NHL Rumors: Washington Capitals

Trade intrigue increases as draft nears 

May, 23, 2014
May 23
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Even as the Stanley Cup playoffs continue, it's hard not to notice several situations that could produce a flurry of trade activity in the early offseason, particularly come the NHL draft.

In fact, Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill told USA Today's Kevin Allen he believes there could be "a lot of moves" made over the two-day draft in Philadelphia.

Allen's article notes seven teams who could be motivated to make a move, including the Florida Panthers, who hold the No. 1 overall pick and the only guarantee of selecting highly touted defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Add in the new GMs for the Vancouver Canucks, Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins (whoever those last two GMs turn out to be), who will likely look to re-shape the rosters that forced out their predecessors, and there should be no shortage of names on the trading block -- and some high profile names at that. Here's a look at some of the most prominent that have popped up recently, starting with one that won't be read until June 27:
Could the Washington Capitals' slow and methodical search for a general manager finally speed up following the firing of Ray Shero?

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Could the Washington Capitals be looking to make a big front office splash?

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, there is “mutual interest” between Ted Leonsis and Wayne Gretzky for the position of president of hockey operations, “which the owner has yet to commit to creating.”

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The ax finally fell in the nation’s capital over the weekend when general manager George McPhee and coach Adam Oates lost their jobs with the Washington Capitals, who failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

While team president Dick Patrick said they've already compiled an initial list of general manager candidates, it could be a while before we get to a decision.

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Links from around the rink: April 11 

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
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For six months, the St. Louis Blues cruised through the NHL season, never once losing three consecutive games and surpassing the Chicago Blackhawks atop the Central Division standings. Come the trade deadline, the Blues shored up their lone perceived weakness by adding goaltender Ryan Miller. Now on the threshold of a postseason in which St. Louis is expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup, it could all be falling apart at the worst possible time.

Thursday night marked the fourth straight loss -- the Blues' longest losing skid of the season -- this one coming at the hands of the Minnesota Wild, a potential first-round playoff opponent. But that scenario requires St. Louis to secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, which is far from a guarantee at the moment. As of Friday morning, the Blues stand level with the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division with 111 points through 80 games, one point back of the West-leading Anaheim Ducks. And the Avs own the regulation wins tiebreaker over the Blues as well. If the Blues do fall back to the No. 2 spot in the Central, they would face the reigning-champion Blackhawks in Round 1 of the playoffs instead of the Wild.

[+] EnlargeMiller
Mark Buckner/Getty ImagesRyan Miller has slumped of late for the Blues.
The road back to the top of the division won't be an easy one. Not with the current instability in the the St. Louis net (four goals allowed in each of their four recent losses). Miller's play has been particularly questionable of late. He was pulled after allowing four goals on just 13 shots Thursday night, and owns an .813 save percentage over his past three starts. Meanwhile, across the rink in the Wild crease, 30-year-old John Curry stopped 43 shots to earn his third career win.

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Fantasy Grapevine: Week 23 

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
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Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeni Malkin & Henrik SedinGetty ImagesFinding replacements for injured superstars is critical both in reality and in fantasy.
As is customary this time of year -- Olympics or no Olympics -- the long regular season is beginning to wear on NHL rosters. With the playoffs just around the corner, most NHLers are, to some degree, bruised, banged-up and/or justifiably bushed. It seems we can’t go more than a few hours without hearing of another significant injury. So while the Washington Capitals await word on the health status of Nicklas Backstrom, two other clubs are already working around losing their own game-changing centermen. All of whom happen to be valued fantasy assets.

Backstrom is considered day-to-day following his premature departure from Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings. On the upside, the 26-year-old forward was not subjected to the league’s mandatory concussion testing after enduring the nasty fallout from a Drew Doughty hit. Coach Adam Oates says Backstrom was held out from returning to the game for precautionary reasons. Many suspect he’s nursing a shoulder injury, and since the Capitals don’t play again until Saturday, there’s hardly cause for panic here.

On the other hand, while the Vancouver Canucks insist on declaring Henrik Sedin day-to-day, word has it the club’s captain is more likely to miss a couple of weeks with a suspected left leg/foot problem. That leaves maybe a game or two before the 2013-14 regular campaign wraps up for good. Owners fighting for fantasy supremacy -- especially in redraft leagues -- are advised to cut Henrik immediately. As a substitute, center Shawn Matthias could continue to get time on a line with Daniel Sedin and Nicklas Jensen.

Then we have the Pittsburgh Penguins, who seem fairly open about the latest injury to shelve Evgeni Malkin. Coach Dan Bylsma concedes Malkin will miss two to three weeks -- the rest of the regular season -- with a bad right foot. Again, if you want to make a final charge in your non-dynasty league, and there isn’t an IR slot available, drop the Russian center outright. Why not? Owners in deeper leagues may like to know that Brandon Sutter is pegged to replace Malkin on the second line with wingers Jussi Jokinen and James Neal.

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Fantasy Grapevine - Week 18 

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
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New York RangersAP PhotoMight we see Ryan Callahan wearing a different sweater this season?
Are the New York Rangers about to part ways with their captain? The latest scuttlebutt suggests we can add the name of Ryan Callahan to the growing list of potential trade candidates ahead of this season’s deadline. On Tuesday, ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun discovered contract talks between the pending UFA forward and the Rangers weren’t progressing all that smoothly:

"[This] led to some rumblings that the Rangers are exploring the trade market in case talks don’t produce a contract extension before the March 5 trade deadline ... You can imagine the reaction when Rangers GM Glen Sather called some teams over the past week to inform them that Callahan might be available. ‘That’s a pretty big name,’ one Western Conference source said."

It sure is. However, by recent scoring standards, Callahan is experiencing only a ho-hum season. Averaging 0.54 points per game on a line with Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin, Callahan is off his average mark of 0.73 points per game over the past three regular seasons. It won’t surprise you to know his ice time is down significantly, as well. Perhaps a change of scenery would inspire the 28-year-old winger to rediscover his productive magic of old.

Spoken for in 79 percent of ESPN.com leagues, Callahan hasn’t exactly charmed his fantasy owners in 2013-14.

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NHL Daily Links - Jan. 24 

January, 24, 2014
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With the Olympic trade freeze (Feb. 7) just around the corner and the official NHL deadline (Mar. 5) on the horizon, the potential for more wheeling and dealing grows by the day.

Forward Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers has been one popular target for such talk, to the point members of TSN’s Thursday broadcast panel suggested trading the 23-year-old winger would be the best move for the Oilers (although Darren Dreger recommended the team wait until the offseason). However, both GM Craig MacTavish and owner Daryl Katz have insisted they have no interest in moving Eberle.

Other current chatter features the case for trading defenseman Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, and why dealing defenseman Kris Letang might not be such a lousy idea for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Also, ESPN Insider Craig Custance expands on the upside of trading for F/D hybrid Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets. The next few weeks should be good fun for those who relish a meatier variety of trade talk.

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NHL Daily Links - Jan. 21 

January, 21, 2014
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When Steve Mason agreed to a contract extension over the weekend, it eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers as a potential buyer for a goaltender after the season. Our Craig Custance takes a look at how recent transactions involving prominent goalies will impact the summer market for netminders.

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NHL Daily Links - Jan. 6 

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
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With the trade deadline less than two months away, the Pittsburgh Penguins' Ray Shero does not like a GM looking to rent a player, says Rob Rossi. As of last week, Rossi says Shero and Winnipeg's Kevin Cheveldayoff had not talked about Evander Kane, who has four years left on a contract that counts $5.25 million annually against the salary cap.

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NHL Morning Links - Dec. 17 

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
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Forward Shawn Thornton is opting to roll the dice. According to the player’s agent and the NHLPA, the Boston Bruins veteran is appealing his 15-game suspension for attacking Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik on Dec. 7. Next up is a hearing with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. If the suspension still sits at six games or more after Bettman makes his call, Thornton can then take his appeal to an independent arbitrator. Of course, Thornton also runs the risk of seeing his suspension increased. TSN legal analyst Eric Macramalla suggests odds are slim the punishment is altered by either the commissioner or, if it gets that far, a neutral authority. Also, Macramalla proposes the entire process should pass rather quickly.

As for Orpik (concussion symptoms), there’s word the Penguins defenseman is feeling better. Welcome news, considering how devastated the Pens’ blue line is by injury. While Kris Letang (undisclosed upper-body injury) and Rob Scuderi (broken ankle) aren’t due back until after the Christmas break, Paul Martin (broken leg) isn’t scheduled to return until mid-January. ESPN Insider Craig Custance looks into whether the Penguins can keep up their winning ways with some many key figures hurt. Forward Evgeni Malkin is also listed as day-to-day.

In other suspension-related news, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Corey Potter has been told to sit out two games for boarding forward Nick Bonino of the Anaheim Ducks. And Deryk Engelland (Penguins) has an in-person hearing with the NHL's discipline department set for Wednesday after elbowing Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader in the jaw.

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NHL Morning Links - Dec. 6 

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
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After Thursday’s frightening scene in Montreal, news that Johnny Boychuk was cleared to fly home with his team is most welcome. The Boston Bruins defenseman was unable to get up off the ice on his own after being hit into the boards by Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. Boychuk was eventually stretchered off and taken to hospital. According to Bruins forward Jarome Iginla, Boychuk suffered a back injury when he was hit. In any case, the valued D-man will likely miss a fair amount of time. General consensus is Pacioretty won’t receive supplemental discipline from the league for the hit. The forward was handed a two-minute minor penalty at the time of the infraction.

The Detroit Red Wings can’t seem to get far ahead of the game on the injury front. Shortly after hearing that Pavel Datsyuk was nearing return, word emerged of the latest injury to hobble Darren Helm. The center is ruled out for the weekend with a suspected shoulder strain or sprain. While Stephen Weiss is favored to center the Red Wings’ second line in place of Helm, a returning Todd Bertuzzi could sub in (for Weiss) on the top unit with Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist. But coach Mike Babcock hasn’t promised anything.

Coach Alain Vigneault thinks all of his defensemen stink except Ryan McDonagh. Ok, maybe that wasn’t exactly what the New York Rangers coach said recently, but he definitely wants a greater effort from his corps of blueliners. Vigneault wasn’t shy about his preference for John Moore over Michael Del Zotto either. You get the sense Del Zotto wouldn’t see any action at all these days if he wasn’t being flaunted for a trade.

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NHL Morning Links - Dec. 2 

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
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It was a disastrous holiday weekend for the New York Islanders, who lost three home games in four days and are 2-10-1 in their last 13.

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Fantasy Grapevine - Week 9 

November, 27, 2013
11/27/13
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Martin Erat, John-Michael LilesGetty ImagesMartin Erat and John-Michael Liles may both get a change of scenery soon.
Now that the leverage-less Washington Capitals have little choice but to trade a disenchanted Martin Erat, where does the 32-year-old end up?

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun proposes the Vancouver Canucks are among a gaggle of teams intrigued by the idea of dealing for the proven winger. The point is, there is interest. And, wherever he lands next, Erat's fantasy value is set to grow considerably.

A square peg that never fit comfortably into coach Adam Oates' lineup template of round holes, Erat stands an excellent chance of reclaiming his productive touch elsewhere. History tells us as much. This is a guy who succeeded in putting up good numbers, consistently, for the Nashville Predators (not the most explosive team on offense, right?) over nearly eleven seasons. That talent and skill set combo doesn't just dissolve overnight.

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NHL Morning Links - Nov. 26 

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
8:46
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The lockout last season wiped a full slate of games off the November schedule, which may have been good news for the New York Islanders. The Islanders are 4-8 this month and 9-22-5 in their past three combined Novembers. ESPN Insider’s Craig Custance asks if Jack Capuano’s squad has enough left to salvage the season.

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