With his 2013 scoring totals hovering around the team lead before Alex Ovechkin really took over, many wondered if the Washington Capitals could keep Mike Ribeiro – and if it would be at the right price. CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley believes that negotiations with Karl Alzner might just determine if the Capitals will bring him back.
It might be tough to properly assess Alzner’s value, however.
The 24-year-old defenseman’s focus has frequently been defense-first (second and last), so determining how much of a raise he deserves from his current $1.285 million cap hit could be a challenge. Gormley lays out the pending restricted free agent’s options; he could opt for a shorter deal with the hopes of cashing in big once he becomes unrestricted or follow fellow young Caps defenseman John Carlson’s lead in sacrificing a bigger payday for more security.
Alzner didn’t sound too stressed about it either way.
“It’ll be fun to see how it all happens,” Alzner said. “You always hope for the best and I’m excited to see how the talks will go, but this summer, I approach every summer the same.”
As with any RFA, there’s at least the mild threat of an offer sheet if negotiations drag on. It’s not something Alzner has really considered much.
“I haven’t really even thought about it, to be honest,” Alzner said. “That would be weird. Like I said, I don’t know anything but [Washington]. It would be strange.”
Contract talks have the tendency to get a little weird here and there, though.
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.
PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.
Now he knows.
“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”
The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.
More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.
It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”
Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.
“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”
Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.
RTV Slovenia has the story here.
The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.
The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.
Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.
Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win
PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.
But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.
The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.
Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.
Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.