The Washington Capitals have agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with Dan Ellis, per the team’s website.
Ellis is a veteran of 212 career NHL games. The 35-year-old netminder posted a 2.35 GAA and .914 save percentage in eight contests with the Florida Panthers in 2014-15. He also had a 2.71 GAA and .904 save percentage in 37 AHL contests.
He’ll probably start the campaign competing for playing time in the minors with another veteran goaltender in Justin Peters. Meanwhile 25-year-old Braden Holtby and 23-year-old Philipp Grubauer are projected to begin the 2015-16 season as the Capitals’ starting and backup netminders respectively.
Due in part to the youth of the Capitals’ top two goalies, the projected AHL tandem has logged more NHL games than their Washington counterparts.
Washington has already had a busy summer with the signing of Justin Williams and acquisition of T.J. Oshie, but the team isn’t finished yet. It still needs to come to terms with restricted free agents Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Holtby.
For all the star power that the NHL boasts outside of Pittsburgh and Washington, it’s difficult to resist the siren call of a spike in the Sidney Crosby – Alex Ovechkin rivalry. It’s perfectly plausible that we’ll never get a sequel to that memorable 2009 playoff series.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s be honest: it’s been a while since the Penguins and Capitals were in a better position collectively to pull this off.
It’s still strange to picture Phil Kessel in a Penguins uniform, firing home well-placed passes from Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin … but would it be that outrageous to imagine Kessel chasing Ovechkin in the Maurice Richard race now? As excited as Crosby and Malkin seem to be about the acquisition, Kessel and hockey fans should be especially thrilled.
Here’s the wrinkle that makes things even more fun: while the Penguins added the biggest name, Washington’s moves likely provide the Capitals with a deeper array of weapons.
Beyond the obvious in Nicklas Backstrom, the Caps now combine seasoned newcomers (Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie) with promising youngsters (Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky) to form a frightening forward group.
Hockey’s a team sport, and Crosby – Ovechkin can only be so riveting on their own … so how about Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and Kris Letang vs. Ovechkin, Backstrom, Williams, Oshie and Washington’s bevvy of pricey blueliners? Yeah, that sounds like appointment viewing.
While they’re still young
As strange as it sounds, the window might be closing on this rivalry, at least as a true showcase of two players who are seriously considered two of the best alive.*
Ovechkin will turn 30 on Sept. 17, and his hair is already looking a little grayer these days. Crosby turns 28 in August and people are already wondering if he’s startingto slow down.
No, the Penguins and Capitals haven’t totally mortgaged their futures this summer, yet the complexion of each franchise changed in some resounding ways in the past few days. You never know what might happen – we’ve been fooled before – but it’s tough not to picture an epic 2016 playoff series between these two players (and teams).
If nothing else, it’s fun to think about.
* – One could quibble about where the two rank among the elite, but they’re at least up there, right?
Agent: Green and Fehr will ‘move on’ from the Caps
Defenseman Mike Green and center Eric Fehr will not be returning to the Capitals next season and will test the unrestricted free agent market on July 1, the agent for both players told CSNWashington.com on Thursday.
On a conference call this afternoon, Caps GM Brian MacLellan did not confirm that Green and Fehr would not be back.
However, the agent for both players, Craig Oster, told CSN Washington otherwise.
“It’s a function of where the Capitals are as an organization, changes that have been made there and the salary cap as to why they weren’t in a position to do much more than they were,” Oster said. “At the end of the day, it’s a decision by them as to how they make their best team and based on all the factors it wasn’t going to work out for Mike or Eric or the organization and both sides will continue to move on.”
The Caps still have to sign restricted free agents Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Braden Holtby. In addition to Green and Fehr, Jay Beagle, Joel Ward, Curtis Glencross, and Tim Gleason are pending UFAs.
MacLellan said today that he still plans to add a seventh defenseman, but what kind of player will be determined by how much cap space is left over. It’s possible Gleason could be re-signed.
MacLellan also said there were “a few possibilities” among the pending UFAs, as well as on the trade market, to add a top-six winger.
The Caps have been rumored as a potential destination for Patrick Sharp.
Veteran forward Eric Fehr, who flourished in his role as Washington’s third-line center this season, has undergone successful elbow surgery, the club announced on Thursday.
Per a release, Fehr will be healthy for the start of next season “if rehabilitation goes well.”
Fehr, who missed 10 of Washington’s 14 playoff games with a shoulder injury, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. There does appear a mutual desire from both sides to have Fehr return to the Caps next season, especially after he scored 19 goals and 33 points this season while posting a career-high 14:51 TOI per night.
“Obviously, I have a lot of friends here and I’ve been here a lot of years,” Fehr told CSN Washington. “I think this is a special group. Obviously, I’d love to be back here, but looking at the amount of guys we have unsigned right now you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Fehr is one of seven Capitals scheduled to go UFA, along with Mike Green, Joel Ward, Jay Beagle, John Erskine, Curtis Glencross and Tim Gleason. GM Brian MacLellan also needs to strike new deals with important RFAs Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and goalie Braden Holtby.