If the Columbus Blue Jackets enter the 2015-16 campaign with largely the same defense as last season, it won’t be because they didn’t try to make a big change.
Per Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:
The Blue Jackets were in on trade talks concerning Dougie Hamilton before Boston sent him to Calgary, and they’ve contacted the St. Louis Blues about Kevin Shattenkirk. The Jackets also made a contract offer to free agent Paul Martin before he signed with San Jose.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen plans to keep looking, but it’s worth noting that Columbus is only about $4 million below the ceiling after signing Brandon Saad and Matt Calvert, per General Fanager. That’s not to say that Columbus can’t still acquire a top defenseman, but it’s more likely that it would have to involve the other team either retaining salary or taking a contract in order to make things work.
As things stand, the Blue Jackets have one of the cheapest defenses in the league as their money has instead flowed to their forwards and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s thanks in part to the fact that blueliners David Savard, Dalton Prout, Ryan Murray, and Kevin Connauton each come with a cap hit of $1.3 million or less, but all of them will be restricted free agents next summer and the raises they might demand has to also be a consideration.
So ultimately Columbus might stick with what it has and hope Murray can stay healthy as the 2012 second overall pick has run into serious injury problems early in his career.
“To me, getting him healthy would be the best addition any team has made this summer,” Kekalainen said. “It would make a huge difference for us.”
Stout defense, big-time scorers, grit and goaltending. Justin Williams believes that the Washington Capitals boast every element you’d expect to see in a winning team, as the Washington Post reports.
“Obviously you need to earn respect of the league, and certainly L.A. has done that, and Washington is certainly doing that the way they’ve played the last couple years,” Williams said. “Not making playoffs, you get to watch a little hockey, and I watched a lot last year. They were tough to play against, good goalie, dynamic players, good defense, all the ingredients of a championship team.”
The 33-year-old winger would know a contender when he sees it, right?
He already has three Stanley Cup victories with two different teams (two with the Los Angeles Kings, one with the Carolina Hurricanes) under his belt.
Let’s face it: it’s also easier to take his stance seriously considering how much of a relative bargain his two-year, $6.5 million contract is.
It’s one thing when a free agent seems to land a huge payday and you get the impression that said player is burying the big-money lead, but perhaps Williams could have grabbed a bigger contract if winning wasn’t as much of a priority? Not many players win a Conn Smythe and then see a decrease in pay, after all.
As excited as T.J. Oshie may be to join the Capitals, Williams stands as arguably the more interesting addition: a strong two-way player with playoff credentials. It helps that he clearly singled out Washington as a strong destination, too.
(H/T to The Score.)
Alex Ovechkin will turn 30 years old in September. He started his NHL career in 2005-06 when the league came out of its second lockout and posted 52 goals and 106 points.
He’s coming off another 50-plus goal season in 2014-15. It’s the sixth time in his NHL career he’s accomplished the feat, including his 65-goal season in 2007-08. But the one thing that has eluded him in his time with the Washington Capitals is a Stanley Cup, much to the lamentation of the club’s owner Ted Leonsis.
“He’s a fantastic player. I think all of you in this room, don’t take Alex Ovechkin for granted. I think that happens sometimes. You see him all the time and there’s this repetitiveness about his greatness,” said Leonsis, as per CSN Washington.
“But when people from outside the organization come in, I think you heard that with Justin Williams, this is the best player in the league. He’s been that for the last 10 years. And the consistency that he has brought is really historical.
“He doesn’t miss games. He plays hard all the time and I feel I haven’t met my commitment to him, that we would build a team that would be able to win Stanley Cups. That we’re in it together.”
Eliminated by the New York Rangers after a seven-game, second-round series that went the distance in May, the Capitals have had a busy off-season trying to bolster their club to take a run at the Stanley Cup next year.
They signed unrestricted free agent forward Justin Williams, known for his penchant of scoring important goals in Game 7s, and then acquired T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and a 2016 third-round pick the following day.
Oshie admitted in an interview with Mike Vogel of the Monumental Network that he’s unsure at this point in the summer of where he will fit into the Capitals lineup.