Washington Capitals off-season: Jose Theodore out, but Eric Fehr ponders extension

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theogone.jpgFair or not, the lasting image of Jose Theodore’s stay with the Washington Capitals might be the final playoff game he started against the Montreal Canadiens in which he allowed 2 goals on 2 shots. Friendlier Capitals fans will note that the former Hart Trophy winner was excellent – at times – during the 2009-10 season, particularly during the stretch run to the playoffs.

Either way, Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post notes that the chances of Theodore coming back as a Capital are pretty slim. The French-Canadian goalie’s agent, Don Meehan, said that the team hasn’t contacted him about re-signing the unrestricted free agent.

“They haven’t communicated with me at all,” Don Meehan said this morning from his Toronto-area office.

Meehan didn’t want to speculate about the Caps’ plans. But we know this: If there hasn’t been a single discussion of an extension by now, most likely there’s not going to be one.

“Jose can’t control anything as far as his association with Washington,” Meehan added. “It’s a matter of going to free agency on July 1 if Washington chooses not to establish a relationship with him. He’s a veteran, he’s been around a long time, he’s positive.”

As El-Bashir notes, the Capitals could very well rest their goalie hopes on holdover youngster Semyon Varlamov and fellow prospect Michael Neuvirth. The biggest plus is that the two goalies would only make about $1.7 million combined, giving the Capitals the opportunity to model themselves after the goalie-frugal Detroit Red Wings. Of course, the risk is that the team might put too much pressure on two inexperienced goalies.

Is it possible that the team may also consider nabbing a veteran free agent netminder? Perhaps someone along the lines of Marty Turco (whose passing skills could augment an already ridiculous transition game) or Evgeni Nabokov (he certainly wouldn’t feel too out of sorts since the team employs some high-ranking Russians)?

I think it’s a win-win situation for Washington in net; they’ll either go super-cheap with those newbies or be able to make a better use of their cap dollar with a superior veteran option.

While Theodore is out, there is a bit of good news for the most loyal of Caps fans. It appears that the team is in talks with character guy Eric Fehr to extend his contract for a few years, also according to El-Bashir. If there’s one underestimated part about Washington, it’s that they have a nice group of depth guys. Beyond the star power of Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, the team features hustle players including Fehr, Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble. Keeping those blue-collar/grittier guys will help them as they attempt to fight through their playoff struggles.

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.