Adam Oates

PHT’s Pressing Questions: Can Oates strike the right balance in Washington?

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Every day until the season starts we’ll explore an intriguing storyline for the upcoming year.

The Washington Capitals have experienced something of an identity issue.

It’s not fair to call it a crisis — they’ve made the playoffs five straight years, after all — but maybe “conflict” is the right term.

Under Bruce Boudreau, offense reigned supreme until a series of postseason failures. After those, he vowed to make the team more defensively responsible while maintaining its offensive prowess.

Under Dale Hunter, it was all defense all the time. Guys often blocked more shots than they took.

Now it’s up to new head coach Adam Oates to (re?) establish what the Capitals are. Will they get back to Boudreau’s firewagon style, or stick to Hunter’s system?

The answer is “a little of both,” with a lot of teaching and tutorials in between, according to Braden Holtby.

“With Adam, I think everyone learns really quickly that he’s a very good instructor. Some coaches are motivational guys and what-not,” Holtby said. “Adam is very about the details and very technical, and that’s something you really appreciate as a professional because your job is to prepare yourself for games.

“What Adam wants to do is make sure we’re given the instruction to get better.”

Oates is pushing an entirely new strategy — a hybrid system implementing some of Hunter’s defensive techniques and some of Boudreau’s aggressive offensive approach.

In listening to Washington’s players, it seems two things are evident: 1) dump-and-chase hockey is out, and 2) skating, pressure and forcing turnovers is in.

“The system is great,” captain Alex Ovechkin told CBS Washington. “I’m excited. Everybody involved so you can create. It’s not like [dump] and chase like we played [under Hunter]. I’m excited.”

“We’ve scouted and played a lot of teams that play a somewhat similar system – New Jersey, Boston, L.A., Nashville,” added winger Matt Hendricks. “We’re going be a skating team within a very defensive structure. It’s an exciting brand of hockey. We’re going to force teams to turn the puck over.”

‘Skating’ is the buzzword out of Washington these days.

Oates’ emphasis is on pushing tempo and the need for speed, something he explained after icing a new-look top line of Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin — with No. 8 playing on right wing instead of his usual left.

“Ovi’s a very fast guy, put some speed on the other side,” Oates told the Washington Times. “Everybody’s pretty much played with each other and I think right now our top six can go with each other but I like the look of the line so far.”

The big question now? If enthusiasm and buy-in for Oates’ approach will happen fast enough. The Caps are at a disadvantage with the shortened training camp/season, as it gives them less time to figure out what their new head coach wants.

It’s something Oates recognizes.

“It’s a growing period,” he explained. “Hopefully we’re a strong enough team to get through that. I think we are.

“It’s tough in a short season to get through it, but that’s why you have to work to be good everywhere.”

Related

For all the PHT Pressing Questions, click here.

Sens are ‘ecstatic’ to add Burrows

Vancouver Canucks' Alex Burrows celebrates his goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, March 28, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
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The Ottawa Senators made Alex Burrows‘ contract extension official this morning.

The day after acquiring the 35-year-old forward from Vancouver, the Sens announced that Burrows had signed a two-year, $5 million extension with a 10-team no-trade clause.

Ottawa gave up 19-year-old prospect Jonathan Dahlen to get Burrows from the Canucks.

“I think we’ve become a tougher team to play against and with the acquisition of Alex Burrows we’ve become an even tougher team to play against,” said GM Pierre Dorion, per the Ottawa Sun. “We all know how games are at this time of the year and, hopefully, when our team gets in the playoffs, how they’re grinding, difficult games.

“Getting someone of Alex’s character is something we couldn’t turn (away from). Our players have done exactly what we’ve asked of them. They’ve played hard, they’ve played a system and we just felt it was time to add another piece. In Alex Burrows, we’re ecstatic to have that piece.”

After last night’s 5-1 loss in Tampa Bay, the Sens only have a four-point playoff cushion, so there’s still work to be done down the stretch.

Ottawa hosts Colorado Thursday.

Related: Canucks GM says he isn’t done after trading ‘heart and soul’ guy Burrows

‘Hawks sign Rozsival, Tootoo to one-year extensions

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 20: Michal Rozsival #32 of the Chicago Blackhawks passes against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center on December 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Sharks 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Chicago re-upped with a pair of veteran skaters on Tuesday, agreeing to one-year contract extensions with d-man Michal Rozsival and forward Jordin Tootoo.

At first glance, these deals certainly appear to be expansion draft-related. The Sun-Times notes this will allow ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman to protect former first-round pick Ryan Hartman, who’s enjoying a breakout campaign with 15 goals through 57 games.

Rozsival, 38, has been the more active of today’s signees, appearing in 51 contests while notching a pair of points. He’s won a pair of Stanley Cups in Chicago.

Tootoo, 34, was signed last summer and has appeared in 36 games. He’s gone scoreless while racking up 21 PIM.

Rozsival’s current deal pays $600,000, while Tootoo’s is at $750,000. Terms of their extensions weren’t released but it’s fair to suggest the dollar figures will be similar, given Chicago’s pressed right up against the cap ceiling.

UPDATE:

Bowman certainly seems to be getting his house in order ahead of the aforementioned expansion draft. Last week, he inked journeyman goalie Jeff Glass to a two-year deal, another move that appeared to be with Vegas in mind.

Welcome Valtteri Filppula to the trade rumor mill

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 18:  Valtteri Filppula #51 of the Tampa Bay Lightning backhands a shot against Florida Panthers during the overtime period at the Amalie Arena on October 18, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Having already dealt away Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman could be on the verge of moving another veteran out of town:

Valtteri Filppula.

Fippula, 32, is in the fourth of a five-year, $25 million deal with a $5M average annual cap hit. He’s had a nice bounce-back offensive campaign, with 34 points through 59 games — last year, those totals dipped to 31 in 76 — and has been a dependable, defensively responsible center during his time in Tampa Bay.

So, why might he get moved?

Yzerman has plenty of business to attend to this summer. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin are all pending RFAs requiring new deals, and it’s going to be expensive trying to keep all three in the fold.

It’s also worth noting that Victor Hedman‘s monster extension kicks in next year and, per ESPN, Yzerman is still searching to add a top-four defenseman to the mix.

McKenzie notes it’s unclear if Filppula has agreed to waive his NTC. If he does, though, teams would undoubtedly be interested in acquiring an experienced middle man, with tons of playoff experience.

Filppula’s appeared in over 150 career postseason contests, winning a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008.

Isles recall Ho-Sang on emergency basis

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New York made an interesting move on Tuesday, recalling prospect Josh Ho-Sang from AHL Bridgeport on an emergency basis, ahead of Thursday’s game in Dallas.

Ho-Sang, 20, was the club’s first-round pick (28th overall) at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. A gifted offensive talent, Ho-Sang was a polarizing and controversial figure in his draft year, known equally for his skills as he was for his brash, outspoken demeanor.

Controversy followed him to the Isles when, in his first pro training camp, he was sent packing after just one day.

To his credit, Ho-Sang has morphed into a quality AHL scorer and impressed the Isles along the way. He has 10 goals and 36 points in 48 games this year, sitting first on the team in assists and second in scoring.

Because of the timing of this recall — and the fact the Isles were blasted 7-0 in their last game, on Saturday against the Jackets — some have speculated this recall could be tied to a pending trade from GM Garth Snow.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: