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McPhee on Aucoin: 'Next Year, We Hope He Sticks'

Because Donald Brashear is still hobbled by a sprained left knee, Keith Aucoin is going to travel with the Caps on their upcoming road trip, which begins tomorrow night in Atlanta, Coach Bruce Boudreau said this morning after a very optional practice at KCI.

With five points in his past five NHL games (two goals, three assists), Aucoin is making a bid to be on the Caps' roster for the playoffs. But even if he doesn't make the cut, he could play a much bigger role on next year's team, I'm told. The coaching staff has been impressed with Aucoin's tenacity and the engery boost that he provides. It doesn't hurt that the 30-year-old will be on a one-way deal next season, meaning he'll make $500,000 regardless of whether he plays in Washington or Hershey.

"You don't commit to a one way unless you think the guy can play in the league and can give you a number of games," General Manager George McPhee said. "We still see upside there and we think he can play. He's been terrific in Hershey and he's been a good call-up for us. Next year, we hope he sticks."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 6, 2009; 12:04 PM ET
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Next: Varlamov to Start in Atlanta


1) With fighting near no existent in the NHL playofffs having a guy designated enforcer just takes up a roster spot. Give it to a player who can contribute offensively. Sit Donald regardless of his health!

Posted by: fauxrumors | April 6, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The speculation can officially begin as to which Cap McPhee and Boudreau are expecting won't be around next year.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | April 6, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

can someone explain the one-way deal that Tarik references?

Posted by: mikesfan | April 6, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

@fauxrumors: I suspect that you and I are in the minority on this board, but I agree that Brashear is not a necessity at this point.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | April 6, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

@mikesfan: A two way contract is a contract where the player makes different amounts of money in the NHL than the minor leagues. A one way he makes the same whether he plays in the NHL or the minors.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | April 6, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

@ccCapsfan: Thanks. I would suspect that two-ways are more common? I always wondered about that. Does Alzner have a two-way?

Posted by: mikesfan | April 6, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

can someone explain the one-way deal that Tarik references?

Posted by: mikesfan | April 6, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The two-way contract Aucoin signed as an UFA, before this season (meaning he could be optioned to Hershey, as he was), included a second year, 2009-2010, as a one-way contract, meaning he gets all $500K and must pass through waivers if sent down.

If he plays like this, he might well stick. He gives you something different than Gordon and Steckel. My guess then is they don't keep Gordon, Steckel and Aucoing, but trade one. At this point, if it were up to me, I would move Steckel. I think Gordo has upside and Aucoin gives you that pestiness that every team needs.

I'm also thinking Kozlov is unlikely to return as Bourque can't be sent down next year either (unless he signs a two-way deal, very unlikely). Finally, I think Feds MIGHT be back, but nowhere near $4M. He had McPhee over the barrel last year, but next year the cards are turned. Feds missed plenty of time, isn't worth as much, likes it in DC and supposedly wants to hang around for Olympics.

Posted by: tominfl1 | April 6, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Aucoin is trade bait at best. At 5 feet 9 inches and 31 years old, I doubt he would be able to sustain his health and effort in the NHL level for a full season. Too bad he started his career so late in life. It appears that he only started playing professionally since 2005-2006, when he was already 27 years old! But still love watching his grit and tenacity when he plays! He puts the bigger and more talented under-achievers on the team to shame!

Posted by: JohnWWW | April 6, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Brash wins the battles, makes the D work hard...Top notch leader.

Everyone notices the goals and assists, but I try to look past that.

I want Brash in the lineup come playoff time. He is more then a fighter. I think any decent hockey fan will see that.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 6, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

@ccCaps & @faux - agree completely, the Donald is a liability in today's game, he simply takes waaaaaay too many minor penalties, and you can NOT afford to take bad penalties come playoff time [and most playoff opponents are too smart to be goaded into matching].

I know he tries hard, but Brash simply doesn't skate well enough for today's NHL: he knows he has to hit to play, but he's usually a step slow so he has to foul to catch up to most guys - he is a playoff liability!!!!

Posted by: govtimbo | April 6, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Aucoin is playing great. At this point he should get a start before anyone else on the 4th line. Let's look at his points per game.... he is the man.

Anyone have a pair of playoff tickets for any first round game in any seat?

Posted by: RongCapsFan | April 6, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

@ccCapsfan: Thanks. I would suspect that two-ways are more common? I always wondered about that. Does Alzner have a two-way?

Posted by: mikesfan | April 6, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

ccCapsfan didn't list the part about one-way deals requiring waivers to be sent down (and re-entry waivers ) if they recall you.

On Alzner: He signed a three-year, entry-level contract. All players on entry-level contracts can be sent to Hershey. Once they get past the entry-level deal, they can't be sent down w/o waivers unless they voluntarily sign a two-way deal (because no one would offer one-way). Aucoin accepted two-way for this season because McPhee included the one-way for next year.

Posted by: tominfl1 | April 6, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Aucoin started in the AHL in 2001. He got his fisrts shot in the Bigs in 05/06. He appeared to be essentially a career minor leaguer because of his size. He may be late, but I think he probably could handle the rigors of an NHL season with the 3rd or 4th line minutes he would get.

Posted by: _Mark | April 6, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1: thanks for the additional info. I also tend to agree with you about Steckel. There is a lot to like about him but he has to be the slowest center in the NHL and I have thought for a while that he was part of the problem on the penalty kill because he is so slow.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | April 6, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Anyone that says Brashear should play before Aucoin is smoking something.

Anyone can and will fight when needed but
not anyone can be a top 10 points pergame
forward for a team.

Rank Player Points per Game
1  Alexander Ovechkin 1.39
2  Alexander Semin 1.27
3  Mike Green 1.08
4  Nicklas Backstrom 1.05
5  Brooks Laich 0.63
6  Sergei Fedorov 0.63
7  Viktor Kozlov 0.61
8  Keith Aucoin 0.56
9  Tomas Fleischmann 0.50
10  Michael Nylander 0.46
11  Eric Fehr 0.43
12  Tom Poti 0.25
13  Dave Steckel 0.25
14  Boyd Gordon 0.22
15  Tyler Sloan 0.19
16  Shaone Morrisonn 0.19
17  Chris Clark 0.19
18  Milan Jurcina 0.18
19  Jeff Schultz 0.18
20  Karl Alzner 0.17
21  Matt Bradley 0.13
22  John Erskine 0.08
23  Donald Brashear 0.06

Posted by: RongCapsFan | April 6, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

ccCapsfan: I really like Steckel, but he doesn't stand out quite enough in any one area. I feel Gordon is a better long-term option as a defensive forward and centerman, while Aucoin has shown more offensive talent over the past few games than either Steckel or Gordon has this year. Aucoin made several plays yesterday where, afterward, Semin came over and gave him props. Gordo, Steckel and even Bradley don't have that skill. Aucoin looked full of energy yesterday; meanwhile, Fedorov looked really old. I was also happy to see Nylander do so well and for Fehr and Flash both have luck turn their way. With three games left, this is the perfect time for the Caps to turn it on (unlike the Devils, who might have peaked).

Posted by: tominfl1 | April 6, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@mikes - you are correct sir, two-ways are much more common, usually only very high draftees get one-way deals. Aucoin has definitely earned his stripes - and the A is a hell of a good league, 90+ points is damn impressive - actually, that many pts is impressive, even in the Sunshine league!

@Tom - agreed about Kozlov, but I think Federov should and will be back - Boudreau loves smart, good, clutch players, and Federov is all of the above.

Q: exactly how many Cups did Stevie Y win w/o Feds?
A: Squadoosh (or the same # as Sakic w/o Forsberg, or for that matter Gretzky w/o Messier). The show horse gets the credit, the work horse gets it done.

Posted by: govtimbo | April 6, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

There's more to hockey then just scoring.

You ever hear about teams need the right "role players" to win?

Aucoin will get very little ice time in the playoffs, and if we need an energy line to get out there and lay some hits, and get things going, you gonna send Aucoin out?

Come on people...teams need to be built with balance. Aucoin would replace Nylander if wont be Brash, Gordon, Steckel or Bradley...

Posted by: SA-Town | April 6, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

And if scoring was everything, dont you think Brash, Bradley and Gordon would of been cut along time ago?

Posted by: SA-Town | April 6, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Brashear bashing continues.

How many goals have we given up with Brashear sitting in the box?

imho he is better for the other team than us most of the time.

And he almost never finds the net.

Send Bradley, Clark, Steckel, Gordon and Brashear to the minors long before we send Aucoin back!!!!

Posted by: RongCapsFan | April 6, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Brash is 36th in the NHL in PIMs with 121. Among the enforcers, he's near the bottom. Philly has 4 skaters with more PIMs than Brash including the league leader with 254 (Carcillo).

Want to reassess?

Posted by: Greg S. | April 6, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

tominfl1, one-way itself doesn't require waivers, last year (or the year before) Semin was one of like 10 players who had a one-way but didn't require waivers. Waivers is all about time, it would be rare to have finished your rookie contract, sign a one-way and not have the service time requiring waivers.

Posted by: koalatek | April 6, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse


This isnt NHL 09 for X-Box. Hitting and physical play means something and wears down the D. So that come 3rd period, Ovie and Semin have an extra step on those guys when it counts.

Aucoin isnt going to wear down anyone compared to Brash and Bradley...

The first two lines score..the 3rd hopes to score and the 4th brings the physical play...thats hockey my friend...

Posted by: SA-Town | April 6, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Steckel is a necessary player for face offs in the defensive zone and he is still young. Let's not forget that Aucoin is 30 and has had many chances. Playing hot over a hand full of games at 30 doesn't make a career.

That being said, Fedorov, Kozlov, Brashear, and Gordon are all free agents after the season. Anyone of them might not be back opening room for Aucoin, Osala, Bourque and such. Depth is a good thing.

Posted by: lornemyoung | April 6, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

tominfl, You're right about the money, but one- & two-way contracts don't have anything to do with waivers. Waivers is all about games played in the big league, how long its been since they signed their first contract and their age when they signed it.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I agree with those that say the role of the enforcer has been diminished. Brash does bring grit to the table that has been missing, but he has gotten older and slower. We need to find someone else who can do that. I don't care so much about the points, it's the hitting hand grinding that is needed.

Posted by: Leeguru | April 6, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Brash is a leader - he'll be in the lineup come playoff time. Does anyone remember what he did for us in the playoffs last year? He was our best 4th liner and had some points to go with it.

Has there been any updates on Clark? Last I heard the poor guy wanted to be back for the playoffs. Even if he's healthy - with the season he had - does he even crack the lineup?

Posted by: patrone | April 6, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Question: Is a team allowed any more players on the bench for the playoffs than during regular season, or does it stay the same?

Posted by: kcbrichmond | April 6, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Playoff roster should have Aucoin in and Bradley out.

Posted by: cao091402 | April 6, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse


Same amount of players dress in playoffs.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 6, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Brashear or Steckel could sit for Aucoin in my book, though I think Osala has more upside.
I really like having Fedorov (spelled "fedorov") around. Hope he's in the mood for a Substantial Pay Cut. I have never seen Yzerman referred to as a show pony before and am still laughing about it.

Posted by: redlineblue | April 6, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Enforcers are needed in the playoffs, as well as an established forcheck Brash does both. If you don't think being physical impacted Round 1 last year, you sir are smoking something.

Irregaurdless Aucoin has been doing extremely well and is one of several players I'd like to see called up from the AHL next year. Primarily the guy Aucoin is tied with in AHL points, and teammate Alexader Giroux.

Posted by: breaklance | April 6, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

As to the comment of Fedorov looking really old, one must bear in mind that he had been hit by a puck while blocking a shot late in the previous game during which he scored two very nice goals and was a game time decision yesterday. I suspect when he is fine next week during the playoffs no one will be making comments of this sort about his effort.

Posted by: dwollkind | April 6, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

people have the craziest ideas on this blog these days.

Posted by: doughless | April 6, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

jmu_capsgirl: I can't break the code on that link of yours to know if Bourque would require waivers (to be sent down) next year. Aucoin would, as he's over 30. Bourque was like the 1st pick/2nd round/2004. He is 23 years old and three years removed from signing his first pro contract. He's only played a handful of games. I think from the chart, because he's 23 and (next year) in his 4th pro season, he needs waivers. There are a bunch of them in this category - Gordo, Fehr, Mo, Lepisto, and Cheese (I think). Along with Bourque, I believe, and Aucoin, they all need waivers. This is what happens when you get depth.

Posted by: tominfl1 | April 6, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

@redline, agreed completely about Osala, way more upside.

Sorry about the spelling on Fedorov. And yeah, I probably wouldn't say it too loudly in D-town, but Stevie Y was widely known as a one-way player before Feds arrived. It took a center like Fedorov (and a coach like Bowman, to be sure) for him to change his game - but he never won a single cup without Fedorov riding shotgun.

Posted by: govtimbo | April 6, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Keith Aucoin has huge 'fan favorite' potential.

Posted by: baldinga | April 6, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Rank Player Points per Game
1 Alexander Ovechkin 1.39
2 Alexander Semin 1.27
3 Mike Green 1.08
4 Nicklas Backstrom 1.05
5 Brooks Laich 0.63
6 Sergei Fedorov 0.63
7 Viktor Kozlov 0.61
8 Keith Aucoin 0.56
9 Tomas Fleischmann 0.50
10 Michael Nylander 0.46
11 Eric Fehr 0.43
12 Tom Poti 0.25
13 Dave Steckel 0.25
14 Boyd Gordon 0.22
15 Tyler Sloan 0.19
16 Shaone Morrisonn 0.19
17 Chris Clark 0.19
18 Milan Jurcina 0.18
19 Jeff Schultz 0.18
20 Karl Alzner 0.17
21 Matt Bradley 0.13
22 John Erskine 0.08
23 Donald Brashear 0.06

That, my friends, is some cherry-picking. Aucoin has play about six games this season so his numbers are not only skewed - maybe too low, maybe too high - but completely irrelevant. I'll argue the too low side, just for fun, and say that Kozlov's number are way too high for what we've seen over the last half season. On the other side, Aucoin isn't much better than Michael Nylander - a pariah on this board, if anyone is.

I think Backstrom is far more important to the team this year than Semin - point average or not - because he plays every game and that's critical. Unless you frame per game scoring numbers, they're for junk.

I like Aucoin a lot but to even ponder, via these numbers, that he's a top ten player on this team, is folly.

By this logic, Lepisto at .57, is just a successful as Aucoin, and he's a defenseman.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse


As I have mentioned in the past I run a "bracket style" NHL playoff tournament. I know Kittypawz and some others are interested but I'd like to make this as big as I can get it. Currently I have about 15-20 people in. Anybody else interested email me at this name at I can email you all the rules etc. To me it's just as much fun as the NCAA tourney. We've done this for over 10yrs and we've done it so many different way but this seems to be the best. So if you're interested let me know. And hey, at least this year if you did pick the Caps to win at least you wouldn't be admitted into a psych ward! Each bracket is $20 and you can submit up to 2, winner take all.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | April 6, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

@lornemyoung: I'd guess that whether Kozlov is resigned is largely dependent on how he does in the playoffs. He has not done well in his last few games, so the jury is out yet, and we won't know until the postseason.

Fedorov's resigning will depend on whether he's willing to take a pay cut. He's been really useful lately, though, and he's one of the players I'm hoping will step up in the second season. He knows what has to happen better than anybody.

Brash is a complicated question, and I see both sides of the argument. I'm on the fence on Brash.

The big question to my mind is whether Johnny gets resigned. I was not crazy about Varlamov's performance on Friday - I swear there's an angel perched on that crossbar when he's between the pipes. Way too many open nets for my liking; if Buffalo could aim, it'd've been a blowout.

Of course, with Braden Holtby potentially in Hershey (unless he goes to South Carolina?), there may not be room in the logjam. I'm guessing Machesney does not get resigned in Hershey.

Posted by: kittypawz | April 6, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

A good enforcer never goes to the box alone. Far too often I see the linesman skating only Brash to the sin bin, and not taking an opponent with him. Plus, he far too often takes bad penalties, to boot.

You simply can not take stupid penalties in the playoffs.

Posted by: govtimbo | April 6, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

GovTim, that's interesting. I thought SteveY was a 'gritty captain' and Feds more of a (Selke-winning!) show. I've always liked Fedorov, without much tracking him till he got here.
I saw Yzerman play like Superman in MTL once Long Ago, 3 points in a 4-2 DET win. Late in the third, he was the only person Habs fans would cheer. It was a cool hockey moment.

Posted by: redlineblue | April 6, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin won's "pool A" for play of the year! But everyone needs to go and show Semin some support as well, he got nominated for "pool B". GO VOTE!

Posted by: NatyBG | April 6, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

@redline, that's pretty cool you saw Det in MTL, what a city and what a place to watch hockey, those are great fans. One guess at to who holds the Detroit record for playoff points per game (over 40 pts) - none other than Fedorov; higher than Howe, Sid Abel, Stevie Y, anybody. Pretty impressive when you see a guy who gets a lot of points anyway average even more in the playoffs when scoring is down overall (Forsberg's avg. PPG increased even more).

Btw, I was lucky enough to see one of the last games at the old MTL Forum, wow was I impressed with those fans, so knowledgeable, passionate and classy. Great city.

Posted by: govtimbo | April 6, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Having seen Aucoin locally in the ECHL, he's a player. He has a nose and knack for the puck. I also think you need a guy like Brash. Stecks is a faceoff guy too. If you can rotate 'em, they're all worth keeping.

Posted by: bundy44 | April 6, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I like Stecks, Gordo & Koz.
Stecks is a must for me for faceoffs & size.
Gordo is grit & faceoffs.
Koz is savvy & size.

I'd trade Gordo if u put a gun to my head.
& ask Koz to take a no increase contrast.

Posted by: Rocc00 | April 6, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

look there is some dead weight on this team, whether we like to talk about it or not the following slackers need to go at the end of the season: Flash, Federov, Nylander, Kozlov and Clark(i love him but time to go) and every d-man except Green(i am worried that he will turn into a pain in the neck "superstar" who is more interested in his crib and car than playing winning hockey)and then let Alzner, Carlson and some young hungry mean and cheap d-men who actually want to play defense! Schultz is the biggest slacker waste of hockey skin and should be playing on a mens league team next year! wait a minute how about dumping Jeff Schultz and bringing in his bad-a$$ brother Ian from the WHL. just some thoughts, but remember no matter what I will always bleed Caps red!

Posted by: ReedRothchild | April 6, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Brash has done a good job this year as a fourth liner, with Gordo and Brads they have done some terrific cycling. Brash has also drawn a good number of penalties this year, not just taken them. But he was getting slower and more penalized as the season wore on and I'm thinking he was just tired because he is older and has to work so hard. I'm hoping the rest he has been getting while injured will get him back to playing like he did earlier in the season. I don't think you can sit his experience during the playoffs since this team is still pretty much new to the playoffs.

Posted by: ds_kelly | April 6, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I like Stecks, Gordo & Koz.
Stecks is a must for me for faceoffs & size.
Gordo is grit & faceoffs.
Koz is savvy & size.

I'd trade Gordo if u put a gun to my head.
& ask Koz to take a no increase contrast.

Posted by: Rocc00 | April 6, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

cocking my gun

Steckel is very valuable, Koz CAN be very valuable when he plays like a man possessed. Gordo can go disappear into thin air as far as I'm concerned.

Too bad Laing got hurt. He would have been my first choice to replace Brash in the lineup. Aucoin I'm lukewarm about for next year. We have enough other forwards who are getting stifled down in the minors because of our roster logjam

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 6, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

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