Tag: Braden Holtby


Free agents ‘going for max dollars’ will ‘hinder our ability to compete,’ says Caps GM


Washington GM Brian MacLellan has a busy summer ahead.

Veterans Mike Green, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle, Tim Gleason and Curtis Glencross are all unrestricted come July 1, while young building blocks like Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby are all pending RFAs in need of new deals.

And this is probably why, during Monday’s end-of-year media availability, MacLellan not-so-subtly hinted that some players might need to take haircuts to stay in D.C.

“I think it’s important for players that they realize we’ve had a successful team,” MacLellan said, per the Washington Post. “If they believe we have a good chance moving forward to win a championship, they recognize that going for max dollars — which you could make the choice to do in certain situations — that it would hinder our ability to compete going forward.”

Johansson, Kutznetsov and Holtby will all be re-signed while Gleason and Glencross are likely done. Beagle and Fehr both sound like priorities, with MacLellan saying Beagle will “be an easier one to sign, I hope.”

Which leaves Green and Ward.

MacLellan’s “max dollars” reference is likely to those two, both of whom could generate significant interest on the open market. Green, who turns 30 in October, is no longer the Norris finalist of five years ago but still a quality offensive d-man; his 45 points this year put him 19th among all NHL blueliners and he remains one of the league’s better table-setters on the power play.

Green’s coming off a deal that paid $6.08M annually and, while it might be tough to get that much this time around, he’s still in the running for a nice payday. On a UFA d-man market that projects to be thin, Green — who’s also a coveted right-hand shot — could make a lot of cash, though he’s on record saying “it’s not about the money,” adding he’d like to remain a Capital “until the day I die or retire.”

“It’s probably going to be a little complicated,” MacLellan said of future Green negotiations. “There’s a lot of moving parts around that. The best thing I think we can do is keep in communication, tell him what we’re thinking, and he can tell us what he’s thinking.

“If it works out, that’d be great, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

We wrote about Ward’s future last week, after he said he’d “love” to stay in Washington. The 34-year-old just wrapped the last of a four-year, $12 million deal and was full value for his $3M cap hit over the final two seasons. He scored a career-high 24 goals in 2013-14 and potted 19 this year, punctuated by yet another stellar playoff run.

Like Green, Ward could benefit from a relatively weak free agent class. There aren’t many goalscoring wingers available, and very few with Ward’s penchant for scoring in the postseason (Los Angeles’ Justin Williams, another pending UFA, would probably be in a similar scenario to Ward.)

And like with Green, MacLellan is hopeful Ward will be swayed by the positive vibes developed this year under Barry Trotz. You know, the whole we’re-building-something-here-so-take-less-money-to-stay approach.

“In the exit interviews you hear a lot of language of ‘this is the most fun I’ve ever had playing, this is the best team we’ve had, this is the most success we’ve experienced,'” MacLellan explained. “A lot of positive comments, so I’m assuming they all want to come back.”

Trotz: Capitals need to find ‘next level of killer instinct’

Barry Trotz

Now that he’s had a chance to reflect on the Washington Capitals’ 3-1 series collapse in the second round, Barry Trotz has been able to put his first season as head coach of the squad into perspective.

He saw some real positives from Washington in 2014-15. Braden Holtby was able to play like an elite goaltender, rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov took big strides forward, and Trotz felt the team’s best players grew as leaders as well.

“I think we didn’t cower from things, we looked things in the face when adversity hit our way,” Trotz told the Washington Post. “We sort of dealt with it head on, and we didn’t make excuses. That’s what I think we learned.”

And yet Washington can’t escape the fact that it once again was unable to reach the Eastern Conference Final. Another year of the Alex Ovechkin has been lost. So additional lessons are required.

“We said, ‘What lessons can we learn?’ ” Trotz said. “If we can learn anything, it’s that we’re still going to have to find that next level of killer instinct. We have a team like the Rangers on the ropes and how this series got there didn’t really matter, but I didn’t think we played as well in a couple of our wins that we did win, and we played quite well in some of our losses. It really doesn’t matter. You still have an opportunity at certain points where if you can knock out a team, you’ve got to find that next level of hardness, killer instinct, whatever. And I think we recognized it.”

Whether they’ll be able to do that remains to be seen, but in the meantime they have some matters to address over the summer. Holtby, Kuznetsov, Nate Schmidt, and Marcus Johansson are all set to become restricted free agents and they also have quite a few players that could potentially walk, including forward Joel Ward and defenseman Mike Green.

Mike Green, a pending UFA, says it’s ‘not about the money’

Calgary Flames v Washington Capitals

Caps fans still holding out hope that Mike Green can be re-signed may be buoyed by what the 29-year-old defenseman had to say today.

“I want to win the Cup,” he said, per the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt. “It’s not about money.”

Green, a pending unrestricted free agent, has been quite open about his desire to remain with the Capitals.

“My heart is in Washington,” he said in March. “It always will be until something else happens. My focus is here. My focus is winning a championship here and giving that to the fans. As an organization, that’s what we want as a team. I’m a part of that until the day I die or retire.”

Then, in April, Green called this season’s version of the Caps “by far the best team we’ve had overall.”

Alas, Washington fell short again in the playoffs. (Thanks in part to an ill-advised penalty by Green.) And with the Caps already committed to four blue-liners through at least 2016-17 — Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Karl Alzner — unless Green is willing to provide a big discount, it remains hard to see him back next season.

Remember also that new contracts will be needed for pending restricted free agents Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov. And the Caps may try to re-sign UFA Joel Ward, too.

We don’t want to read too much into this, but one Capitals player was talking today as if Green would be moving on:

Green had 10 goals and 35 assists in 72 games this season.

What’s next for Ovechkin?


It happened again; the Washington Capitals fostered high hopes, but Alex Ovechkin & Co. fell short of the conference finals.

That doesn’t mean he’s getting the same heat he once did for a playoff exit, however. Mike Milbury and Keith Jones believe that he didn’t have the same burst in Game 7, yet they acknowledged his hard work, as many others have:

(Meanwhile, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz was downright effusive about his high opinion of the work from Ovechkin and Washington’s other top players.)

Perhaps deep down it’s all about the humanizing affect of some gray hairs?

Will the returns diminish?

Of course, that graying hair brings up a troubling question: what if Ovechkin’s best days are behind him?

He’ll turn 30 during the offseason, and as blogger-turned-front-office-employee Eric Tulsky once pointed out, things tend to really slide when you pass the big three-oh:

In addition, we now have an estimate of how even strength scoring ability changes through a player’s 30’s. On average, players retain about 90% of their scoring through age 29, but the drop from there is pretty sharp — they hit 80% at age 31, 70% at age 32-33, and 60% at age 35.

The easy counter is that Ovechkin isn’t like other snipers.

He’s a special player who could very well live off of his ridiculous power-play shooting. Then again, there’s also the wear-and-tear of being one of the most physical star forwards of his generation. It’s estimated that Ovechkin has thrown 1,224 hits since 2009-10; that’s a ton of extra collisions, even if his opponent received the brunt of the impact in every instance. His reckless style might lose some of its appeal as he goes grayer.

What we know happens next and what we don’t

For one thing, it’s clear there will be no rest for the weary:

That might be a bit challenging for a guy who seemed spent after Game 7:

Anyway, the biggest question marks revolve around the makeup of a Capitals team that may look very different in 2015-16. The impression is that one or more of key free agents such as Joel Ward and Mike Green may not return. It’s also clear that RFA Braden Holtby’s impending raise could make Washington’s estimated $21 million in cap space look like an illusion.

As much as Barry Trotz may request even more defensive prowess, Washington would be wise to focus on giving Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom a little more support. Just look at the drop-off in production after those two:


Ovechkin – 79 points
Backstrom – 79 points
Joel Ward – 49 points
Marcus Johansson – 44 points
Troy Brouwer – 43 points


Ovechkin – 81 points
Backstrom – 78 points
John Carlson – 55 points
Johansson – 47 points
Mike Green – 45 points

It’s plausible that Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov might make big strides next season, but one could argue that the Caps should still shop for more offensive help.


Long story short, Ovechkin is likely to remain a star for some time, yet Washington has to hope that he defies broader stats about snipers falling sharply after they turn 30. It should be fascinating to see if all the talk about growth ends up being justified, especially for “The Great Eight.”

Caps’ Trotz: ‘Defeat is not your undertaker’

Barry Trotz

For some, tonight’s overtime Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers was just another crushing defeat for the Alex Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals. Those around the team seem more optimistic … at least those who can digest it already, that is.

Head coach Barry Trotz praised the Caps’ big-time players even as the sting of that 2-1 OT defeat lingers, as the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt reports.

“We’re learning from our history and we’re looking it right in the eye,” Trotz said. “We went after this game…and almost pulled it off.”

“I think my top guys delivered. All my top guys…They grew up. They grew today.”

Braden Holtby echoed Trotz’s thoughts, right down to talking about growth, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

“If we keep growing the way we grew this year we’re going to do some special things,” Holtby said.

Trotz also backed up Ovechkin’s now-ill-fated guarantee one more time:

It’s easy to see why the Capitals aren’t throwing each other under the bus. This series was about as tight as it gets with all seven games being decided by a single goal. Washington may have been in round three if a few extra bounces went its way.

Of course, there is one naysayer side to growth talk: in a salary cap era, you may lose key contributors to free agency like Mike Green and Joel Ward. It’s also difficult to ignore the fact that Alex Ovechkin will turn 30 around training camp time (the age where most snipers begin to decline in production).

Still, the Caps saw promising work in year one under Trotz, and one can assume that young players including Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky will only get better and gain more trust from their head coach.

Don’t get things twisted, though; not every member of the organization is taking the loss in stride just yet.