Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chris Osgood: Hall of Famer?

With Detroit Red Wings netminder Chris Osgood annoucing his retirement on Tuesday the question begs; Is Osgood a Hall of Famer.

Based on his career numbers the answer is yes. Osgood finished with 401 wins over his 17-year career, a 2.49 save percentage, 50 regular season shutouts and 74 career playoff wins. Oh, and he just happened to win three Stanley Cup championships.

However, despite his impressive career numbers I'm going to say that Osgood does not get elected to the Hall of Fame, and here's why.

There's no doubt that Osgood came through in the clutch for the Wings on numerous occasions. After allowing a fluky goal in overtime of Game 5 of the 1998 Western Conference Finals, Osgood rebounded with a shutout in Game 6 to seal a return trip to the Finals for the Wings.

Ten years later Osgood was at it for the Wings, again. After Dominik Hasek struggled in Games 3 and 4 against the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, Osgood was named the starter for Game 5 and led the Wings to nine straight victories.

After the Wings dropped Games 4 and 5 of the Western Finals against the Dallas Stars, Osgood allowed just one goal in the Wings series-clinching win in Game 6 in Dallas, and then shutout the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Detroit went on to win the series in six games for the franchises fourth Stanley Cup victory in 11 seasons.

However, Osgood was also pushed aside by the Wings organization on several occasions. Mike Vernon was named the starter for the 1997 playoffs after splitting time with Osgood during the regular season. Vernon went on to lead the Wings to their first Stanley Cup championship in 42 years.

During the 2001 offseason, the Wings acquired Hasek from the Buffalo Sabres and subsequently left Osgood unprotected in the waiver draft where he was picked up by the New York Islanders.

Due to his poor regular season play the last several seasons, Osgood lost the starting job to Jimmy Howard during the 2009-10 season and played just 23 games last season due to injury issues.

Osgood clearly has the resume, but how many Hall of Fame goalies were benched before a Stanley Cup run, waived three years after winning a Cup, brought back to the organization and eventually losing his starting job to a rookie?

Ozzie was always one of my favorite players. I'll never forget his fight with Patrick Roy at the end of the 1998 season where Osgood was clearly outweighed and probably outmuscled, but managed to hold his own.

His ability to deal with adversity and come through in the clutch were his greatest strengths, but there are too many setbacks on his resume for me to say he is a Hall of Famer.

For his sake, I hope I'm wrong.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Really? Really? Really?

So, when I got home from work tonight I decided to check washingtonpost.com to see if any new interesting articles had been posted. As usual, Katie Carrera had posted a few new entries on Capitals Insider, so I decided to take a look and see what new updates she was giving us.

Her first post was an interview with George McPhee in which GMGM expressed his satisfaction with the offseason moves the Capitals have made so far, and said if the organization doesn't make any more moves he would be happy with the roster as currently constructed.

As usual the thread undernearth Carrera's post was filled with comments, many of them insulting to McPhee.

There was one that stuck out in my mind, and is the prime motivation for my entry tonight. One fan suggested the Caps trade Alex Semin, and Mike Green to the Los Angeles Kings for Drew Doughty, and maybe Dustin Brown if the Kings were willing to give him up.

This is actually an interesting proposition that would never happen and here's why. Obviously, a Green for Doughty swap would be a win for the Caps as Doughty is a much better defender then Green, and the Caps also have Dennis Wideman and John Carlson on the roster who are more than capable of quarterbacking the power play. Wideman and Carlson manning the points would give the power play two player who are capable of handling the puck and potentially improving the pp's zone time. How many times last season did we all watch Ovie let the puck get passed him and cost the team prescious zone time?

However, the trade won't happen and here's why. Though Green and Semin possess more natural skill then Doughty and Brown a swap of these four players would be a step back for the Kings.

Los Angeles has rebuilt itself into a defense first hard checking team, and as much as I love Sasha and Greenie those two terms don't exactly stick out when you think of them.

Also, a Semin for Brown swap would strip the Kings of one of there best forwards for a guy you can't count on for a consistent effort one game to the next.

Now, having said that I don't think McPhee can trade, or release Semin unless he knows for sure that he has someone who can fill the scoring void that Semin would leave. As much as a I agree Semin should go, you can't get rid of a player his caliber without a backup plan, and a second line of Troy Brouwer, Marcus Johansson and Brooks Laich will not fill the scoring void left by Semin.

Though it's a trade I would most certainly endorse, it's also a trade that Dean Lombardi would never agree to because he and anyone else with any hockey knowledge knows who would come out on the better side.

But, if McPhee were able to pull it off, I wonder how many of the naysayers would change their tune?

Since Lombardi isn't an idiot, I guess we'll never know.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

George McPhee's draft history

Anyone that knows me, or reads my blog knows that I am a big supporter of George McPhee. I think McPhee is primarily responsible for the current state of the organization and will be primarily responsible for the team winning the Stanley Cup.
But, there are those among Caps nation that think anyone with the amount of first round picks the Caps have had the last seven years could have built this team and that McPhee is the reason the team hasn’t moved beyond the second round of the playoffs since 1998.
I’ve also heard arguments that McPhee should’ve learned what it takes to win in the playoffs well before his 14th season as General Manager and his argument that a playoff coach is no different than a regular season coach is utterly ridiculous.
So, I decided to take a look back at all of the drafts since McPhee was hired as Vice President and General Manager on June 9, 1997.
1997
9
Nick Boynton
D
35
Jean Francois Fortin
D
89
Curtis Cruickshank
G
116
Kevin Caulfield
RW
143
Henrik Petre
D
200
Pierre-Luc Therrien
G
226
Matt Oikawa
RW

1998
49
Jomar Cruz
G
59
Todd Hornung
C
106
Krys Barch
LW
107
Chris Corrinet
RW
118
Mike Siklenka
D
125
Eric Wendell
C
179
Nathan Forster
D
193
Ratislav Stana
G
220
Mike Farrell
D
251
Blake Evans
C

1999
7
Kris Beech
C
29
Michal Sivek
C
31
Charlie Stephens
C/RW
34
Ross Lupaschuk
D
37
Nolan Yonkman
D
132
Roman Tvrdon
C/LW
175
Kyle Clark
R


192
David Bornhammer (Johansson)
D
219
Maxim Orlov
C
249
Igor Shadilov
D

2000
26
Brian Sutherby
C
43
Matt Pettinger
LW
61
Jakub Cutta
D
121
Ryan Vanbuskirk
D
163
Ivan Nepriayev
C
289
Bjorn Nord
D

2001
58
Nathan Paetsch
D
90
Owen Fussey
RW
125
Jeff Lucky
RW
160
A. Ternavsky
D
191
Zybnek Novak
F
221
John Oduya
D
249
Matt Maglione
D
254
Peter Polcik
LW
275
Robert Muller
G
284
Viktor Hubl
LW

2002
12
Steve Eminger
D
13
Alexander Semin
LW
17
Boyd Gordon
RW
59
Maxime Daigneault
G
77
Patrick Wellar
D
92
Derek Krestanovich
C
109
Jevon Desautels
LW
118
Petr Dvorak
C
145
Robert Gherson
G
179
Marian Havel
C/LW
209
Joni Lindlof
W
242
Igor Ignatushkin
W
272
Patric Blomdahl
W
18
Eric Fehr
RW
83
Steve Werner
RW
109
Andreas Valdix
LW
155
Josh Robertson
C
249
Andrew Joudrey
C
279
Mark Olafson
RW

2004
1
Alex Ovechkin
LW
27
Jeff Schultz
D
29
Mike Green
D
33
Chris Bourque
LW
62
Mikhail Yunkov
C
66
Sami Lepisto
D
88
Clayton Barthel
D
132
Oscar Hedman
D
138
Pasi Salonen
LW
166
Peter Guggisberg
RW
197
Andrew Gordon
RW
230
Justin Mrazek
G
263
Travis Morin
C

2005
14
Sasha Pokulok
D

27
Joe Finley
D

109
Andrew Thomas
D

118
Patrick McNeill
D

143
Daren Machesney
G

181
Tim Kennedy
LW

209
Viktor Dovgan
D


2006
4
Nicklas Backstrom
C
23
Simeon Varlamov
G
34
Michal Neuvirth
G
35
Francois Bouchard
RW
52
Keith Seabrook
D
97
Oskar Osala
LW
122
Luke Lynes
C
127
Maxime Lacroix
LW
157
Brent Gwidt
C
177
Mathieu Perreault
C

2007
5
Karl Alzner
D
34
Josh Godfrey
D
46
Theo Ruth
D
84
Phil DeSimone
C
108
Brent Bruneteau
C
125
Brett Leffler
RW
154
Dan Dunn
G
180
Justin Taylor
C
185
Nick Larson
C
199
Andrew Glass
LW

2008
21
Anton Gustafsson
C
27
John Carlson
D
57
Eric Mestery
D
58
Dmitry Kugryshev
RW
93
Braden Holtby
G
144
Joel Broda
C
174
Greg Burke
LW
204
Stefan Della Rovere
LW
2009
Marcus Johansson
Dmitri Orlov
Cody Eakin
Patrick Wey
Brett Flemming
Garrett Mitchell
Benjamin Casavant
2010
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Stanislav Galiev
Phillip Grubauer
Caleb Herbert
Samuel Carrier
2011
Steffen Soberg
Patrick Koudys
Travis Boyd
Garrett Haar

McPhee clearly missed on almost every pick in his first five drafts. Brian Sutherby and Matt Pettinger are the only picks to ever become NHL regulars and neither of them are impact players.
McPhee’s fortunes changed with the 2002 and 2003 drafts when he drafted Alexander Semin, Boyd Gordon and Eric Fehr. Semin and Gordon were selected in 2002 and Fehr in 2003. Semin is the only one who is on the roster now as Gordon decided to sign with the Coyotes a few weeks ago, and Fehr was just traded to the Winnipeg Jets.
But, to me this is was a key draft because the Capitals turnaround because it brought players to the organization that became regulars and were guys the team could count on. Yes, Semin is clearly the best of the three and Fehr battled injuries, but the Caps did get a 21 goal season from Fehr and Gordon was a solid fourth-line center who could be counted on to play on the penalty kill and won nearly 60% of his faceoffs last season.
Since 2004, McPhee has drafted Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, Nicklas Backstrom, Michael Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov, Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Marcus Johansson that have become NHL regulars while Mathieu Perreault has been a solid contributor on recalls.
Braden Holtby flashed his potential this past season that has many thinking he will ultimately win the Capitals starting goaltender race.
There is also Dmitri Orlov, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Cody Eakin who played in the gold medal game of the World Junior Championships this past year and is expected to make the NHL roster in the next few years.
Not everyone single player has been a first round selection, either. Perreault was a 6th round pick in 2006 while Holtby was a fourth round pick in 2008. Eakin was actually selected in the third round in 2009 which is technically a high round pick, but I still think McPhee should get credit for that.
Where the improvement has come from I don’t know, but whatever it is doesn’t need to be changed.
George McPhee knows what this team and this organization needs. I know there has been a big stink about his decisions to not jump into free agency before this past offseason, but he wanted to see which of the homegrown players were going to pan out and which ones they needed to trade, or not resign in order to improve the team.
Depending on how this year’s free agent signings pan out, McPhee may need to part with a few of his young assets in order to give the Caps the one or two players they need to make a run at the Cup. But, that remains to be seen.
George McPhee built the Capitals into what is the best professional team in this area at this time and he did it once Ted Leonsis gave him full rain to do so.
I think he deserves to be here to see the end result.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Capitals Re-Sign Defenseman Karl Alzner

The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman Karl Alzner to a two-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to have re-signed Karl Alzner to a two-year contract,” said McPhee. “We feel he’s an important part of our defensive core who logs critical minutes against other teams’ top players.”;

Alzner, 22, recently completed his first full season in the NHL, playing in all 82 games with the Capitals and posting career highs in goals (two), assists (10), points (12), penalty minutes (24) and plus/minus (+14). His 132 blocked shots were third on the team while his 98 hits were tied for seventh. Alzner was one of just three NHL defenseman aged 22 and younger to play in all 82 regular-season games. In addition, he ranked sixth on the team in average time on ice per game (20:00). The Burnaby, British Columbia, native recorded an assist in nine playoff games and was tied for second on the team with 20 blocked shots.

From 2008 through 2010, Alzner appeared in 103 AHL games with the Hershey Bears, collecting 41 points (seven goals, 34 assists) and a plus-57 rating while helping lead the team to the 2010 Calder Cup championship.

A two-time gold medalist at the IIHF World Junior Championship with Canada, Alzner captained the Canadian team in 2007-08 and was named one of the team’s top three players by the coaching staff. Alzner also represented Canada in the 2007 Canada/Russia Super Series and played for the WHL team in the 2006 Canada-Russia Challenge.

The 6’3”, 206-pound blueliner collected 117 points (19 goals, 98 assists) in 260 games with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League (WHL) from 2004-2008 and was named the WHL Player of the Year and Defenseman of the Year in 2007-08.

Alzner was drafted by Washington in the first round (5th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Capitals Renew ECHL Affiliation with South Carolina Stingrays

Per the Washington Capitals Media Relations Department:

The Washington Capitals have renewed their affiliation agreement with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL for the 2011-12 season, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

“We are very pleased to extend our affiliation with South Carolina,” said McPhee. “The Stingrays are a first-class organization who give our prospects a great place to develop as professionals.”;

Six Capitals prospects spent some time with South Carolina in 2010-11, as the Stingrays finished the season with a record of 37-29-3-3 under head coach Cail MacLean. MacLean, a former forward who played for both South Carolina and Hershey, is attending the Capitals Rookie Development Camp.

2011-12 will mark the eighth consecutive season that the Capitals and Stingrays have been affiliated. South Carolina won the Kelly Cup in 2009, the same year that Hershey won the AHL’s Calder Cup.

“We are very excited to continue our affiliation with the Washington Capitals,” said South Carolina Stingrays President Rob Concannon. “Throughout the past seven seasons, we have seen many great prospects join our organization and develop into NHL-caliber players.”;

Six players who have played for South Carolina are currently under contract with Washington: Sean Collins, Braden Holtby, Patrick McNeill, Michal Neuvirth, Dustin Stevenson and Dmitry Kugryshev. Of those, Collins, Holtby and Neuvirth have all appeared at the NHL level with the Capitals. Holtby began the 2009-10 season with the Stingrays and represented South Carolina in the ECHL All-Star Game, the second straight season that a Capitals goaltending prospect appeared in that game (Michal Neuvirth).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Leonsis needs to stop marketing

At the National Press Club on Wednesday, Ted Leonsis made one very interesting comment regarding the Washington Capitals during his hour long talk. As highlighted by Michael Lee of the Washington Post, and the Associated Press.
“I do think our young players that form our core, led by Alex Ovechkin, it’s their time now,” Leonsis said. “They are not even in their prime.”
As I read this remark two words popped into my head.
Shut up.
I have been a strong supporter of Leonsis, George McPhee and Bruce Boudreau the last several years as fans have called for all of their heads.
I do believe that these three are the right trio to lead the Capitals to the franchises first Stanley Cup championship, and that belief was strengthened two weeks ago with the clubs free-agent acquisitions.
However, reading these comments caused me to think back to how Leonsis got himself into position to buy the Capitals in the first place.
Marketing.
Above all else, Ted Leonsis is a businessman. He built a Communications company to a level that American Online bought the company, and then helped turn AOL into a billion dollar a year company.
His marketing ability has been of great benefit to the Capitals as Leonsis sent out handwritten letters to season ticket holders asking them to be patient during the rebuilding process, and just before the start of the 2007-08 season publicly declared the rebuild to be over.
Leonsis’s marketing sense has reared its head, again.
According to Arctic Ice Hockey, the average points-per-game peak for a player is age 25 with the peak scoring ages being between 24 and 26
The Capitals core group is made up of Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Brooks Laich.
Laich is 28 and Semin is 27, while Ovechkin will be 26 before the season starts and Green will turn 26 during the first week of the season. Backstrom is the youngest of the core at 23 which leaves all six in, or very near the prime of their careers.
The “young guns” are no longer, with the exception of Backstrom, young. Ovehckin, Semin, Laich and Green have all been in the league for five full seasons, while Backstrom just finished his fourth, and all six have been in the playoffs four consecutive seasons.
The time is now for all the “core is still young,” excuses to stop. Now is the time for these guys to perform, especially since two of them have recently signed lucrative multi-year contracts.
Leonsis’s comment was made as a way to keep the media and the fan base happy. Both groups were very outspoken after the team was swept out of the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning, saying the culture within the locker needed to be changed, and that Boudreau, Green, and, or Semin needed to be fired or traded.
The Capitals just had the highest attendance of any season in franchise history this passed season as over 754,000 fans attended games, so Leonsis doesn’t want to lose that kind of attendance and support.
Leonsis has made it this far by knowing what the right move is and when to make it.
Well, the right move now is this. Stop making excuses. The core is in their prime, so it’s time to put up, or shut up.
The best thing for Teddy to do right now is shut up.

Capitals Sign Forward Jacob Micflikier

Per the Washington Capitals Media Relations Department:

The Washington Capitals have signed forward Jacob Micflikier to a one-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Micflikier, 27, recorded 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists) and 80 penalty minutes in 78 games last season with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native finished second on the team in goals and third in points. In addition, Micflikier appeared in 14 playoff games, collecting three points and six penalty minutes. In 193 career AHL games with Springfield, Rochester, Albany and Charlotte, Micflikier has registered 126 points (55 goals, 71 assists) and 126 penalty minutes.

The 5’8”, 180-pound forward has played 55 career ECHL games with Stockton and Florida, recording 93 points (29 goals, 64 assists) and 65 penalty minutes. In 12 career Kelly Cup playoff games with Stockton and Florida, he collected 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) and 18 penalty minutes.

Micflikier played four seasons at the University of New Hampshire, registering 150 points (58 goals, 92 assists) and 157 penalty minutes in 154 career games. Micflikier, who was named as an assistant captain in his senior year, helped UNH win the 2007 Hockey East regular season title. In his junior season, he was named UNH’s Most Valuable Player and led the team in scoring with 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists). Micflikier currently ranks 24th on the all-time scoring list at UNH.

Capitals Re-Sign Center Mathieu Perreault

Per the Washington Capitals Media Relations Department:

The Washington Capitals have re-signed center Mathieu Perreault to a one-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Perreault, 23, played in 35 games for the Capitals last season, collecting 14 points (seven goals, seven assists). He set career-highs in games played, goals, assists, points and penalty minutes (20). The 5’10”, 175-pound native of Drummondville, Quebec, also recorded 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 34 regular-season games and six points (three goals, three assists) in six playoff games for the Hershey Bears. He finished seventh on the team during the regular season in points despite playing in only 34 games.

Perreault, who wears No. 85 for Washington, registered 50 points (16 goals, 34 assists) and 34 penalty minutes in 56 regular season games with Hershey during the 2009-10 campaign. He helped lead the Bears to the Calder Cup championship with 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) and 18 penalty minutes in 21 playoff games. In addition, he collected nine points (four goals, five assists) and six penalty minutes in 21 games for the Capitals.

In 56 career NHL games with Washington, Perreault has registered 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) and 26 penalty minutes. Perreault was drafted by the Capitals in the sixth round (177th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Capitals Sign Right Wing Troy Brouwer

The Washington Capitals have signed right wing Troy Brouwer to a two-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Brouwer, 25, recorded 17 goals and a career-high 19 assists for 36 points in 79 regular-season games in 2010-11. He led the Blackhawks and ranked fifth in the NHL with 262 hits and finished third on the team with five game-winning goals. Brouwer appeared in all seven playoff games with Chicago, collecting 11 penalty minutes and finishing with a plus-two rating.

The 6’3”, 215-pound forward helped lead the Blackhawks to win the 2010 Stanley Cup while tallying a career-best eight points (four goals, four assists) in 19 playoff contests.

During the 2009-10 campaign, Brouwer registered a career-high 22 goals and 40 points in 69 games with the Blackhawks. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native ranked third on the club with a career-high seven power-play goals despite ranking seventh in power-play ice time. In 238 career NHL games with Chicago, Brouwer has recorded 103 points (49 goals, 54 assists).

Brouwer was originally drafted by Chicago in the seventh round (214th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Capitals Trade Goaltender Semyon Varlamov to Avalanche

The Washington Capitals acquired a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and a second round pick in the 2012 or 2013 NHL Entry Draft from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for goaltender Semyon Varlamov, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Capitals Sign Center Jeff Halpern to One-Year Contract

Per the Washington Capitals Media Relations Department:

The Washington Capitals have signed free agent center Jeff Halpern to a one-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Halpern, 35, played 438 games for the Capitals from 1999-2006 and captained the team during the 2005-06 season. The 5’11”, 198-pound center has recorded 214 points (87 goals, 127 assists) in his career with Washington, including a career-high 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) during the 2003-04 season. In 17 playoff games with the Capitals, Halpern has tallied four goals and five assists.

The Potomac, Maryland, native collected 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) in 72 games with the Montreal Canadiens last season. He logged the second-most shorthanded minutes (2:20) per-game amongst Canadiens forwards and helped lead the team’s penalty kill unit which ranked seventh in the NHL. Halpern also finished second on the team in faceoff percentage (56.9%) and registered one goal in four playoff games.

Halpern has collected 342 points (142 goals, 200 assists) in 792 career NHL games with Washington, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles and Montreal. In 34 career postseason playoff games, Halpern has recorded seven goals and six assists.

Halpern first joined the Capitals as an undrafted free agent on March 29, 1999, and made the NHL club as a rookie in 1999-2000.. He has represented the United States in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and five World Championships (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008). While in Washington, Halpern was an active member of the community, helping launch Halpern’s Hometown Heroes to benefit local charities.

Halpern played youth hockey for the Little Capitals and former captains Rod Langway and Dale Hunter were among his favorite players. He played junior hockey in Canada and prep school hockey in New Hampshire before enrolling at Princeton University in 1995-96. One of only four players to be named Princeton’s MVP three times, Halpern was the team captain as a senior. He finished his college career ranking first all-time at Princeton in games played (132), third in career points (141) and assists (81) and tied for fifth in career goals (60).