Last season, the Washington Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07. That disappointment led to coach Adam Oates and longtime GM George McPhee being fired and turned the offseason into a bit of a tumultuous one.
If you ask Caps forward Brooks Laich about last season, he’s looking on the bright side of life as Dan Rosen of NHL.com shared.
“My honest opinion is not making the playoffs last year might have been the greatest day going forward for our organization, because I really think it made us all take a look in the mirror and at our failures and why we are failing,” Laich told NHL.com. “If we would have made the playoffs and lost in the first or second round it would have been the same old story, but you wouldn’t have had that hard, brutally honest look at yourselves to realize why you are failing.”
To say the Caps have been treading water in the postseason the past few years may sound cruel, but when you don’t get past the second round six straight seasons, maybe that’s the right way to put it.
Going through a season that saw virtually everyone’s production drop is a painful way to make change happen, but now the Caps will look forward to Barry Trotz and GM Brian MacLellan trying to get the team to their first Eastern Conference Final since 1998.
When Mikhail Grabovski signed with the New York Islanders, you had to wonder how Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin took the news.
Turns out it wasn’t a happy moment for him. In an interview with ITAR-TASS in Russia (translated by Russian Machine Never Breaks), Ovechkin gives his thoughts on Grabovski’s departure as well as the Capitals signing Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen.
On Grabovski leaving, Ovechkin kept it short saying, “Of course I am upset about Mikhail Grabovski. We had a close relationship.”
As for bringing on a pair of former Pittsburgh Penguins in Orpik and Niskanen to help the Caps with their defensive issues, he’s a bit happier.
“That our team signed such guys [as Niskanen and Orpik] – that’s a very strong move,” Ovechkin said. “Orpik, for example, is a very physical defenseman. If he plays on your team – it’s a positive for you. But the results will be at the end of the season, it hasn’t even started yet. Who knows what other changes are coming to the team– maybe there will be a trade or something else.”
Maybe there will be or maybe they won’t, but keeping Ovechkin feeling good helps the Caps out. Losing Grabovski certainly hurts, especially when they don’t have someone to take his place at the moment.
It should make for a fascinating camp with Ovechkin losing a friend and gaining a new GM in Brian MacLellan and coach Barry Trotz, the latter of whom may present the biggest test for him.
Brooks Orpik is trading sides in a modern rivalry and cashing in — in a big way.
The Washington Capitals have signed Orpik to a five-year, $27.5 million deal to help stiffen up their blue line.
After playing 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins and menacing Alex Ovechkin, he’ll be on the same side of the ice with the Washington captain. Caps GM Brian MacLellan lauded Orpik’s other qualities.
“We feel Brooks’ leadership and experience will greatly enhance our defense for years to come,” MacLellan said. “Brooks plays tough minutes against the opposition’s best players.”
While that’s all good and fun, the big story here is the money. At $5.5 million per year for the next five years, the 33-year-old Orpik is going to need to play those tough minutes for a few more years now. There’s no doubt the Caps needed defensive help as it was a major undoing for them, but they have to hope his leadership and tough play can carry them.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin knows it was a rough summer for the organization.
Both coach Adam Oates and 17-year GM George McPhee were fired and replaced by Barry Trotz and Brian MacLellan. As he arrived in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards that take place on Tuesday night, he lightened the mood about the changes made as Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post shared.
“Thank God they don’t fire me yet,” he added, drawing laughs from the reporters around him. “I’m still here with the Capitals.”
Hey-oh! Ovechkin is in Vegas after all. As for working with Trotz, Ovechkin said he doesn’t know what the coach wants to do yet, but said it’ll be a chance for everyone to get on the same page. From Prewitt:
“I can tell you nothing, but we’re going to see how it goes into training camp,” Ovechkin said. “[Trotz is] going to explain to everybody. It’s not about just me. Everybody has to change. We’re going to be in that kind of position.”
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006, it’s safe to say just about everyone is on notice, even the captain of the team who scored 51 goals last season.
L.A. Kings GM Dean Lombardi is still riding the high of winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons, but he’s going to have a busy time at the NHL Draft next week.
The Kings will have nine picks at the 2014 Draft. Joining L.A. with a busy day will be the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, and Washington Capitals.
For GMs Doug Armstrong and Garth Snow, they’re a bit more used to this dance while Jim Nill and Brian MacLellan haven’t been running the show at the draft on their own very long. For MacLellan it’ll be his first and Nill his second.
The success the Kings have had in recent drafts says Lombardi and their array of scouts have done a solid job of finding those gems in the middle to late part of the first and second-rounds. Part of L.A.’s “That 70s Line” is a good example of that as Tanner Pearson was the 30th overall selection at the 2012 Draft and Tyler Toffoli went 47th overall in 2010.
Those five teams won’t be the only busy ones, however, as six other teams have eight selections. The Buffalo Sabres will have four picks in the Top 50 and five of the first 61 picks including three second-round selections. Sabres GM Tim Murray has made it clear he’s hoping to trade up to get another first-round pick to go along with the second overall selection.
With the number of questions surrounding the depth of talent in this year’s draft, these teams may not just be busy making selections but dealing them as well.