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


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.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins at Rangers

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 27:  Ryan Spooner #51 of the Boston Bruins scores a goal against Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers during the third period at TD Garden on November 27, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Rangers 4-3.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Original Six rivals face off at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night when the New York Rangers host the Boston Bruins.

The Rangers come into the game having won two in a row and three out of their past four, while the Bruins were blown out just 24 hours earlier at home against the Minnesota Wild.

Making matters worse for the Bruins is the fact they are also dealing with some major injury issues  having lost their top two goalies (Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin) to injury. That means they will be giving rookie Zane McIntyre his first NHL start after Malcolm Subban was benched on Tuesday.

The Bruins will also be without veteran forward David Backes.

You can catch tonight’s game (8 p.m. ET) on NBCSN or with our NHL Extra live stream.


More links to get you ready for tonight’s game

Bruins need a rookie goalie to step up

Backes undergoes elbow procedure

Rakell back skating in Anaheim, but no timetable for return

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21: Rickard Rakell #67 of the Anaheim Ducks skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 21, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Ducks 5-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The contract’s signed, the visa issues are sorted and he’s already taken a morning skate.

Now, all Rickard Rakell needs to do is get clearance.

Rakell, who 12 days ago signed a six-year, $22.8 million extension, was back on the ice this morning ahead of Anaheim’s game against the visiting Nashville Predators this evening.

The 23-year-old’s return was hung up by a variety of issues. First, there was the obvious one — he had no contract — and once that was signed, Rakell was in limbo awaiting his visa.

And he’s still not in the clear.

Rakell is dealing with the ramifications from offseason abdominal surgery — a procedure related to an earlier appendectomy, that kept him out of the World Cup of Hockey — and is unclear as to when he can make his season debut.

“I’m just anxious to get back and at least try,” he said, per NHL.com.

Prior to rejoining the Ducks, Rakell had been working out and skating in his native Sweden, though none of his activity included contact. That will be the next step in his progression.

Following a lengthy road trip to start the year, the Ducks are now locked into the state of California for quite some time. Tonight’s home tilt is followed by another Friday against the Jackets, followed by a “road” game in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

From there, the team plays three more times at Honda: Nov. 2 against the Penguins, Nov. 4 against the Coyotes, and No. 6 against the Flames.

So, there’s a pretty good chance Rakell’s debut will come at home.

Another twist to the Seattle arena saga

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Just one day after news broke that investor Chris Hansen was willing to forego public financing to build a downtown arena that could potentially house an NHL and/or NBA team, there’s been another twist in the long-running Seattle saga.

The latest from King 5 News:

If Chris Hansen passed the ball back to the city Tuesday, Mayor Ed Murray isn’t ready to execute a slam dunk.

In other words, Murray has other ideas for a new sports arena in Seattle, and it involves Key Arena.

The mayor’s budget director, Ben Noble, told KING 5 that the mayor’s office is quietly exploring a major renovation of Key Arena at Seattle Center. The facility was home to the NBA’s SuperSonics until 2008 when efforts to renovate and expand its size fell through, prompting the team’s sale and move to Oklahoma City.

It’s definitely worth noting that AEG, the same company that owns the Los Angeles Kings, is the facilities manager for Key Arena. It was reported last year that billionaire Victor Coleman had been in touch with AEG, and that his group was willing to explore the Key Arena option for an NHL team.

Coleman, of course, has also worked as Hansen’s NHL partner, though their agreement to work together was reportedly “non-binding.”

At the moment, it’s not clear which option — Hansen’s project or Key Arena — Coleman would prefer to pursue, or even if he’s still involved at all.

But for Seattle hockey fans, the good news is that there’s, well, news.

And there may be more news soon.

Here’s a radio interview with King 5 reporter Chris Daniels, who’s been all over this story:

Related: Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle

Letang had a ‘good day’ at practice, Penguins hoping he can return soon

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 09: Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Joonas Donskoi #27 of the San Jose Sharks battle for the puck during the third period in Game Five of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on June 9, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Yesterday, they got Sidney Crosby back.

Soon, the Pittsburgh Penguins should have another key player back in the lineup. Kris Letang, their top defenseman, participated in full-contact practice today, taking the same step Crosby took two days ago.

“He had a good day on the ice today, we’ll see where it goes from there,” head coach Mike Sullivan said of Letang, who’s missed three games with an upper-body injury. “We’re encouraged with his progress. We’re hoping to get him back soon.”

The Penguins host the Islanders tomorrow night. Don’t be surprised if Letang plays. He skated with Ian Cole at this morning’s practice.

If Letang isn’t ready to go against the Isles, his next opportunity to return will be Saturday in Philadelphia.