It’s been quite some time since the Washington Capitals were the free-wheeling, high-scoring machine that once stacked up goals, division titles and serious blame in huge quantities.
Still, for some, Mike Green’s inevitable departure feels like the true end of an era.
The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg explores that feeling, as he looks back on the “Young Guns” group that featured Green, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom.
While Ovechkin was the biggest star of the four, Green embodied the spirit of that movement in some ways:
Green was the only native English speaker of the Young Guns, the tattooed, spiky-haired skateboard-loving icon who was pals with Ryan Zimmerman and Chris Cooley, and was mildly popular in certain teenage sets. His offensive peak was absurd: In Washington’s first three modern playoff seasons, he averaged an outrageous .91 points per game. And even if he became a seldom-mentioned third-pair defenseman at the end of his tenure, he remained synonymous with some of the most explosive teams Washington had ever seen.
In case you’re fuzzy on the hype they once produced, check out this video, which feels ancient even it surfaced in 2008:
With injuries and a declining role over the years, there were times that Green felt like a shell of himself, even as he quietly proved effective in the eyes of many. To some, his exit is overdue, yet plenty of Capitals fans will sigh wistfully as they watch Green skate around in Red Wings red.
Francis: Semin in 14-15 didn’t have ‘high compete level’
The Carolina Hurricanes plan to buy out Alex Semin’s contract after just two seasons of his five-year, $35 million deal. The move wasn’t shocking given that he scored just six goals and 19 points in 57 contests in 2014-15, but Hurricanes GM Ron Francis nevertheless made made his rationale clear.
“He certainly has had some injuries, but last season he did not have the compete level we expect,” Francis told the News & Observer. “We talk about holding our players accountable, and there were some things we felt he did not hold up to, so we made this decision.
“When we talk about accountability and a consistently high compete level, we have to follow through, or they make no sense. He did not have that high compete level, for whatever reason.”
Semin has had some terrific stretches in his career, but inconsistency has been a problem. As his former coach Bruce Boudreau put it back in 2013, “[Semin] can show flashes of absolute brilliance one minute. Then you’re going, ‘What are you doing?’ the next.”
According to his agent, the 31-year-old winger will have no problem finding an NHL team with which to sign.
“Without question, Semin will play in the NHL and will have a great season,” Diamond told Sportsnet today. “We’ve already received calls on him.”
Earlier today, the Hurricanes announced that they’d placed Semin on unconditional waivers with the intention of buying out his contract.
To be sure, there are teams in the market for goal-scoring wingers. For that reason, the likes of Pittsburgh and Florida have been linked to Toronto’s Phil Kessel.
Semin would be a cheaper alternative than Kessel, who’s signed through 2021-22 for a cap hit of $8 million. Of course, Semin’s also four years older and coming off a season in which he scored just six goals in 57 games.
It’s what Semin’s done in the past that may convince a team to take a calculated gamble. The former 13th overall pick has 238 career goals, including one 40-goal season in Washington.
With the start of the free agent period less than 48 hours away, teams had to either present qualifying offers to their restricted free agents or allow them to enter the UFA market. While most RFAs will receive them, every year there are some noteworthy players that teams choose to concede the rights to.
This year Carolina Hurricanes forward Riley Nash and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Yannick Weber are among those that top that list.
Nash was taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers. Rather than sign him though, Edmonton traded his rights to Carolina in 2010. Since then the 26-year-old forward has registered 22 goals and 37 assists in 178 contests, including 25 points in 68 games in 2014-15.
Hurricanes GM Ron Francis hasn’t ruled out the possibility of re-signing Nash despite the fact that he’s allowing Nash to enter the open market, per the Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander.
Weber, 26, is the veteran of 229 NHL contests. He had 11 goals and 21 points while averaging 17:11 minutes in 65 contests in 2014-15. Vancouver’s decision to give up its exclusive rights to Weber is eyebrow raising.
So Weber can become UFA now? Bit surprising, give how Benning talked up Weber at end-of-season presser.
Similarly to the case with Nash though, Vancouver might still end up signing him. It sounds like the Canucks’ primary concern was what he might have gotten via arbitration, per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. Still, Weber has been given control over his situation so Vancouver will have to see what he does with it.
Some other noteworthy players that will be allowed to test the open market include Colorado’s Jordan Caron, Columbus’ Dana Tyrell, Edmonton’s Keith Aulie, and Winnipeg’s Keaton Ellerby.