Caps owner Ted Leonsis: “The wheels fell off for us”

With the Washington Capitals having another playoff failure in the Bruce Boudreau era and most everyone wondering about whether or not he’ll be returning as head coach, it’s time for everyone to speak their mind in Washington about the team. Most are now wondering whether or not the Caps can ever get over the hump in the playoffs and make the deep run they’ve seemed destined to make for the last four seasons.

One guy who’s really feeling the stunning playoff sweep today is Caps owner Ted Leonsis. Leonsis being one of the more savvy owners in the league spoke his mind on his blog this morning giving Caps fans the postmortem take they may or may not have wanted to read. In it, he dealt from the heart and he brought a lot of truth.

Their role players outplayed our role players.

Their highest paid players outplayed our highest paid players.

In fact, their role players outplayed our highest paid players.

Their goaltending was better.

Their special teams were better.

They adhered to their coaches’ system better than we adhered to our coaches’ system.

The wheels fell off for us. No doubt about that.

There’s a ton of honesty here and for anyone looking to analyze the tea leaves of what the Caps moves in the off-season will be regarding the team’s management might not have to go any further than that second to last statement. That could be a huge compliment for Lightning coach Guy Boucher or it could be a damning indictment on the job Boudreau has done this year.

As expected the Caps fan base is sounding off to him and he also wants to talk fans off the ledge. That or he’s asking them not to storm his offices asking for the coach’s or players heads.

In times like these people are emotional; angry; and demand change. I understand.

The best course of action for us though is to let a few days pass; be very analytic about what needs to be improved; articulate that plan; and then execute upon it.

Clearly we know we have to improve to build a franchise that is as good as our fan base.

Disappointment is hard to swallow and when you’re an owner, disappointment like this that continues leads to changes being made. We said it this morning in Five Thoughts that changes were coming in one form or another and Leonsis’ words about taking a few days to let some of those feelings pass might just be him saying that to himself so he doesn’t make a rash decision.

In the end though, Leonsis knows things have to change lest he start losing parts of the Caps fan base that is tired of seeing the team come up short in the clutch year after year. After all, when you’ve got fans that committed and continuing to make major financial investments in the team to support them, you want to keep them happy. Leonsis’ sign off says it all.

Thank you for caring so much. I am so very sorry we let you all down.

A message like that rings hollow after a while. It’s up to Leonsis to make it count this summer.

Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

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Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

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Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

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Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

“Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.

Dumoulin agrees to six-year contract with Penguins

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Brian Dumoulin won’t need his arbitration hearing today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.

From the press release:

Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin‘s empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 

Dumoulin is coming off of a contract that paid him just $800,000 in each of the past two seasons.

With Dumoulin signed, Pittsburgh now has five defenseman under contract for at least the next three seasons, the other four being Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, and Matt Hunwick.

The Pens still have one more arbitration case in forward Conor Sheary. His hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Related: Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins