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.
The deal is reportedly worth $4.7 million, with a salary of $2.2 million next season and $2.5 million in 2016-17.
Allen was a restricted free agent. The 24-year-old goalie went 22-7-4 during the regular season, with a .913 save percentage. He then had his struggles in the playoffs (.904 in six starts) as the Blues were eliminated in the first round.
Next season, Allen and Brian Elliott, also under contract for two more years, will once again compete for the starting role.
“We believe that we have two good goaltenders and training camp is going to decide who plays opening night,” GM Doug Armstrong said recently. “That’s how I see it from my perspective.”
Coach Ken Hitchcock believes that what Allen experienced in the playoffs will help him going forward.
“I get the fact there were three goals that went in that were ugly,” Hitchcock said in May. “That’s the growth of a young player.”
Allen will still be an RFA when his contract expires.
Is it too early to get excited about Crosby vs. Ovechkin again?
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?