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Salary Capitals: Washington goes over the ceiling with Troy Brouwer’s deal


The Washington Capitals seem like one of the big “winners” of the 2011 off-season. Tomas Vokoun’s budgetary loss was their gain. They turned an uncomfortable situation with Semyon Varlamov into two high-end draft picks. Maybe GM George McPhee paid a little too much for certain players, but there’s the feeling he added a lot of useful pieces to the puzzle.

That last part might be the sticking point, though. It seems like the Capitals keep over-paying for one player in particular: Troy Brouwer. McPhee raised some eyebrows when he traded Washington’s first round pick (26 overall) in 2011 for Brouwer, although it must be noted that it was clear the franchise didn’t see much in this year’s draft. That would have been fine, but the team also gave Brouwer a massive raise today, signing him to a two-year deal worth a whopping $4.7 million.

On paper, Brouwer seems like a very nice fit for Washington. The rugged forward often skated on the Chicago Blackhawks’ top line, opening up space for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane while scoring 36 points in 2010-11 and 40 in 2009-10. Of course, he did that at the bargain price of $1.025 million per year; now he’ll get a ransom of $2.35 million per season.

Maybe that’s actually a reasonable deal in this crazy spending climate, but he might not be the right move for Washington. The Capitals’ current cap commitments are now at about $66 million, putting them about $2 million above the $64 million ceiling (according to NHL Numbers). Washington doesn’t need to panic about getting back under yet, but they should at least be concerned, especially since prized restricted free agent Karl Alzner could be headed toward salary arbitration.

It looks like McPhee and the Capitals might walk a salary cap tight rope this summer. If there’s two new contracts that look the most of out order, they might be Brouwer’s deal and Brooks Laich’s $4.5 million per year contract extension. There have been some murmurs about Tom Poti’s $2.875 million cap hit being removed in some way (retirement, trade or submerged in the minors?), but it’s likely that the Caps would need to move another contract if they want to retain Alzner as well. Moving some combination of Eric Fehr ($2.2 million), Jason Chimera ($1.875 million) and John Erskine ($1.5 million) might end up being the antidote for Washington as well.

Either way, the Caps are going for broke in 2011-12. Who knows if it will actually work, but it’s already making an interesting NHL off-season that much more intriguing.

Goalie nods: Prized Jets prospect Hellebuyck makes NHL debut

Joshua Morrissey, Jason Pominville, Connor Hellebuyck
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The future of Winnipeg’s goaltending will be on display tonight in Minnesota.

Connor Hellebuyck, the highly-touted prospect that starred for Team USA at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, will make his NHL debut today when the Jets take on the Wild at Xcel.

Hellebuyck is up with the Jets following an injury to No. 1 (or, “No. 1”) netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who’s out until January with a lower-body injury. An AHL All-Star a year ago, Hellebuyck arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the hype and pressure that come along with his first-ever big league start.

For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk‘s in goal.


Corey Crawford goes for Chicago in Anaheim. No word yet on who the Ducks will have in goal.

Braden Holtby starts again for Washington, as the Caps host the Bolts. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter, much like the Ducks.

Marc-Andre Fleury takes on Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus tonight, as the Blue Jackets host the Penguins.

Mike Condon is back in the starter’s role for Montreal with Carey Price sidelined, and his first order of business is a road date against Cory Schneider and the Devils in New Jersey.

Cam Ward faces Chad Johnson as Buffalo welcomes the ‘Canes.

— The Isles will start Jaroslav Halak in Florida. The Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo.

Cam Talbot finally gets back into the starter’s role tonight in Detroit. Jimmy Howard will go for the Wings.

— It’s Ryan Miller versus Antti Niemi as the Canucks take on the Stars in Dallas.

— Even though Jonas Hiller is healthy and Joni Ortio‘s in the minors, Calgary will stick with Karri Ramo in Arizona. The Coyotes are going with their No. 1, Mike Smith.

‘We’re still right in the hunt for everything’ — Parise will play tonight versus Jets

Zach Parise
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For the first time since Nov. 5, Zach Parise will suit up for the Minnesota Wild.

The team confirmed today that Parise will be in the lineup tonight at home versus Winnipeg. The 31-year-old forward has missed the last eight contests with a sprained MCL.

The Wild were 7-2-2 before Parise got hurt. They lost the game against Nashville in which he suffered the injury, then went 4-3-1 without him.

“I’m just hoping to get back to form as quick as possible and go from there,” Parise told the Star Tribune. “I’m not thinking I need to score right out of the gate, I just want to play. … We’re still right in the hunt for everything. We’ll be fine.”

After ’embarrassing’ loss to Sens, Stars motivated for Canucks

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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The Vancouver Canucks will face a pretty motivated Dallas Stars team tonight at American Airlines Center.

Blame the Ottawa Senators. They were the ones who smoked the Stars, 7-4, on Tuesday.

“It brings you back down to earth,” captain Jamie Benn told the Stars’ website. “You learn that any team can come in here and whip your butt. It was embarrassing for us, especially in our home rink and in front of our home fans. We don’t want that to happen again.”

The Stars have had their way with the Canucks in recent years. The last time Vancouver won in Dallas was Feb. 21, 2013. Since then, victories have included scorelines like 5-1, 4-1, 6-1, and 6-3.

The Stars have already hosted the Canucks once in Dallas this season. On Oct. 29, they fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to win, 4-3, in overtime.

Dallas (17-5-0) has yet to lose consecutive games this season.

Video: Beleskey rocks Stepan, fights McIlrath (Update: Stepan won’t return)


Well, Matt Beleskey sure made his presence felt in the Thanksgiving Showdown.

With the Rangers leading the Bruins 2-1 midway through the second period, Beleskey delivered a huge hit on Rangers forward Derek Stepan, then had to answer the bell as he was immediately confronted by towering Blueshirts d-man Dylan McIlrath.

Needless to say, it had a pretty profound effect on the game.

McIlrath got the instigator penalty for the fight, which sent the B’s to the power play. Not long after, Brett Connolly scored his fifth of the year to even the score at 2-2.

Then, later in the period, Stepan was spotted going down the Rangers’ tunnel.

We’ll keep tabs on Stepan’s condition moving forward, and if the comes out for the third period.

There’s a pretty good chance New York bench boss Alain Vigneault will be asked for his thoughts on the hit, too, so stay tuned.

Update: The Rangers have ruled out Stepan for the remainder of the contest.