Last week, we took a look at the Washington Capitals’ needs going into the draft weekend. One week later, it’s time to take a look and how the team fared:
- Get a Head Coach: It’s not official just yet, but the chatter would indicate that Todd Reirden is very, very close to becoming the next Capitals new head coach. While it would have been nice to make the announcement a little sooner, this has the feel of a very controlled move that is part of the status quo. Not having a head coach in place didn’t stop the Caps from re-shaping their roster and getting better in the process.
- Trade Philipp Grubauer’s Rights: The Caps did this and a whole lot more, shipping the netminder out West to the Colorado Avalanche and sending Brooks Orpik with him. Keeping Grubauer out of the division is important, and shedding Orpik’s $5.5 million cap hit was a masterstroke from GM Brian MacLellan. Making room for other key signings was paramount in MacLellan’s decision.
- Draft a Forward with Offensive Upside: Washington went in a different direction with their first-round pick, taking defenseman Alex Alexeyev. While not a forward, Alexeyev is a smooth-skating puck-carrier who plays a low-risk game while contributing offense from the blue line. The pick continues a Caps tradition of selecting the best player available, regardless of his position. Alexeyev has plenty of upside and there weren’t many high-end forwards available at the end of the first round, so it’s hard to judge the Caps too harshly for this selection.
- Figure out What to Do with John Carlson: The Caps made an emphatic decision in regards to Carlson, inking the defenseman to an 8-year deal with an $8 million cap hit. It’s a high salary, but Carlson has proved he’s worth the money and should be a stabilizing force on the backend for at least five more years, possibly six. The Caps also re-signed Devante Smith-Pelly to a team-friendly deal, which makes their pursuit of Michal Kempny much easier.
All in all, it was a solid week for the Caps. They made moves to keep their roster intact, while freeing up salary cap space for the present and future. Free agency is only a few days away, and while the Caps don’t expect to be major players on the open market, they do have the flexibility to make moves to improve their chances at a repeat Stanley Cup championship.