Capitals general manager set to commit to young defensemen

k.alzner.jpgWashington Capitals general manager George McPhee recently had some interesting observations for Caps fans to digest regarding the team’s future along the blue line as The Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir found out.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but McPhee pretty much said both John Carlson and Karl Alzner will be full-timers in Washington next season.

“He’s shown us enough,” McPhee said of Alzner, who scored a huge goal in the first period of Monday’s Calder Cup-clinching win and was a rock on the blue line. “He could have been in the NHL last year. But the way our team was playing last year, we didn’t want to tinker with the chemistry too much and we thought he would be better off if we kept him playing. He’s a guy we expect to be in Washington.”

Alzner, while very young still (he turns 23 in September), has been riding the D.C./Hershey express the last two seasons, playing in 21 games for the Caps this past season and 30 in the NHL the year before that. Alzner has been a steadying presence the last two years for Hershey in the AHL being a part of back-to-back Calder Cup winning teams.

“Captain America” John Carlson however got the call late in the season and in the playoffs for the Caps this year and showed that while he’s still young (he’s just 20 years-old), he’s better than a lot of what the Capitals had working for them already. Carlson averaged just over 20 minutes a game against the Canadiens in the playoffs and guys who are viewed as being “too green” (not Mike Green) won’t get that kind of work when the team needs top minutes from top players.

While some folks think that Anton Volchenkov could be on his way to Washington, having two kids like this in the pipeline ready to start in the NHL helps temper such fantasy hockey-like ideas with a welcome dose of reality.

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    Video: Oshie’s sweet dish sets up a nice Backstrom goal for Capitals

    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 07:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals (c) celebrates his goal at 15:45 of the first period against the New York Islanders and is joined by Nicklas Backstrom #19 (l) and T.J. Oshie #77 (r)at the Barclays Center on January 7, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    There’s time for the Pittsburgh Penguins to flip the scrip, but so far on Monday, it looks like the patterns continue to go the Washington Capitals’ way.

    The Caps are aiming for a 10th straight win (and Pittsburgh’s fourth consecutive loss) after taking a 2-0 lead through the first period.

    The strong play of Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie stands as one of the reasons why Washington has been blazing such an impressive path, and they combined for a really nice goal to give their team that added cushion. Both Oshie’s pass and Backstrom’s goal are impressive in the clip above.

    Also, here’s the Andre Burakovsky goal that began the scoring:

    Shane Doan isn’t asking to be traded by Coyotes, but isn’t saying no either

    TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 15:  Shane Doan #19 of the Arizona Coyotes skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Coyotes defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in an overtime shoot-out. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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    Imagine, for a second, Shane Doan wearing another team’s jersey. Apparently it’s not out of the question.

    During the weekend, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Doan would be willing to waive his no-trade clause for the right situation. Despite his 1,500+ games with the Jets/Coyotes, Doan responded mostly in the affirmative to NHL.com, although the rugged forward notes that it would take a “perfect” scenario to make everything work.

    (He said that he hasn’t been asked to waive his no-trade clause … but he might be open to suggestion.)

    “I’d talk about it with my family and make a decision on that if it was to come up but it would have to be so perfect and so right that it’s pretty hard for it to all line up perfectly,” Doan said. “It would have to be exactly perfect and that just doesn’t happen too often in our sport.”

    The 40-year-old interestingly notes that the discussion has come up before, only word hasn’t surfaced in reports. He even said that there were times when he gave his approval, although in most cases, his answer was “No.”

    What is perfect?

    What’s the perfect situation? That’s where things are fuzzier, as Doan explains that picking a “contender” can be a little trickier when you consider where, say, the Penguins and Sharks were around this time last year.

    Doan says family matters, yet he also seems somewhat flexible in that area. After all, it might just be for a few months as a “rental.”

    Measuring his value

    On the other end, of course, you must also wonder who will want him.

    The pluses are easy to see: he’s big, physical and checks off a ton of the “intangibles” boxes. Chances are, a perspective team would weigh his 28 goals from 2015-16 more heavily than his mere 12 points in 42 games this season.

    That said, at his age, and considering his numbers this season, there’s the obvious question regarding how much he has left in the tank.

    Then again, if the price is reasonable – and the Coyotes certainly are looking to sell off expiring contracts – then it could make for an interesting situation.

    If anything happens at all.

    WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins

    WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11:  Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 of the Washington Capitals and Carl Hagelin #62 of the Pittsburgh Penguins fight in the third period at Verizon Center on January 11, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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    Last time, the Washington Capitals were just a little hotter than the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning the game as Alex Ovechkin crossed the 1,000-point threshold.

    A week or so later, the Capitals are still red-hot while the Penguins are waddling through some uncertainty. Pittsburgh aims to end a three-game losing streak while the Caps hope to get their 10th win in a row on Monday night.

    You can check out the action on NBCSN, watch online and also via the NBC Sports App.

    Click here for the livestream.

    Watch Jonathan Drouin’s assist of the year candidate

    NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 29:  Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in action against the New Jersey Devils during their game at the Prudential Center on October 29, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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    Jonathan Drouin‘s been playing some of his best hockey of late, with five points in his last four contests.

    He isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, either.

    This is Drouin’s effort from today’s Lightning-Kings game at Staples, setting up Tyler Johnson to even the score at one late in the first period:

    Not bad. Tanner Pearson may still be looking for his protective undergarment.

    Little has gone right for Tampa Bay lately — or this season, to be honest — but Drouin could be on the verge of changing that. He was terrific in December, with eight goals and 15 points in 13 games, and appears to have carried that form over to the new year. He’s been a point-a-game guy in January, a trend that continued this afternoon.