A couple weeks ago, a report from the Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan said that Anton Volchenkov will get the most interest this off-season from the Washington Capitals. A funny thing happened along the way and thanks to the Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir, we get the temperature taken on the Washington Capitals possible interest on the soon-to-be free agent.
Contrary to a report out of Canada late last month that suggested the Caps are going to target pending unrestricted free agent Anton Volchenkov this summer, two sources have told me that the team does not, in fact, plan to pursue the Ottawa blue liner. The Caps “are not going to make him an offer,” one of the sources familiar with Washington’s plans told me.
So much for that. Would Volchenkov fit in well with the Capitals? Most assuredly, especially with a couple of outstanding fellow Russians on the team in Alexander Ovechkin and Alex Semin. Would he fit into head coach Bruce Boudreau’s system is a better question. There’s no doubt that the Caps could use someone whose sole focus on the blue line is playing defense and blocking shots, but would he blend in with the sort of run-and-gun thing the Capitals have going on? I somehow doubt that.
Then again, you could argue that the Capitals have enough of the puck moving defenseman thing going on with Mike Green and Tom Poti not to mention a lot going on with their youth movement in John Carlson and Karl Alzner who have both been somewhat locked into playing for Hershey in the AHL. It’s probably for the best that I’m not making the choices here because my lack of general managing skills would shine brightly. Good luck George McPhee, you’ll need it.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: