This is a one year deal and then the next year (age 24) the player is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Most players do not become unrestricted free agents until the age of 27-28 years old. Clearly the listed players above buck the trend and would be eligible at the age of 25-26. No extension can be made to the player until after their entry level deal. Ovechkin signed a 13 year contract and Backstrom signed a 10 year deal after their initial entry level deal was up. This then skips through any restricted free agency and arbitration rights.

An example of a current rookie/entry level deal is that of Marcus Johansson. Marcus was given a three year deal for 900K. The Capitals do not include any performance bonuses in their rookie deals. They do this in order to always know the cap number. They instead increase the players overall salary and use that as the compensation for those bonuses. If Marcus was to play juniors, the caps could still have him under contract but the contract can slide two years until he comes to Hershey or Washington that was when he arrives he keeps his entry level deal length. Marcus can not become an unrestricted free agent until after the 2018-2019 season.

A player like Mathieu Perreault is still in an entry level deal, but because of his tenure in the league he still has a two year contract but has to pass through waiver in order to play in Hershey. Don gave an example of player salary between Hershey and the NHL. If Perreault is with the Capitals he will make the 82 game avg of $810K. If he is dropped down to Hershey he will only make the avg of $67,500. As we were informed, Hershey is one of the few teams that pay their players a higher salary due to the profits they earn during their season. Most minor league teams could not afford to pay a Perreault that amount of money. The players are lucky to have the opportunity to play in Hershey and the fact that it is so close to Washington DC, we the fans can attend and help these young players succeed.

This was a good basis for the panel. I don't want to repeat myself with the deals and structures as they are pretty much the same with the other examples of Alzner and Laich. This panel was fun and interesting as far as learning the nuances of the NHL salary cap. As I finish this up, the Caps have re-signed winger Jason Chimera to a two-year extension worth $3.5million...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I stand Corrected!

As a great tweet from @Jenstatz8 (an avid caps fan) here is a link to pre order the Caps 24/7 DVD.
It was to my knowledge it still wasn't available but as I said I stand corrected. I wish they would have said that at the convention yesterday! But thank you Jen!

Capitals Convention

Unfortuantely I have a good 90 plus minute drive to DC so i was a tad late to the convention. I arrived around 1015-1030 and liked what I initially saw. I wasn't able to go last year (attended a wedding) but went to the first convention and I did notice some differences. There were only two downsides that I saw to yesterday, one was the alumni were done signing and all but gone before noon, the first convention they were signing most of the day to my recollection. Secondly, aside from Ovechkin and Holtby playing hockey with the kids, I saw zero player interaction with fans. Troy Brouwer slapped a high five to a fan or two waiting in line for the next autograph session but that was about it. Someone approached Joel Ward and he said he wasn't allowed to sign. I understand we purchase the tickets and are to get two autographs, I am not complaining about that. Just suggesting maybe something like have Ovie or Semin play vs some fans at random with the accuracy game or Carlson and Green at the fastest shot. Just something small, hopefully this trickles back to someone about it.

I did enjoy the one panel that  I watched, Capology III. Don Fishman was very insightful and answered all questions thoroughly. It really put in to perspective the hockey cap system and how the caps are able to sign the likes of Ward, Brouwer, Hamrlik and Vokoun and extend Alzner and still have money for Semin, Backstrom and Ovechkin's big contracts. I won't get to deep into it as I took notes and will write another blog on Capology later in the day.

I will say, I can see why George McPhee went out and traded a first round pick for Troy Brouwer. He is a big guy, looks (as Chimera does) like someone you don't want to deal with. Joel Ward is another guy, he just looks like an intimidating force sitting up at the table next to Ovechkin during autographs. Granted the preseason games haven't been on TV at all and I haven't been able to watch, I will say they fit the profile the Caps have been missing.

Hearing the interview of the 24/7 crew was quite enjoyable. The looks on Ovechkin and Boudreau's faces during the scenes were priceless. I especially liked when Bruce stated that he had no friends in the Penguins organization. It was also interesting to hear how the players and coaches reacted to the cameras in their face for that month. Now can I ask, why in the hell are they not making this into a DVD? I am sure it would be a best seller, especially since there is no other 24/7 like the hockey one. PLEASE HBO MAKE THIS A DVD!!!!!

The Capitals convention was great, some slow moments but overall its nothing like any other team in the DC area does. The fans get to see their favorite players and coaches and it gets you ready for hockey season. We are 13 days away from the opening game at home vs Carolina and I believe the Caps fans finally have that itch of we are almost there and ready to rock the red.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sorry its been so long

I had some internet issues and then switched internet providers so I have been away. Sorry for the lack of blogging.

The only thing I have to say in the post is my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families, friends, and players in the KHL after the devestating crash of the team plane of Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. Being a Caps fan, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom I am sorry that you have lost friends, I feel for you. I have lost friends as well and it is horrible, especially to this magnitude.

I will be getting back up to speed here soon, stay tuned!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Neuvy wants to be #1

So Michal Neuvirth want's to be the number one goalie, really no surprise. As many football fans know in the area, Rex Grossman came out and said the Redskins would be 10-6 and win the East. What else would you expect a player to say? I do give him credit. Confidence, as a goalie, is the most important attribute one can have, a prime example is Braden Holtby. No he wont' be mentioned in the article after this, but let's remember his first few games to his last few games. He was unsure of himself early on and as he gained experience his confidence was through the rough and there he was playing hacky sack with the puck. I digress, Neuvy should go in saying he wants to be number one and why not? He was the main man most of last season, advanced us in a playoff series in less than 7 games for the first time in the Ovechkin/Boudreau era and he's only 23 years old. The last time we had this confident a goalie at this young an age was Olie Kolzig and I think we all remember how he turned out. While Tarik El-Bashir wrote a nice article in the Capitals Insider on the Washington Post's website, only one sentence stood out. "But the stern look on his face suggested that it wasn't just lip service," that there shows us that whatever Neuvy may say his demeanor suggests otherwise.

Dare we ask, where is Tomas Vokoun three weeks before training camp? I can tell you exactly where Neuvy is, he is on ice with Carlson, Hendricks and a few Capitals younger players working on their games. No offense to Vokoun but he is not Ovechkin, or a Tim Thomas for a goalie comparison. He is on a new team and has a lot to prove as a goalie. He has to earn the respect of his new teammates. Name the last playoff series that Vokoun won, and I say that without you pulling up the internet to check. I can tell you when the last 9 Playoff series were won by Neuvy. Albeit that 8 were in Hershey but that was all in the last three years with 2 Calder Cups in hand. The only thing that I saw different with Neuvy from Hershey (which I saw him play in the finals in person) to Washington was the direct confidence and ability to take a game over. I saw Neuvy play in the 2010 Calder Cup playoffs in person and he won that series vs Dallas. In the 2009 campaign, the Hershey Bears were the top scoring team in the league by a long shot and Neuvy just had to be average. He had the time to learn and become dominant. So lets take it as a learning curve, the 2011-2012 season should be a "breakout" year for Neuvy. Does he have competition? Yes he does. Is he going to cower in the corner and cry about it? Clearly he's not.

The fact that he is playing with his childhood idol should help him step up his game. If Neuvy is as smart as he seems, he will be a sponge and steal the advantage over Vokoun. There are 82 games in a season, when was the last time we had one goalie play 60-70 games without being injured?  The answer is Olie Kolzig pre lockout. So Neuvy will receive his chance, he just has to put into use the things he learns from Vokoun and Kolzig (asst goalie coach). Let's remember, Vokoun has a one year deal so the Caps know Neuvy is ready. Maybe they are just helping him along a bit and trying to have options come playoff time. If you ask me, Boudreau only named Vokoun the number one to push Neuvy to do better, prepare more and to be ready when his name is called, that atleast is what I hope was done. Neuvy can be the #1 if he strives for it, he's shown he can be before, in Hershey, and he will soon do so in DC.

On another note, thank you for replying to my poll. Tomas Vokoun was the winning vote getter. If you enjoy reading my blog, please subscribe to it, its free to sign up on blogspot, it just shows me that you enjoy the blog and will help me to keep this going. Please tell all your friends, retweet on twitter, post on facebook. I appreciate it all, thank you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Who really needs to improve this season for the Caps to advance?

First let me say, I was going to write about what Matt Bradley said about Alexander Semin but I don't wanna get into the he said she said stuff. Instead, I found an interesting article (either on ESPN or NHL .com, and of course I can't find it) just last week that stated which player on each team in the league has to improve for his team to have a better season. Of course for the Capitals, Alexander Ovechkin was named. I have a few issues with that. Unless you have closely followed Ovechkin since Boudreau took over, then you wouldn't really have a clue in if Ovechkin had a good or bad season last year.

Let's start with the obvious, first we all know point production was down. Ovechkin scored his lowest goal total ever by 14 goals. His point total the lowest by only 7 points. First thing to argue there is that Ovechkin has begun to set teammates up and pass the puck more rather than force shots. While it wasn't his career high in assists, it was only 6 off the pace. His plus/minus was almost half of what it was the year before, but that has to do with the Caps new defense first system. One positive is that his penalty minutes went down from 89 to 41, which is his lowest as a Cap. Power play goals have decreased since scoring 65 goals (22 on PP) in the 07-08 season, but he is still among the league leaders in game winning goals each year (that has not changed). One stat that should be looked at is Ovechkin's total shots. In 72 games in the 09-10 season he had 368 shots. In 79 games in the 10-11 season he had 367 shots. Less shots will produce less goals and production every year. Let's remember that Boudreau did put him on the ice less for during the PP and with Ovechkin buying into the new defensive system, he would give up opportunities to keep the puck deep in the opponents zone (thus losing goal opportunities) to get the fresh legs on the ice. In the last 25 games of the 10-11 season Ovechkin scored 13 goals and had 19 assists, a total of 32 points. Span that out during 82 games (these numbers are after Ovechkin and the team became comfortable playing in a defensive first scheme) and he would end up with roughly 40 goals and 62 assists for a 102 point season. Granted thats not his 50 goal norm but thats 62 assists (and a career high). Those numbers alone put him 2 points behind Daniel Sedin for the points lead, 6th place in goals and 4th place in assists. Let us not forget he finished 7th in points in the NHL. I personally don't place the need for Ovechkin to have a masterful season as the must have for the Caps to advance in the playoffs. Let's however take a look at a few other players who need to up their production in order for the Caps to improve...

Nicklas Backstrom:
Backstrom had a tough year. He had his lowest point total of his career and dropped 36 points from the 09-10's pace. With Ovechkin's numbers down that did hurt Backie's stats but he also seemed to have lost something. The hand injury towards the end of the season didn't help and once he returned from it he was still not the same player. Could it possibly be that he wasn't 100% but was not going to miss the playoffs? That can be debated. Backstrom is usually a point per game playoff producer and last year only had a bare 2 assists in 9 games. The sudden downfall of the Capitals power play also did not help, as Backstrom had far less points during his special teams shift. Continued improvement on the faceoff will also help the Caps. Backie has gotten better every year and if he can get a few more back to Ovechkin and Semin right off the face off, the Caps can strike quickly on the PP. Backstrom has to regain the form in his 2nd and 3rd season in order for the Caps to remain successful, regain the swagger of the power play and for Ovechkin to get back on track with his type of numbers and play. 

Brooks Laich:
Firstly, Brook's has to make sure that the big money deal stays in the bank account and at his home and not affect his work on the ice. I am not accusing or speculating that Brook's cant or wont do this, but we have seen our fair share of instances in Washington DC with the new bigger contracts. Brook's needs to bounce back from a down season also. He is a top 6 forward, should be on the top line in my personal opinion, and has to take that next step. While he only dropped 11 points from 09-10 to 10-11, his goals dropped by 9 and his power play goals dropped by 8. With all of Boudreau's line shuffling, I sometimes felt as though Brook's was hurt in that manor. There were some games where it seemed he had to be more of a defensive grinder and others where he had to somehow muster a goal or two with very little line support. Brook's plays great on the PP, when given the opportunity to stand in front of the net, and on the penalty kill. Playing on the PK will of course tire him out a bit some games and force his numbers to decline, but with the additions made in the offseason we should see less Laich on the PK and more on the PP and top two lines. Brooks Laich is a prime candidate of a player who must improve in order for the Caps to advance.

Mike Green:
Yes, he was hurt, but when healthy he had by far his worst season since he's matured into a scoring threat. Sure Green was trying, and faired quite well, to become more of a defensive defenseman. The downside is, Mike Green is paid to score goals, create offense and drive the puck from one end to the next and create scoring opportunities. Having him play more defense is great, especially come playoff time, but there were times where I looked at the game and said wow, what happened to Green. Let me say though, Mike Green (statistically) had his best playoff season to date. Until his injury, so mostly just the Rangers series, he was relevant. That is a plus, but during the regular season, though he only played in 49 games, he had just a plus 6 rating. Far off his recent totals of plus 39 (09-10) and plus 24 (08-09). While making the transformation to a more defensive player, we didn't see the coast to coast puck handling that Green brought to the table in recent years. When Green does this, he does end up out of positions, out of breath and sometimes turns the puck over but when the Caps are at their most potent on offense, Green is making plays on offense. He must improve on his 8 goal 16 assist performance. His penalties also need to decline. Just this past season, he averaged just under a 2 min penalty ever two games. His penalties went up but that would most likely have to do with the new defensive scheme. Keeping Green off the ice however hurts the teams potential for quick strikes and scoring opportunities. Look for Mike Green to have a good year both offensively and defensively.

To me these are the three main players that must have an improved season in order for the Capitals to be successful and advance in the playoffs. Of course we have to see steady improvement from Neuvirth, Carlson, Alzner, and Johansson, but that just goes from being rookies to their second year in the league. You can throw Alexander Semin into the mix but we know with Semin he's gonna score goals, get a few assists and make dumb hooking or tripping penalties. I don't know that an improvement from Semin is necessary for the Caps to improve. Maybe Semin staying healthy but you can't keep an injury from happening. As for now, my opinion stands that between Backstrom, Laich, and Green one or all of them must have a more improved season over last in order for the Capitals to advance deep in the playoffs.