Mike Halford

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin (8), from Russia, celebrates his first goal in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

It’s Washington Capitals day at PHT


The Caps were the class of the league during the regular season, finishing atop the standings with 56 wins and 120 points.

Yet in the playoffs, they met a familiar fate.

In what’s become a repeat trend throughout the Alex Ovechkin era, Washington failed to advance to the Eastern Conference final, bowing out to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Penguins in Round 2.

The end result was disappointing, no doubt.

But it’s hard to look at the ’15-16 campaign and not pull some positives.

Year two of the Barry Trotz era — which ended with Trotz winning the Jack Adams as coach of the year — saw eight different capitals score 17 goals or more. Ovechkin hit 50 for the third consecutive season, while newcomers T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams netted 26 and 22 respectively.

Evengy Kuznetsov had a breakthrough campaign, leading the team with a career-high 77 points, and Braden Holtby was terrific all season, capturing his first Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder.

The club’s special teams were also a force to be reckoned with, finishing with the fifth-best power play and second-best penalty kill.

Which explains why GM Brian MacLellan was relatively quiet this summer.

MacLellan’s biggest move came at the draft, when he appeared to fix the club’s third-line center issue by acquiring Lars Eller from Montreal. Though Eller did face criticisms during his time as a Canadien, he is coming off a 13-goal, 26-point campaign and should be an upgrade over last year’s bottom-six centers, Jay Beagle and Mike Richards.

The Caps then added some decent depth up front by signing Brett Connolly and Brad Malone in free agency, and MacLellan took care of business with RFA forward Marcus Johansson with a three-year, $13.75 million extension.

The end result?

Next year’s Caps will look an awful lot like this year’s Caps.

The most notable departure is Jason Chimera, the veteran speedester who racked up an impressive 20 goals and 40 points last year.

Outside of that, though, it’s largely the same group returning — no big surprise, given MacLellan said the current group had “a two-year window” to try and win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Coyotes ‘have some work to do’ in re-signing Rieder

New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes

While it might seem premature (or maybe hyperbolic)  to call it a saga, what the heck — the Tobias Rieder saga in Arizona sounds like it’s hit a stalemate.

Rieder, coming off a career year with personal bests in goals (14) and assists (23), doesn’t appear to have closed the negotiating gap on a new contract, according to the Arizona Republic.


“We have some work to do on him,” [Coyotes GM John] Chayka said.

There’s still more than a month to go before the team will gather for training camp, but the two sides don’t appear close to a resolution with Rieder’s camp considering the Kontinental Hockey League as an option.

“It’s just status quo,” said Darren Ferris, Rieder’s agent. “There’s been no discussions at this point that have made any meaningful change in anyone’s position.”

According to an Arizona Sports report, Rieder is seeking a two-year, $5.5 million deal, one that carries a $2.75M average annual cap hit. That would be a sizeable raise from the $925,000 he made on his now expired entry-level deal.

Per that same report, the Coyotes are offering “somewhere between $2 million and $2.3 million per year on a two-year deal.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Having only turned 23 in January, Rieder would seem to have reasonably good value. He’s a very quick skater that can play up and down the lineup, and didn’t just avoid a sophomore slump last season after appearing in 72 games as a rookie — he thrived.

Looking ahead, the next date of significance

One would think the next big date for both sides is Sept. 4, when Team Europe opens training camp for the World Cup. Rieder, who was born in Germany and played there prior to joining OHL Kitchener, was named to the European squad in late May.

Rangers add McCambridge to AHL staff

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: The New York Rangers logo is seen before the start of Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 16, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Didn’t take long for Keith McCambridge to find work again — on Wednesday, the Rangers announced McCambridge has been hired as an assistant coach on Ken Grenander’s staff in AHL Hartford.

McCambridge, 42, was dismissed by Winnipeg in April after five years as the head coach of its AHL affiliate (in Manitoba and St. John’s).

McCambridge had worked closely with a number of Winnipeg’s prized young prospects this past season — Connor Hellebuyck, Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan, Brendan Lemieux and J.C. Lipon all spent time in Manitoba, with several getting a look at the NHL level — and helped IceCaps advance to the Calder Cup Final two years ago.

Of course, the club has fallen on hard times lately. It failed to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons, and won just 26 games this year.

McCambridge’s connection in New York comes courtesy Rangers assistant Scott Arniel. The two worked together in 2009-10 in AHL Manitoba, where they coached one of New York’s recent signings — speedy forward Michael Grabner.

Report: Unsigned RFAs will be insured for World Cup

CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 7: Johnny Gaudreau #13 (L) of the Calgary Flames confers with his teammate Sean Monahan #23 during a break in play against the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 7, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Nikita Kucherov and Jacob Trouba all have a couple things in common.

One, they’re restricted free agents still without contracts for next season.

Two, they’re all slated to participate in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

To that latter point, TSN’s Gary Lawless has the scoop:

Gaudreau, Monahan and Trouba are slated to participate with Team North America, while Kucherov has been named to the Russian squad.

Here’s the latest on each contract situation…

Jets aren’t trying to trade Trouba, says Chevy

Flames say ‘no real update’ on talks with Gaudreau, Monahan

Yzerman ‘confident’ he can sign Kucherov

Shea Weber hasn’t been to Montreal yet, and his agent says there’s nothing strange about that

Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber celebrates after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

It’s been 35 days since the Montreal Canadiens acquired Shea Weber from Nashville in exchange for P.K. Subban.

And Weber still hasn’t been to Montreal.

Subban, as you may have heard, has certainly been to Nashville. He even took to the stage at Tootsie’s to sing some Johnny Cash.

Sooooo… what’s up with Weber?

According to his agent, nothing.

From the Montreal Gazette:

Weber’s agent insists there’s nothing strange about Weber not coming to Montreal yet. Jarrett Bousquet says it’s simply a case of scheduling and the fact Weber spends the summer in Kelowna, B.C. 

“His initial reaction (to the trade) was there was a pause and a little bit of shock,” Bousquet said during a phone interview Monday. “And then when he realized it was true, he was pretty excited. 

“Obviously, now he’s extremely excited being back in Canada and the pieces that they’ve put together. And he knows Carey Price from B.C. and the Olympics and whatnot, so I know he’s very excited now.”

Bousquet went on to add Weber is expected in Montreal later this month. The Gazette later reported Weber will be in attendance for head coach Michel Therrien’s golf tournament on Aug. 9.

The subtext to all of this, of course, is how Weber — described as a “very private person” — will react to inevitable throngs of Montreal reporters.

Remember, the 30-year-old has spent all 11 of his NHL seasons in Nashville, a market not exactly known for intense media scrutiny.