Washington Capitals Introduce General Manager Brian MacLellan And Coach Barry Trotz

Washington Capitals were free agency’s biggest spenders


Now that free agency has, for the most part, settled down it’s time to step back and see who did the most damage.

No, we don’t mean who improved themselves the most — we’re talking about raw dollars spent. This year’s winner? The Washington Capitals.

Sure there are more players left to be signed, but the big crush is over. Considering no one has been officially signed since July 4, we’ll say it’s pretty much done for now.

As Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post shared and CapGeek.com tabulated, the Capitals spent the most money on new contracts this summer spending $69.65 million on 14 years worth of deals to Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, and Justin Peters.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were next on the list with $64.85 million spent over 15 years worth of contracts. Adding Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, and Evgeni Nabokov didn’t really make the numbers pop but re-signing Ryan Callahan to a six-year, $34.8 million deal sure did.

Rounding out the top three are the Florida Panthers were the next biggest spenders with $60.4 million spent on 18 years worth of deals to Willie Mitchell, Jussi Jokinen, Dave Bolland, Derek MacKenzie, Shawn Thornton, and Al Montoya. While the Panthers broke the bank on Bolland, their total shows every little bit adds up.

The spending of the former Southeast Division foes helped keep the New York Islanders ($57.95 million) and Buffalo Sabres ($46.375 million) out of the top three of the list, but did go to show that making sure to get above the salary floor takes a bit of work.

The Isles added $15.587 million to their cap total for next season while the Sabres added $14.875 million. Those two are distant runners-up to the New Jersey Devils ($18.262 million) and Florida ($17.3 million) to boosting their cap number.

It’s like what Sabres GM Tim Murray has been saying whenever he was asked about whether his team will hit the cap floor or not: “Spending money is easy.” As for the cap floor, only the Calgary Flames have yet to reach the $51 million mark according to Cap Geek and they’re under that by just $563,333.

Here’s hoping 3-on-3 doesn’t degenerate into a boring ‘game of keep-away’

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Are coaches going to ruin 3-on-3 overtime?

It’s been the one, big worry since the NHL decided to change from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 as a way to reduce the number of shootouts.

Via TSN’s Bob McKenzie, here’s a quote from an anonymous coach (talking about 3-on-3 strategy) that won’t exactly quell that worry:

“Really, it’s a game of keep-away, that’s what it is and the longer you can keep it away from the other team, the more likely they’ll break down. So I say let’s slow it down and hold onto that puck for as long as we can.”

Now take that a step further and imagine there’s a team that’s really good at shootouts. If you were coaching that team, might you tell your players to rag the puck for as long as possible to try and get to the skills competition?

Granted, five minutes is a long time to rag the puck. Not sure any team could play “keep-away” that long. Plus, there will always be teams that aren’t very good at the shootout; theoretically, those teams should be more willing to take their chances in 3-on-3.

But just remember that more time and space doesn’t always lead to more goals. Look at international hockey, which is played on a bigger ice surface. Canada won gold in Sochi by beating Latvia, 2-1, the United States, 1-0, and Sweden, 3-0. It was hardly firewagon hockey.

While nobody’s quite ready to suggest that 3-on-3 will actually lead to more shootouts, it will be interesting to see how things evolve, and if there are any unintended consequences.

“I don’t know if anyone’s figured it out completely yet,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said Saturday after losing in 3-on-3 overtime to Vancouver.

“The big thing is, you want to control the puck as much as you can. It’s 3-on-3, so there’s lots of room and space out there. You don’t need to give it away. I think it’s smart to just wait, take your time, and wait for a good opportunity.”

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead


Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.