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First Round Notes and Quotes (Updated)

First off, here's a list of all of the trades. It was a crazy day, indeed.

*GM George McPhee said his scouts convinced him that Anton Gustafsson was "the guy" and that when he heard through the grapevine that other teams were planning to take him, he swooped in and made the deal with New Jersey to move up to No. 21.

McPhee also said that team doctors are not concerned about the back injury that limited the young Swede's playing time this season.

"He's real competitive," McPhee said. "He plays as hard as anyone. But we need to talk to him about scoring more goals. He seems to want to hit more than score."

Gustafsson is certainly the sentimental pick. Whether he was the right one, however, might not be known for some time. But as GM said, it doesn't hurt that he's the son of an accomplished NHLer and a national team coach.

*Anton, like most Swedes, speaks English very well and quickly proved he's got a good sense of humor, too. Asked how he stacks up against Dad, he joked: "I think I'm better than him. I'm a better skater. I have a better shot. He couldn't shoot."

At least I think he was joking.

*I was jammed up on deadline so I didn't get a chance to hear McPhee talk about John Carlson, or hear Carlson himself. Darn these four-hour long first rounds that begin at 7 p.m. Good for fans, bad for reporters on deadline.

*I did, however, manage to get Steve Eminger on the phone. He's happy about getting a new start. You may have noticed that I hinted a little earlier today in the comments section that I heard Eminger might be on the move today.

"It didn't hurt that the Flyers were the last team I played against," he said. "If there was one team I wanted to go to, that's it. It's hard to leave the friends that I've made in Washington. But hockey-wise, I needed a new start. And Philadelphia is the perfect place for it."

McPhee said of the trade: "We think he's an NHL player. But we didn't want to carry eight defensemen again because it's too difficult for everyone to operate that way. It's hard for the head coach because you know you have someone sitting out, and someone is unhappy. And it's hard on the players."

*Also, the Caps PR Staff -- Nate Ewell, Paul Rovnak and Kurt Kehl -- captured its second straight Dick Dillman Award as the Eastern Conference's top media relations crew. They've got the best game notes in the league and are very easy to work with. Congrats, guys.
That's it for now.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  June 21, 2008; 12:19 AM ET
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Next: Second Day Notes and Quotes


The pluses on Anton are large. The minus is his back - also large. The coin is in the air on this one.

I also see where TSN says that the Sens are taking steps to buy out Emery. That's a kiss of death to a career.

Also, that the NHL may force the NYR owners to sell over their accusation of antitrust law violations. The Ranger ownership accuses the NHL of forbidding teams from marketing products not licensed through the NHL. NHL has it's charter and ownership agreement to stand on. I'm guessing that MSG will back down or poison the well.

Posted by: Greg S. | June 21, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

the NHL-Rangers spat is wild, isn't it?

Posted by: Tarik | June 21, 2008 12:57 AM | Report abuse

eminger looked like he was bored with the capitals at a signing during the nhl awards show..
he didn't smile at all!
he sounds like he's happy to get away from the caps :/

Posted by: mae | June 21, 2008 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Of course he's happy to get away from the Caps. He wants to be on the ice, not in the press box where -- for whatever reason -- he spent the better part of the 07-08 season.

Posted by: Jill | June 21, 2008 2:48 AM | Report abuse

Think we got enough decent-good-awesome centers in the system? Jeez.

Can't have enough Swedes, though.

Posted by: Jordan | June 21, 2008 3:05 AM | Report abuse

The fact that Emi seems happy makes it easier to stand. However, I don't like him in a Flyers jersey. That still makes me sad. Oh well, another day, another deal. This is just another oddly run company trying to earn a buck. Hope he likes it in Philly. I just hope he doesn't play well against his former teammates.
Verdicts out on the two picks, but that's the beauty of draft day! Who needs instant gratification when there's years of wondering, hope, and frustration to nurture?

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | June 21, 2008 3:38 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Tarik--Could you possibly do a little reporting (if necessary; you probably already have the story) and tell us what in the world happened with Eminger this past season? The way he was handled was utterly bizarre, suggesting other than hockey considerations entered into the picture.

Posted by: Jim H | June 21, 2008 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Glad to see Eminger's getting a fresh start.

Posted by: TheCapitalist | June 21, 2008 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I am happy that we have another Gustafsson, but I'm sad that Tedenby went to NJ -- I think he would have been a good piece for us.

Now, though, I'm hoping against hope for Aaron Ness and Nicholas Deschamps. It'd be amazing to get both, but I can't see how that'd happen.

Colby Robak might be a good future Cap, too.

When does the 2nd round start? Anyone?

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | June 21, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

There are post-pick draft videos of McPhee, Carlson, and Gustafsson up on the Caps site.

Posted by: keef | June 21, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Philly trading away Umberger and then taking Eminger as a RFA -- near a wash in terms of cap space -- makes no sense. RJ is on the verge of a good NHL career whereas Eminger has not proven anything yet. I bet Eminger plays more in the minors for the Phantoms than for the Flyers or gets traded away (if anyone will take him). The Caps got the much better end of this deal. Here's hoping that Philthy doesn't make the playoffs next year.

Posted by: JIM | June 21, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Wow, the Panthers finally pulled the trigger on Jokinen.

Posted by: zamboni | June 21, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Jim, if Eminger plays mostly for the Phantoms, that's still a plus for him. He was stuck here in DC just because GMGM didn't want to risk losing him on waivers.

Posted by: tallbear | June 21, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Technically and operationally, Philly's side of the deals does make sense. Umburger is a Center, philly's strongest position. Umburger would cost them upwards of $2M per season - undoable after the rumored Carter Contract. They also cannot afford to resign most of their veteran D and may have to force Hatcher to retire just to get under the Cap. Emminger will cost them $1M.

In Plain value terms, it looks like Holmgren got took. But after signing Carter, Philadelphia is over the cap and needs the hockey equivalent of a tummy tuck just to get close to where their payroll needs to be.

Posted by: Old Bob | June 21, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse


Toward the end of the season you wrote that once Emminger left town you would explain what you knew about why he never played this season. I for one am anxious to read about that.

Posted by: California Caps Fan | June 21, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

@ Old Bob

The Cap is rising to 56m from what I've read, so are the Flyers that overcommitted already? I also think that Hatcher is done in Philthy. Eminger won't come too cheap; I believe that he is due for a payraise around 1.5 from the CBA an a RFA. I still don't see that much savings between Umberger and Eminger, unless Umberger is due for a payraise, too. I do feel sorry for Umberger being shipped to the NHL's eastern version of purgatory (Phoenix is the western version). I hope that Philthy is too tied up so they go the way of Tampa -- that'd be vengence now for their cheap playoff antics and their scummy fans.

Posted by: JIM | June 21, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Umberger actually plays as a winger in Philadelphia. He rarely returns to center outside of injuries or faceoff circle tosses.

Umberger has a reputation for being difficult to sign. He gave Brian Burke a tough time in Vancouver, wanting a salary equal to Ryan Kesler. Holmgren suggested a few weeks ago that negotiations were strainged, so it's not much of a surprise that Umberger found himself traded.

Posted by: The Frozen Fan | June 21, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Like most players outside of the top 5, no one really knows what to expect from either of these players. I guess we'll know in a few years. Trading to move up 2 spots is the only issue I had, but maybe there were rumors swirling?

As for Emminger, I liked him, he did a really good job late in the season for us. If anything his play allowed for a trade to happen. So thanks Emminger. I just wish he wasnt traded to Philly.

The draft is nice, but this draft doesnt mean much for us, now.

I want RFA and UFA signings.

Posted by: JSchon | June 21, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

California Caps Fans,

I didn't have much time to talk to Steve last night. But I hope to catch up with him again very soon.

Posted by: Tarik | June 21, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Now obviously you always have to take what McPhee says publicly with a grain of salt, however I think there's something telling in McPhee's comments about Eminger. He said they felt Eminger was an NHL player but didn't want to carry 8 defensemen again.

Firstly, that kind of thinking seems to back his comments about matching any Green offer sheet. Additionally, though I know there's not been an official proclamation, Pothier is done (its well known within the organization at this point). That means with Green you are talking about 6 defensemen returning (Green, Morrisson, Poti, Schultz, Jurcina and Erskine). That suggests to me the Caps are confident enough that one of Alzner or Lepisto is ready for full time NHL duty and the other is ready to fill in if injury occurs.

It doesn't make sense, given McPhee's comments, that the team would acquire another defensemen given the intent to give both Alzner and Lepisto a shot. And is Alzner or Lepisto struggles, you're looking at Erskine as your regular 6th d-man, and for a team looking to take another step forward that is troublesome to me. All that may not be huge news, but to me the general discussion has been solidified in the move of Eminger.

Tarik, are you hearing anything at the draft floating around about Green and offer sheets? I've heard something in the past few days about a Western Conference team preparing an offer sheet that they feel will be hard for the Caps to match. Just wondering if you are hearing anything...

Posted by: StikSav | June 21, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I love draft day.
Turning Emmy & a 2nd rounder into a 1st round pick and getting a big defenseman whose about to learn his trade from Dale Hunter was pure gold. Jesus, Tarik, how much luck was involved in that? Is GMGM just winging it or is he working a plan to perfection? a 1st rounder for a guy thats under-performed and got into only 20 games last year? McPhee is starting to seem more and more like Captain Jack Sparrow. Does he plan it out or make it up as he goes along?

Posted by: oo7 | June 21, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse


Sounds like the cap is going to come in around $54M now. Hatcher may be done in Philly, but he's got one year left, no one wants him and he'd need to retire to come off their books.

Umburger is due for a payraise, and should get between $2M and $2.5M. That said he could net as much as $3M per given the huge playoffs he had and that Columbus is going to use him as a key fan favorite given he's the first major player to have gone to Ohio State and end up playing for the Jackets. Umburger himself is a native of Pittsburgh and since he went to school in Columbus he's familiar with the are and on a team whose expectations is to make the playoffs with no excuses. Its a good fit all around.

Eminger will sign his qualifying offer (which I believe is $1.1M), so there's at least $1M saved by the Flyers who open a spot for a younger player to play on the 4th line and given themselves defensive depth (with questions about their older d-men now). Getting a third rounder with Eminger nets the Flyers decent return given the first rounder they gave up was a late round pick.

Posted by: Stik Sav | June 21, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

It's interesting to me to see comments on various message boards about McPhee looking better or becoming a new GM etc. after yesterday. I guess I don't get that. I posted the following on another board and it sums up my feeling right now (which is I see the same old GMGM we've known).

McPhee has had a history of trading well (for the most part). The recent history has shown he's done a decent job with picking in the first round, aside from Pokulok which was a curious pick at the time (going off the board for a kid who'd had injuries and was regarded as a project).

Yesterday McPhee made a good trade, netting a first rounder for Eminger and a third. With that pick he took a big defenseman with mobility and a big shot, something that is becoming a standard pick for McPhee (that's not a knock at all, just an observation).

The first first rounder was again a question mark and he traded up two spots to get a guy rated by most around 30-33 due to questions about his health. Curious not only that he picked Anton but that McPhee felt he had to deal up to get him. Yes, there apparently were whispers NJ themselves were considering Anton but we'll never really know. Similar to Pokulok, drafted higher, injury questions, and taken as there was rumor that Philly was going to go off the board to take him several picks later.

To me yesterday was a pretty typical McPhee day. It's today that will show if the organization is making progress in scouting and drafting (though for this draft class it will be 2-3 years before we know the answer to that question for this year).

Posted by: StikSav | June 21, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I am too lazy to look it up, but I believe that under the CBA, Emminger does not need to be offered a raise in a qualifying offer because he is already making $1M.

If the salary cap is $54M, Philly really has a lot of work to do if the Carter contract is really $5M per.

Philly cannot really force Hatcher to retire and still pay him unless he is hurt. I cannot imagine anyone short of that 1st round pick Colburne guy whose father made $90M last year who would walk away from a guaranteed contract. Even buying Hatcher out does not really gain them all that much. Once again, I don't know the rules, but they had a chance years ago to get rid of him without hurting themselves too much, but they didn't do it.

Posted by: Old Bob | June 21, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

wow you guys sure know a lot for a lot of bandwagon fans. just kidding.

when i think of philly, i think of the 2nd to last philly game in the playoffs at home...where the dumb philly girl kept yelling "bandwagon fans! bandwagon fans!" as an insult. even though i'm not a bandwagon fan i'd rather be a bandwagon fan than a fat female philly fan whose boyfriend and friend wouldn't stick up for her because she was an annoying slob.

best of luck to eminger.

Posted by: MNMNT | June 21, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I just wish eminger wasn't going to the flyers. they're horrible people with terrible fans.
I really hope we can get green and huet!! greenie is making me nervous :[

Posted by: mae | June 22, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

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