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It's Official: Finley Moved to Forward

As you may have noticed on the Caps' rookie camp roster that was released last night, Joe Finley, a 6 foot 7, 245-pounder who was drafted as a defenseman, is listed as a forward for rookie camp, which begins Monday at KCI.

The team first tried Finley at forward on the last day of development camp. While the move still is in its experimental phase, it's obvious the team is serious about seeing whether the 2005 first round draft pick can make the transition - and perhaps more importantly, jumpstart his career.

Finley, who graduated from North Dakota, said he doesn't remember the last time he played forward, but is willing to do whatever it takes.

"Just for myself, I'm not thinking too much about it," said Finley, who likely will find himself battling for a spot in Hershey in the coming weeks. "I just want to go out and work hard, whether I'm, playing forward or defense, and work hard and do everything I can to make a good first impression."

Coach Bruce Boudreau first broached the idea with Finley in during a meeting in July. Boudreau asked Finley to prepare over the summer as if he would be making the difficult-but-not-unheard-of switch.

"It's just going through situations in my head and knowing what I'm responsible for in the defensive zone and getting accustomed to playing that way," Finley said. "It's been a long time. I can't really recall the last time. Maybe in a summer league or something. Hey, it's still summer and I'm playing forward, so I'll just continue working at it and doing whatever what is asked of me."

One has to wonder if "doing whatever is asked" also involves honing his skills as a fighter, something Finley doesn't shy away from. He got into his first fight as a pro on the second shift of his debut in Hershey.

"We told him we wanted to try him at forward and we wanted him to go back to North Dakota to practice as a forward," Boudreau said. "We want to see how much that has improved because I asked him on the last day [of development camp]. Now he's had a couple of months."

Beginning first thing in the morning, Finley will get his first chance to show Boudreau how the transition is coming along.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  September 6, 2009; 11:06 AM ET
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Next: Rookie Camp Kicks Off


6'7'' and not afraid to use it.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 6, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Finley the new Brashear? Hope he has a good camp.

Posted by: whiteltng | September 6, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

its interesting that the Caps have already given up on Finley as a defenseman. He's only played in one professional game so far. Weird. They must have seen something in camp that showed them he has no capacity to play defense. That will also affect the Hershey roster this year since they already have Sugden and Grant McNeill playing that role.

Posted by: cstanton1 | September 6, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Guess I have a different take on it. Finley's clearly shown that he's a goon, and many coaches feel better starting their goons at F, where there's more in-game depth. So you either continue to play Finley at defender, play him in the AHL or ECHL and hope he develops self-control and a tad more speed (3years ETA, at least), or you switch him to forward and play him as a goon, where he's needed ASAP.

Plus we're pretty deep on d.

Posted by: C-way | September 6, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

The reason he has moved to forward is because he is slow. I guess there is one of those future defensemen of the Caps not making it to the NHL as a d-man.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | September 6, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

or it could be that we have enough depth at d that we can experiment w/ finley at forward. was he going to make the nhl roster this year at d? not likely. i think he will end up in hershey no doubt, but called up if things get rough w/out brash.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | September 6, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Guess I have a different take on it. Finley's clearly shown that he's a goon, and many coaches feel better starting their goons at F, where there's more in-game depth. So you either continue to play Finley at defender, play him in the AHL or ECHL and hope he develops self-control and a tad more speed (3years ETA, at least), or you switch him to forward and play him as a goon, where he's needed ASAP.

Plus we're pretty deep on d.

Posted by: C-way | September 6, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

GEEZ, what a waste of a pick if that's the case... a first round pick as a GOON???

Posted by: joek443 | September 6, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

there have been some really tall guys (6'6" or taller) in the NHL but just about all of them that I can think of have been defensemen.

if you think about it, being tall really doesn't help you that much as a hockey player. What helps a hockey player, especially d-men is having a long reach that goes with being tall. that's why d-men usually use longer hockey sticks.

Posted by: joek443 | September 6, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Why y'all gotta be haters on your own guys? If you treat your friends like that, I'd rather be your enemy. Did anyone else watch any of the scrimmages at development camp? Joe Finley was moved to forward during development camp, because of the depth of D on the roster and because AnGus and SDR were both hurt. White team was running short on forwards. It turned out to be a pretty cool experiment, cool enough to be worth keeping. When he was moved to forward, he looked much more comfortable and ready to go, and was hard-charging, forechecking aggressively, and creating scoring chances. That's why they kept the move. We've got lots and lots of D, but a big guy who forechecks hard, hits hard, and creates an intimidating presence on the ice? I can't think of an overwhelming glut of those, and putting him at F turns that loose.

As for big guys like that always being on D ... and? Your point is? GMGM is thinking outside the box a little, just to see if it works. I liked what I saw in that scrimmage where they tried it, enough that I want to see more.

Remember also that if you've got a guy who is willing and able to throw down and run people over, it's better to have a forward doing that so that when he ends up in the box with a fighting major, your D pairings are not disrupted.

Posted by: kittypawz | September 6, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

LMAO I'm all for thinking outside the box if I had a group defensemen that included the likes of Langway, Murphy, Stevens, etc...

have I missed something? the last time I saw the Caps when they actually played a game that COUNTS, they couldn't clear my granpa out of their own crease. Now they suddenly have too many quality defensemen who can do the job. I'm all for being optimistic, but I'm also for being realistic.

Posted by: joek443 | September 6, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

In a very wierd way, in a very wierd "think outside the box" way, the move of big Joe Finley to forward reminds me of when the Chicago Bears occasionally would use William "The Refrigerator" Perry, who was normally a defensive linesman, as a fullback in a running situation. Perry, for those old enough to remember, was a big massive linesman on the Chicago Bears around the time Ovi and my first child were born. (BTW, Perry is an alum of my younger daughter's college, Clemson U.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 6, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse


On our guys being unable to clear the crease in a game that counted, I hope for better health for them. During the Pens series, we had 2 defensemen with broken feet (Erskine and Poti), one with a damaged shoulder (Green), Morrisonn was playing hurt(don't recall the specific injury) and Schultz was out due to injury. Which left 2 defensemen that were healthy (Jurcina and Pothier) and the latter had only come back from a concussion in late March. So we're talking 66% of our D playing hurt. I know Gonchar had a bad knee. Still, somehow I doubt if the Pens' defense was anywhere as banged up as our guys.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 6, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Moving Finley to forward is no different than what chicago did with Dustin Byfuglien. Only difference was he was drafted in the eight round and our guy was drafted in the first round. As much spin selling we would like to do here clearly finley is not a shut down D in the eyes of management. If he was the caps would roll the red carpet out for him. Byfuglien has exceled in his new role and was really good in the playoffs. So lets see what happens. Finley on the powerplay screening the goalie could be dynamic.

Posted by: samb99 | September 6, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The future is now.

Posted by: C-way | September 6, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

They're just "trying" him at forward. With the offensive talent we have there, I don't see much of a chance of him all of the sudden taking off there.

Posted by: gonchpup | September 6, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse


To quote George Allen, former Redskins coach and father of former VA governor George Allen.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 6, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Where Finley was drafted should have no bearing on how he gets used. You don't force a guy to play defense just because you spent a #1 pick on him and he was a defenseman in college. A smart organization puts the pieces together how they best fit NOW. Given cap space, having a guy like Finley or Della Rovere as your 14th forward, and used situationally, makes sense. Just like it makes complete sense to keep Sloan as d-man #7 (rather than risk waivers). I can really see the caps making a minor move to swap either Bourque or Aucoin so you can have a "goon" on the roster for some key games like vs Flyers. There's regular season and then there's playoffs. For regular season, you need to send a message. One MESSAGE that needs to be sent the first time we play, is someone needs to paste Pronger's face into the glass so hard that his gap teeth leave a bite mark. Then, later in the game, it should be done AGAIN. While Pronger skates to the bench, bent over and groaning, Green can look at him and sneer.

Joe "Toro" Finley: Come on down and earn your money.

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 6, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

BTW, from the other thread, it is really great that a young person like Mike Green builds his "dream crib" just down the street apparently from the hockey rink. This says a lot for Mike himself; the Caps organization; the city of DC; and Abe Pollin's decision on where to put the new facility. (You never heard about players building near the Cap Centre, did you?)

Sometimes in life it is wise to step back and look at the big picture. We have here a young man from Calgary. Have any of you been there? I haven't, but I'm guessing it's similar to places like Denver and Albuquerque, although probably nicer. A large city set against the Rockies. DC is about as far from that as you can get. And he likes it in DC. Think: Our Caps players, from Canada and Russia, like it in DC. That's great. Living in Baltimore for like 30 years, I never got to downtown DC much. Would I want to live there? Doubt it. The only two big cities I liked enough, that much, have been Manhatten and San Francisco. Otherwise, I much prefer the wide open spaces like you get just outside of - Calgary. (Which is why my retirement property is in the Arizona desert.)

I am glad Mike Green likes DC enough to call it home. I hope he and Ovie and Backie and Brooks Laich and others on the team get together and have themselves a good ol' time. And I hope these guys and a few others like Brads and Stecks and some even younger guys stay with the Caps forever. They have the nucleus of greatness.

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 6, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Sorry tominfl1, no way Finley sees the light of day in Washington this season. He is a project who will spend the next year or two with Hershey and may even spend time with South Carolina in the ECHL.

I guess we can add him to the list of great draft picks by GMGM in the 2004-2005 entry draft (can't blame the ping pong balls for this utter disaster of a draft class) with the likes of Sasha Pokulok, Andrew Thomas, Patrick McNeill, Daren Machesney,and Viktor Dovgan

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | September 6, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

@tom.......The players almost always live near the practice facility. When they used Mt Vernon years ago, most of them live in Alexandria and hung out in Old Town, I know, I drank with them often, but once Pinney Orchard was the Facility they all moved over to Maryland, now most live in Arlington, close by Kettler. I can not tell you where they hang out now, I used to be same age as the players. The players are the same age, but something has changed.

Posted by: RichC3 | September 6, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Also, it wasn't Pollin that put up Kettler, it was Leonsis.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | September 6, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

freakin: My suggestion isn't that Finley be necessarily a 14th forward this year, but sometime in the future. This year's 14th forward in that regard is more likely Beagle or the Sugar guy.

Your criticism of McPhee I'm assuming is limited to the June, 2005 draft. (Not even God can criticize 2004.)

I am one of McPhee's biggest supporters here; that said, the selection of Pokulok at #14 defied imagination at the time and has proven to be a monumental error in judgment. Finley at #27 apparently will never equate to Carlson as a late 1st rounder. Caps didn't pick again until the 4th Round (McNeil and Thomas). Cheese was not a bad 5th round pick (how often do they turn into All-Stars?).

Anyone who makes an opinion on George McPhee, based soley on the 2005 draft, is like judging a restaurant by what they are throwing out in the trash.

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 6, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

freakin, with the exception of pokuluk and finley, all those other guys were fourth round or higher. without looking, name one fourth plus rounder from 05 who's done anything in the NHL. i'll give you some help, two have scored more than 10 goals in this league total and only three have played 100 games in the nhl.

findley is 22 and pokoluk has had concussion issues. not sure GMGM could have foreseen that.

i know what you are saying though, this team doesnt get enough from its late round picks. but its a total crap shoot. would be great to get a datsyuk in the sixth round someday, but it just doesnt happen that often.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | September 6, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

freakin: Absolutely, positively, it was Abe Pollin who made the move to go from the Cap Centre to downtown DC (what I meant by "facility"). Leonsis at the time was still building AOL. The practice facility was still at Piney Orchard, and then you are pointing out that it was Leonsis who wisely put the practice rink near the playing facility.

So, I won't disagree with you, we can just agree to add Leonsis to the list of those who contributed to Green's ability to assimilate into the DC culture.

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 6, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

I can give you 6 guys who did not pan out from a draft for any of the 30 teams. Especially if the rules are that only 2 of them have to be 1st rounders.

Critique GMGM all you want, but come on now.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 6, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

dcsportsfan: I am with you, dude. I have posted links to the draft like 1000 times here. People always say things like, "Boy, McPhee was an idiot for taking Boyd Gordon #17 in 2002." And then I post the 2002 draft and you can see that the average player, taken near Gordon, hasn't done that much differently. Sometimes they get indignant and say things like, "Well, he could've taken Cam Ward!!!" Yes, and they could have selected Dell Computer for their portfolio back in the early 90s.

The Caps have a history of AWFUL!!! drafting back in the 90s (80s was great). The tide turned with Semin in 2002. 2003 is still a question mark (Fehr) but 2005 was awful. 2006 and 2007 look very good. Who can quibble with DUMPING Brendan Witt to NSH for a 1st rounder (#23) that became Varlamov in 2006? Huh? Deal of the century, only to be bested maybe by Eminger and a #3 for the pick for Carlson in 2007.

Will the first person who can properly foretell the future please step forward and give me stock picks for the rest of the year?


Posted by: tominfl1 | September 6, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse


LOL, on the players being the same age as you, once upon a time. Now most of the players are the age of my first child; i.e. 24. Arlington, near Ballston, is now considered a "hot" place to live by that age group. (My first child is out of the country at the moment.)

When I first started following the Caps, most of them were slightly older than me, like a year or two older.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 6, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse


Got a great kick out of your "Nostrathomas" signature or, as translated from the Latin, Our Thomas in Florida.

Yes, prognosticating the future is so tough. If I were any good at that, there are several things I would have done differently.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 6, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

I would like to share something with you folks. My handle in "tominfl." Well, that's where I am, not where I'm from, else it would be "tomfrombaltimore."

It is an entirely different thing in life being from some place and living some place.

I can never be, no matter how long living here, tom from fl, unless I move somewhere else, but even then it would be tomfrombaltimore,detroit,longislandflorida.

I am glad I have never changed my teams. Tomorrow as a for instance the local chick-fil-a's have a promotion, "Free chicken sandwich if you come in wearing team gear." Yes, I will outfit the family of adults in Caps jerseys and we will take advantage of this promotion. For anyone in Finance, free is free.

For you Milton Friedman disciples:

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 6, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse


Ha! I can go back with my 401k and I can pick like three days in time (one being the day before 9/11 where everyone I knew bought company stock but me and then result was me 18% lower) where I could be a millionaire rather than a low hundred thousandaire. Yes, it's incredibly easy to use 20/20 and criticize. That said, when Caps picked Pokulok in 2005, I was like "WTF!?!?!?!" where did they get him from? I was like all over the draft prognostications and I don't think anywhere he was even in the first 2 rounds. WTF was McPhee thinking? A US college boy defenseman from Quebec, playing in NJ? It made no sense, then or now.

Meanwhile, back in 2005, I bought thousands of shares of Sirius Satellite Radio average CPS at like $4.

Duh. Call me, "idiotinfl."

At least I bought 5000 more at 35 cents a few months back.

Duh. Wished I pulled the trigger while my finger set poised over the enter button to buy FRE the other morning in the low 1-50s.

Duh. Are we ever as smart as we could have been?

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 6, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

I assumed that Greene's "crib" was in Arlington near Kettler. Is it in DC near the Verizon Center? It's good to have interesting posts to read again. Tells me that we're all reved up for hockey.

As for late round drafts, don't all GMs hope they have the unexpected superstar, or even just a solid NHLer. Diamonds in the rough are quite rare. Can't speak to the 2005 draft (tho the fact that none have made it yet speaks for itself) but I sure am happy with the 2004 and 2006 draft picks and I mean that depth wise too.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | September 6, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse


At least I said you were "Our Thomas in Florida" rather than "Our Thomas from Florida". So I was on the right track.

Anyway, enjoy your free sandwiches at Chick-fil-a tomorrow dressed in Caps gear.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 6, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse


Your assumption is right. Green's "crib" is near Kettler.

But, of course, with the high rises around there, people watching MTV who don't know our area would probably assume it's in DC.

DC is VERY Metro accessible from Kettler. Of course, Green would probably not be taking Metro but driving either the Escalade or the Lamborghini

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 6, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

The picture of the exterior didn't look like the area around Verizon but DC has a fair number of grassy areas so I wasn't going to lay any bets. We liked the skateboards on the walls. We live near the Metro too but we find that we usually drive in but our car is not as much fun. I can't wait for the season to start. Feels a bit like the first day of school -- anything is possible. We are attempting Kettler tomorrow--this is a first for us--going to one of the training camps that is.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | September 6, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Hey Kittypawz, thanks for the report from development camp. Are you going to watch any of the September camps? Would love more updates of real life HOCKEY playing! (Although I still enjoy the chitchat about stocks and predicting the future, etc. too, while we're passing the time until the all important October One date.)

Posted by: dccitizen1 | September 6, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

BTW tominfl your posts are always fun to read. A good sense of humor is a must in our house!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | September 6, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

I was ckecking out the rosters and didn't know who the other two goalies were on the list with Theo for training camp. Anybody know anything about Jason Bacashihua and Todd Ford?

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | September 6, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1 - From last thread - I don't know about Mike Green, but I'd be interested in some of those wine tips... :-)

Posted by: irockthered | September 7, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

I see that the Wash Post posted pictures and the salaries of Washingtonians and what they make. They included Ovi, using the picture from the 2008 NHL Awards ceremony that was used as the "model" for the Ovi bobblehead given away last year.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 7, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

dcsportsfan, Sergei Kostitsyn was a seventh round pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft.

I can't believe my comment got everyone's panties in a bunch. Are you actually going to sit there and say that the 2005 class wasn't an utter disaster? Pokoluk himself was a reach and wasn't projected to go until much much later...perhaps the second round and at the time drew much criticism.

Of course every team is going to have weak draft classes and you don't expect any GM to hit late round homeruns every year, but once in a while would be nice. Some Caps late round successes in the ten years prior to GMGM's arrival (100 games or more): Zednik (10th), Khristich (6th), Brunette (7th), Keith Jones (7th), Bondra (8th), Klee (9th), Trent Klatt (4th). If I add in 3rd rounders you get Woolley and Konowlachuk too.

GMGM's 3rd round and later successes (100 games or more): Krys Barch (4th - Caps let him walk and he signed as FA with Dallas) and Johnny Oduya (7th - Caps let him walk and signed as FA with New Jersey). That is it. If I include 2nd round players the list includes Pettinger and Paetsch. For the more recent drafts that isn't a fair assessment, so here is a list of late round picks that have potential: Lepisto (4th - now in Phoenix), Osala (4th), Andrew Gordon (7th), Perreault (6th), Della Rovre (7th) and Holtby (4th). If I include 2nd rounders that list includes Neuvirth, Bourque, Godfrey and Kugreyshev.

That is poor drafting. He generally hits on first rounders and by and large the rest of the draft is a waste.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | September 7, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Freakin--None of the posters disagreed with you about the success of the 2005 draft. Rather several disagreed with you about the overall effectiveness of GMGM. All GMs have hits and misses. The comparison someone made to choosing stocks is a good one.

I have only two points. First when analyzing GMGM's success, I would separate his drafting results into two groups--pre-"blow-up of the team" and post-"blow-up of the team." I say this because he is on record stating that he and his team of scouts completely reorganized and revamped their drafting strategy and analysis. He has stated quite clearly that they were not successful with the drafts in his early years with the Caps.

Second, it strikes me that this argument should be about more than whether we find that rare superstar in a late round draft. It should also be about GMGM's ability to make trades and negotiations to acquire as many as possible first and second round draft picks as possible. That increases the odds for success. Seems like he's done pretty well on that front thus far.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | September 7, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1 - From last thread - I don't know about Mike Green, but I'd be interested in some of those wine tips... :-)

Posted by: irockthered | September 7, 2009 12:27 AM

IROCK: You can email and I can offer some nice wines in the $10 range. I go to a wine shop for personal service, but if you have a Total Wine up there, they have competitive prices and the put ads with sales in the paper.

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 7, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

GMGM Report Card:

Pre-2002, either D+ or C-.

Since 2002 (incl 2002 draft):

Trades: A
Draft: B+
Free Agency Signings: B+

Only Nylander was a bust. Many other signings worked out well enough to good. Swapping players for picks has worked extremely well. No need to rehash. A lot of guys he picked up, like Clark and Bradley, served as the bridge between the old and the new. Poti was overpaid a bit. Brash was a good pick-up. Another guy he signed (LW from NJ, can't remember the name) didn't work out - but traded the player out West for a #2 pick. Oh, also, he signed a center from the Canes Ovechkin's rookie year, and the guy quit halfway into the season. Doidn't work, but wasn't a big investment. Can't recall name there either. All in all, he's done well lately.

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 7, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Capsyoungguns: Thx.

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 7, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Liked the report card. Thanks. It helps. I could see how logically the discussion needed to be reframed but I simply didn't know enough about the drafting history to come up with a report card. Just been listening to a fair number of interviews.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | September 7, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Tom, Nyls only became a bust after the injury. Prior to that he was effective, though not an A+ by any means.

Posted by: realoldcapsfan | September 7, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

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