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With summer development camp over, the slowest part of the hockey calendar is officially upon us. I'm not expecting much in the way of news in the coming weeks, other than a handful of restricted free agents re-signing and a couple of salary arbitration hearings.

That's probably a good thing for all of us. It's time to recharge those batteries. After all, training camp really isn't that far off.

I'll be in and out over the next few days, but, as always, will update should any news break.

In the meantime, please feel free to discuss Caps-related topics in the comments section below.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  July 16, 2007; 9:56 AM ET
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Next: Second Wave of Free Agency



Also, thanks Tarik for all the extra coverage this last week or so. For a Caps, hockey starved fan in Italy it has been great.

Olie the Goalie for President!!!

Posted by: Icarus | July 16, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Ditto from a fan in Japan (felt the two earthquakes today, by the way - some fun).

It seems to me the one piece of "unfinished" business with the Caps is another solid d-man. Wasn't the talk a few weeks ago that GMGM would trade some of our prospects for a serious #1 D? When will we pull the trigger on that (if at all)?

Posted by: tokyo fan | July 16, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

The next two months are going to be very boring but I will be on vacation part of the time and when I get back there will only be a month to go before training camp starts. Tarik can you confirm that the 1st on ice session will be September 14th.

Posted by: 4capitals | July 16, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

For all those clamoring for a #1 D, through some names out there that you would be interested in. I just don't view that many #1 D's available, or in the NHL. So I think a desire for a Pronger, etc. is probably in for a big disappointment.

I think someone mentioned in another thread about most teams not having a true #1 D and used SC champs Tampa and Carolina as perfect examples of teams without a traditional #1 D.

I think the team needs another top 4 defensemen, but I doubt we will get a true #1 as there aren't many and even fewer are available.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | July 16, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I think we have an interesting pool of defensemen here and lots of competition. I think we give them another year to battle for icetime and if things look bleak we go after another solid defender next offseason.

Posted by: cd | July 16, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

every d-man we need for the next five years at least is on the team or in the system, bottom line.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, any word on how the Ovechkin signing may be coming along or not?

Thanks for the great coverage!

Posted by: Chris | July 16, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

every d-man we need for the next five years at least is on the team or in the system, bottom line.

Posted by: | July 16, 2007 12:30 PM

I agree 100%. Poti was a #1 man Pothier now becomes a #2, and with less ice time, he'll be much better cause he'll have his legs. We'll be fine on D.

Posted by: Go Skins Go | July 16, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the above posters saying we are in decent shape on D (and have a whole lot more developing in the pipeline). That said, if the Caps are in the playoff hunt come the trade deadline we can surely trade some of our excess picks in the 2008 draft, and/or a prospect or two, to pick up a veteran d-man for the stretch run.

Posted by: Jeff | July 16, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I for one am glad to see that our young guys will have another year to make it in the NHL. I think the minutes that Poti can play will go a long way in taking pressure off of guys like Green and Schultz.
I have always felt the Caps didn't have enough room on the roster for prospects to have a decent shot at making the team. They have always tried to fill rolls with the likes of Jeff Toms that should have been filled by talent the Caps drafted. Now we have depth and hope for the future IMHO. Now if OV would just skate a little this summer we can all sleep a bit easier ;)
...Tarik, thanks for the updates!

Posted by: MinorTthreat | July 16, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Jeff Toms! There's an old name.

A Jeff Toms fact: he scored the game winning goal in overtime in the first game at the then MCI Center - was against Florida, and the Beezer was in the net, I believe.

Posted by: Mike | July 16, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Mike, you are correct about Toms. I was there, too - what a great night!

Posted by: On Ice | July 16, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

wasnt there but i remember vividly, also remember, embarrassingly so, reading way too much into the career potential of jeff toms after that. lets just say i thought he was the 'missing piece'

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse


How 'bout this:


This leaves out Bradley, Clymer, Brashear, Laich and Klepis.

I can't see why Bradley and Clymer would be back; what exactly do they offer that no one else on the team does?

In theory, Brashear and Laich will see time on the third and fourth lines.

Klepis is in a rough spot -- he doesn't belong on a checking line, so if he can't score with the big boys than he's toast.

Of course I think it's VERY possible that Bouchard will be returned to juniors, opening up a spot. And it's also possible that Fleischmann's not ready for prime time. I'm sure Bradley and Clymer are hoping for that!

AND you could obviously put Kozlov up into one of the top two right wing slots, especially if Bouchard's gone.

Should be interesting. What do you think?


Posted by: Oneal | July 16, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

The Line game:

It looks like you went with the idea of spreading the scoring talent out amoungst the lines.

I would go with:

Ovechkin Nylander Clark
Semin Kozlov Pettinger
Bouchard Backstrom Fleischmann

No way do I start Kozlov on anything lower than the second line even if it's not center. Backstrom should fit in well w/ Bouchard and Fleischmann and will work his way to playing on the first and second lines and on the power play the better he does. There isn't any sense talking about the 4th line because it would just be changing so much anyway.

Posted by: capfan1 | July 16, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Kozlov is going to be playing anything other than RW. I can't remember where I read it, but the article(s) pretty much stated he was signed to be a RW. If that's the case then you have Nylander and Backstrom as your top 2 C's, and the next C on the depth chart is likely Gordon to center the 3rd (checking) line.

I think the real question is whether management will be comfortable spending almost a million bucks on guys like Clymer, Bradley and Brashear and scratch them. If they do, then some of the young guys getting press lately may get a spot. But at the same time I wouldn't be surprised to see a 3rd line of Pettinger/Gordon/Clark (or Sutherby if Clark stays on one of the top 2 lines) and a 4th line including 2 of the Clymer/Bradley/Brashear list.

Posted by: Jeff | July 16, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

capsfan, the only way those combinations are going to happen is on your playstation (hopefully) by the way, pettinger plays LW

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

From seeing hershey 60 regular season, and every playoff game this year, I'll say this, Steckel needs to be 4th line, a little bit of offense, but an amazing PKer, him and Boyd Gordon on a line would be sick. Fleischmann definitely deserves to be in Washington, and has the talent to be in Washington, but, he seemed to have a lot of confidence issues in DC... same with Jakub Klepis, who had an amazing NHL preseason last year, but faded, came to AHL and lit it up again. I think training camp will be full of suprises for the whole organization, and some upsests as far as who makes the Caps, and who gets sent to the AHL.

Posted by: Dan Nelson | July 16, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Klepis is too soft, even at the AHL level. I don't think he has the guts to mix it up and get in position to score the tough goals. At least 80% of goals are rebounds and deflections, and he doesn't seem to be tough enough to mix it up down low. The guy from Hershey who needs to finally get his look is Chris Borque. I know he's small, but he can play, and he's an excellent passer and specialty teams player, something the caps desperately need.

As for the line game I'd go


As for the D, i'm excited to see what another year of experience does for Schultz and especially Mike Green (maybe someone told him to stop passing in front of his own net). Poti is a big improvement, and we can finally get rid of Muir who just sucks.

Posted by: Danny | July 16, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Here's an interesting topic...
MCI/VC has been open 10 years and the food service has yet to be fixed.
Courtesy of the 'Flashback' Dec 4, 1997...

"The day after the Washington Wizards defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in the arena's first contest, center officials met to see what needed adjusting. At the top of the list was traffic -- inside the $200 million building, not outside.

Choke points developed at a few corners, hallways and concession stands. Hundreds of hungry fans waited as much as 30 minutes for Papa John's pizza, which sold 4,000 of its 10-inch pies. To shorten the lines, Papa John's installed heating ovens yesterday where it can store just-baked pizzas for a few minutes."

When are they gonna take care of the "choke points" and 30 min. food waits? It was the top of the list?

I'd hate to see the bottom of that list. The muffled cries of Jim Carey stuck in a storage room deep within the center can probably still be heard.

Posted by: slappy | July 16, 2007 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I find it odd no one is putting Kozlov on the first line. I'm guessing it's his size and skill and (hopefully) chemistry with Ovechkin is why they signed him. Granted anything can happen, but I'm guessing on paper he's going to be first line. Then the question is if Clark can still play finisher on the second scoring line-- or does he join the grinding line.

Posted by: GJ | July 16, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I always put Kozlov on the first line
Ovechkin - Nylander - Kozlov
Semin - Backstrom - Whoever
Pettinger - Gordon - Clark

Posted by: Finn | July 16, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm ambivalent on the "Kozlov on the first line" issue.

I am all for getting more offense, and more chemistry up there. And for years I've worried that the Caps seem to value "grinding" more than they value scoring!

But Clark did put up 30 goals last year, and when he's on the ice Ovechkin doesn't have to worry as much about defense. That's why I put him up there. If Kozlov can work with OV and Nylander, maybe Clark can be the experienced guy to work with Semin and Backstrom.

Glad to see that everyone's enjoying the game!


Posted by: Oneal | July 16, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

if youre going to put kozlov on the first line you must have clark on the second. whos going to do the dirty work, semin? backstrom? while i think clark on the third line with petty and gordon would be one of, if not the best in the league, fehr, flash or bouchard would have to come on very strong and take the rw spot hands down on one of the first two lines, which im hoping for but might be difficult. i love the idea of at least three lines that can legitimately score, a la buffalo(R.I.P.)


1st line rw is a tough choice, but clark is at his best with ovy
at this point im more excited and impressed(ignorance is bliss)with bouchard than with either fehr or fleischmann...
...which is why laich is somewhat of a default winner of fourth line rw duties, because if either F's make the team and stick full time it wont be on the fourth line

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

still not happy with that fourth line though, and part of me thinks laich may not even be here come opening night. As far as brashear goes, i almost feel like he is wasting a spot that could be used to develop a youngster, but at the same time he does have an important role and i had to put him there because i know for sure he will be.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad someone mentioned Bourque. I've been wondering what the Caps' plans are for him. We spent a high draft pick to get him and he wasn't part of the rookie developement camp, so isn't it time for him to crack the lineup? Or was it a wasted pick?

And keep Brashear - he's Ovie's insurance policy.

Posted by: tokyo fan | July 16, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

The food @ MCI is the worse in the Sports.
I wouldn't mind paying the prices if there were actually variety & taste.

I've been to Staples & that has by far the best food. Why does DC keep insisting on being a 2nd rate sports town?

Rant over.

Posted by: Victor | July 16, 2007 11:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the observation that every D-Man we need is either on our current Caps roster, or some of the youngsters we saw over the past week. I think we'll see some surprises with cuts/trades & some of the young guys pushing some of the old guys in September. By the time pre-season rolls around, we'll be ready.

Posted by: Doug | July 16, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Chris Clark scored 30 goals last year, why demote him to third line? He may not be flashy, but he gets the job done. I think putting a big guy like Kozlov on a line with Semin and Backstrom makes that second line tougher to push around.

As for Brashear, I think he fills a big need for the Caps and does his job as a checking forward very well, I just don't want to ever see him out there on the power play again...

I think Borque has been around long enough to not need to be at the development camp, the Caps know what they have with him, I just hope he gets a shot at training camp or at some point this season.

Posted by: Danny | July 17, 2007 1:03 AM | Report abuse

In response to the Bourque issue, I've read a few times the Caps want him to develop another year before he gets a "serious" look to come up... and rightfully so. He has improved a whole lot in the past two years, but, he does need some work.
Checking-great, keep it up.
Passing-needs to know when to pass and when to hold, could use some descision making improvements. Recieving passes isn't a plus. Seems uncomfortable playing the point on the powerplay, but is stuck there anyway, fumbles the puck a lot back there...(opinion: would be better suited playing up front on the PP)
Shooting- Slapshot accuracy needs work, 1/15 shots maybe hit the net, goes high right an awful lot...but a wicked release. Wristshot has an amazing release, really should use it more.
Skating- Amazing speed, rough stops sometimes, not bad
Overall game- B
Just my little scouting report on him... if anyone finds this useful, and needs any more info on Bears guys, just ask, or e-mail

Posted by: Dan Nelson | July 17, 2007 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Line combinations?
Hanlon hasn't shown he can keep the same line combo's for a whole game!
You say mine only work on PStation? I'll bet those exact line combo's happen at some point next year.

I have been very critical of the caps management, but I actually do believe if Bouchard, or any other player is better than say Sutherby, Klepis, Laich the list goes on and on they will play them.

Unfortunately there are many players such as Gordon, Sutherby, Laich, Klepis, Fehr that we don't know where they will be because so far they have only shown glimpses of future playing abilities. Our second line center (Backstrom) is an unproven rookie?
That tells you how thin we are at skilled offensive players.
I think we are putting too much emphasis on Ovie being set up and Nylander is going to help him w/ that. Ovie isn't the type of player that needs to be set up. He is a pure goal scorer and most of the time creates chances by himself.
Semin, Kozlov and some of the younger guys would benefit from Nylander more than Ovie.

Posted by: capfan1 | July 17, 2007 2:19 AM | Report abuse

first of all, gordon has solidified his place as the third line center so im not sure what you mean when you lump in into the group of players who have shown glimpses, same with sutherby to some degree. and ill say it again, pettinger plays LW. i guess my point is that, well how do i say this, youre wrong, again/still

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

The news I like to hear before training camp is that AO has signed a long term extension.

Posted by: Stan | July 17, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I think you've got to have Clark on the second line. Nylander is fairly responsible and Ovechkin has been playing long enough that he has to be ready to protect his own end. Those two guys will be fine with Kozlov.

Semin and Backstrom, on the other hand, can't be expected to take care of business on both ends -- one because of temperament and the other because he's a rookie. Clark is a very solid checker and would be the conscience of that line. They need him there to free Semin and Backstrom up to be creative.

I'd keep Semin, Backstrom and Clark together full time to give Backstrom stability and confidence in his linemates (although maybe you switch Alexes every once in a while to let him play with AO). I'd swap young skill players like Fleischmann and Fehr up into the first line for a few shifts every game, moving Kozlov down to the 3rd line, to give them a chance to shine. But for the most part, the top 6 should be:

Ovechkin - Nylander - Kozlov
Semin - Backstrom - Clark

Posted by: MS in SF | July 17, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

agree that ovechkin does not need to be set up and really think nylander should be second-line center. backsstrom is unproven rookie, still think caps need first-line center.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse

i also agree that ovechkin and kozlov should play together,as far as who plays center, there are still some free agents who i feel fit in with them. yashin and stefan come to mind, with semin-nylander-clark on the 2nd line. i also think clark had a career season and caps fans should not expect another 30 goal season.if the caps put together 2 solid lines i think the young guys should have their shot with pettinger-backstrom-and either fehr or fleischman on the 3rd line. as for the dmen i still dont think erskine does not get the respect that he deserves, i see poti and mo, erskine-green, schultz and starting the season eminger,but if he plays poorly we need to look elsewhere

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

are you kidding me, we still need to sign a #1 center? so yashin or stefan would be an upgrade over nylander? way off base here. NEWS FLASH: nylander was signed to center ovechkin, and it will be that way until backstrom earns that spot. gordon is the third line center, end of story.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

i think nylander was what was left and the caps missed the boat,since they signed nylander, i think it would have made more sense to r-sign zubrus who already has chemistry with ovechkin, put nylander with semin to solidify that line and take pressure of of backstrom and create more mismatches with other teams,even so nylander had a career year last year and yes iwould take yashin over nylander and maybe stefan,but stefan has something to prove, he has the potential,just needs to apply it

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

had a career year that was not overly impressive

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

had a career year that was not overly impressive

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

and i would have taken comrie over nylander anyday,like i said,more of an upside with comrie

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

i also understand that nylander was signed to center ovechkin, but to make the playoffs, i think the caps still need a #1 center, i dont see them making the playoffs with the moves that they made; i like them,but still think there is more to do

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

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