Ted Leonsis, Adam Oates

Leonsis admits he ‘was wrong’ about the Caps having no weaknesses


“Before the Capitals season started, I was quoted as saying I didn’t see any weakness in our lineup. While I knew some aspects of our team were stronger than others, I didn’t see anything that I believed was a specific weakness. Obviously I was wrong.”

That was Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, writing on his blog after his team was eliminated from playoff contention. Washington will miss the postseason for the first time since 2007, and Leonsis is promising to “conduct a comprehensive review of what transpired this year.”

Certainly, the jobs done by general manager George McPhee and head coach Adam Oates will be part of that review. And it doesn’t sound like staying the course is an option.

“When we have concluded our evaluation, we will make the necessary adjustments and articulate our reasoning and plan for improvement,” Leonsis wrote.

Player wise, the Caps have some big questions to answer as well. Down the middle, Mikhail Grabovski is a pending unrestricted free agent, while Brooks Laich is a potential compliance buyout. The blue line has been rightly targeted by critics, and the goaltending situation is as uncertain as ever, especially after the recent tension between Jaroslav Halak and Oates.

“I empathize with the frustration – and even anger – of our fans,” wrote Leonsis, “and I promise to work diligently as we analyze the season, evaluate our organization and pursue what we believe to be our best options.”

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

Leave a comment

There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
1 Comment

Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.