Tag: Matt Niskanen

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders

Caps d-man Kundratek signs in KHL

Washington blueliner Tomas Kundratek has signed with Latvian-based KHL club Dinamo Riga, the team announced on Friday.

Kundratek, 25, has appeared in 30 games for Washington over the last four years, though none in the last two — he’s been playing exclusively for the Caps’ AHL affiliate in Hershey, scoring 27 points in 55 games last year.

Originally selected by the Rangers in the third round of the 2008 draft, Kundratek was acquired by Washington in 2011 and was a semi-regular fixture during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, scoring seven points in 25 games.

From there, he was gradually bumped down the defensive depth chart — especially last summer, when the Caps inked d-men Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik to lengthy deals. Kundratek also suffered a torn ACL while playing for Hershey, an injury that stalled his progression.

Ehrhoff likely headed to free agency

Christian Ehrhoff

Christian Ehrhoff’s agent said his client is probably done with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“For the moment I would suggest he’ll be available come July 1,” Rick Curran told PHT on Wednesday, the same day news of Ehrhoff’s house listing ran on Realtor’s Celebrity Real Estate page,

Ehrhoff, 32, signed a one-year, $4 million deal with Pittsburgh last July, not long after Buffalo bought out the remaining seven years of his 10-year, $40 million contract.

The signing came with significant fanfare. GM Jim Rutherford said it was a “good day,” adding that Pittsburgh was “very fortunate” to land the coveted offensive d-man, who’d generated plenty of interest. Many pundits thought Ehrhoff would fit in nicely, replacing some of the offense lost with Matt Niskanen signing in Washington.

But things didn’t go as planned. Ehrhoff’s offensive production was slow at the beginning of the season (though he did log big minutes, and played a steady top-four role.) In the second half of the year, concussion issues derailed his campaign; the German rearguard only played six games over the final three months of the season, missing 33 games all told.

Ehrhoff was then held out of Pittsburgh’s opening-round playoff loss to the Rangers.

“[Ehrhoff] just hasn’t been progressing,” head coach Mike Johnston said midway through the series, per NHL.com. “That’s the step that’s been taken and it’s because he’s sort of flat-lined in his recovery and will be progressing from there.”

PHT emailed Curran for an update on his client’s health, but did not receive a reply.

Update: Curran tells the Post-Gazette that Ehrhoff “has been given a clean bill of health.”

Ehrhoff’s health will certainly play a role in how much interest Ehrhoff garners on the open market. While he’s no longer the offensive producer he was in Vancouver a few years ago — he scored 44 and a career-high 50 points with the Canucks in 2009-10 and ’10-11 — Ehrhoff, when healthy, remains a capable puck-mover that averaged nearly 22 minutes last year.

As for the Pens, this move could suggest they’ll try and retain veteran d-man Paul Martin. Martin proved a dependable presence in the wake of all the injuries on defense last year, and averaged nearly 25 minutes per night against the Rangers.

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.

Petry says signing with Montreal is his first choice

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Four

“Personally, I’d love to see him back. I think he compliments our defense corps great and I think that, at his age, good defensemen like that are hard to come by.”

That quote comes courtesy Montreal’s P.K. Subban, speaking at Thursday’s end-of-year media availability about fellow blueliner Jeff Petry.

Petry, a pending UFA who came to Montreal at the trade deadline and showed very well, is thought to be at the top of Habs GM Marc Bergevin’s priority list this summer.

Turns out the Habs are high on Petry’s list, too.

Petry, 27, scored seven points in 19 regular-season games with the Habs while averaging 22:11 TOI per night, then continued that strong effort in the postseason with three points in 12 games, averaging 22:17.

It’s clear Montreal would like him back. D-men Sergei Gonchar and Mike Weaver are also UFAs — not expected to be re-signed — and while Bergevin needs to ink new deals for RFAs Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu, Petry could fit within Montreal’s current cap structure.

But it won’t be easy.

First, there’s a money issue — Petry made $3.075M last season and would likely see a significant raise on the open market. This year’s UFA d-man class isn’t especially deep, and it’d be hard for Petry to ignore the payday Matt Niskanen scored by going to market last summer (seven years, $40.25 million from Washington.)

Petry should also have a number of interested suitors. Chief among them would be the Detroit Red Wings, who have been on a seemingly endless search for a right-shot defenseman (Petry shoots right). What’s more, Petry is a Michigan native, a Michigan State Spartan alumni — where he was teammates with Justin Abdelkader — and the son of ex-MLB pitcher Dan Petry, who helped the Detroit Tigers win the 1984 World Series.

Is Gleason questionable? Caps summon Schmidt

Tim Gleason

The Washington Capitals announced that defenseman Nate Schmidt has been summoned from AHL Hershey in a move that might be a hint about Tim Gleason’s status for Game 7 on Wednesday.

Gleason didn’t see any ice time in the final 10:57 minutes of Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers. After the contest coach Barry Trotz described the 32-year-old defenseman as “banged up,” per the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt.

Washington acquired Gleason from the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 28 in exchange for Jack Hillen and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick. He had two assists and a plus-five rating in 17 games with the Capitals to finish the season, but his ice time has dipped to just 13:28 minutes per game in the playoffs as Washington has leaned on its top-five blueliners in John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, and Mike Green.

Schmidt, 23, had a goal and three assists in 39 contests with Washington during the 2014-15 regular season.

If Gleason can’t play on Wednesday, then that would mark the first change in Washington’s defense since the playoffs began.