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Melrose Like McPhee's Moves

From George Solomon's Sunday column:

"The Capitals are much improved -- without breaking the bank," said Barry Melrose, ESPN's hockey analyst and a former NHL coach. "Nylander had a great year for the Rangers, Poti is a solid addition on defense and Kozlov gives them depth. I think they've signed three of the top nine free agents available."

I'm hearing similar comments from other folks around the league. We'll know soon enough.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  July 8, 2007; 12:39 PM ET
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Next: Crosby Gets a New Deal


I still remember Alex's goal vs. Brodeur; Kozlov made that sick move as if he goes to the left, dman bought it, but instead Kozlov turned right and fed Ovechkin who didn't miss a chance. All Brodeur could do is to complain about mirrored visor... hehehe

GMGM definitely looks like a genius, esp. with Lowe in the background...

Posted by: alexovetjkin | July 8, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

while i'm not inclined to give gelrose or any of the folks at espn the time of day, it's good to see makfi getting some recognition. interesting to see how he does now that a) he's got some scouts and 2) he's got ted willing to spend a little.

Posted by: pgreene | July 8, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

It would be pretty hard not to consider those three an improvement.

Posted by: 007 | July 8, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

It's about time!!!
Let's Go Caps!!
Let's Go Caps!!!
Here we Capitals , Here we Go!

Help Save the Caps! Ooppss that was back in the 1980's. Sorry....

Posted by: CRSCK32 | July 8, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

It's about time!!!
Let's Go Caps!!
Let's Go Caps!!!
Here we Capitals , Here we Go!

Help Save the Caps! Ooppss that was back in the 1980's. Sorry....

Posted by: CRSCK32 | July 8, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

It's about time!!!
Let's Go Caps!!
Let's Go Caps!!!
Here we Capitals , Here we Go!

Help Save the Caps! Ooppss that was back in the 1980's. Sorry....

Posted by: CRSCK32 | July 8, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

So we can talk about all the bad moves in regards to players vis a vis draft...etc...

Please some one respond to what the CAPS Brass was thinking when they hired Bruce "the Hardy Boy" Cassidy?

Where is he now? Black Hawk Scout...oh and they have been real good the past few years....hmmm.

Posted by: CRSCK32 | July 8, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Our GM has identified (stepped in) most conceivable pitfalls at this point. I would slap my forehead (as I've done many times in recent years regarding Caps decisions) if he were dumped now that he may actually be doing some good things.

I definitely wouldn't want a newbie GM for next year's draft anyway.

Posted by: austinsteve | July 8, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Good to hear. The Caps rarely get attention from the big dogs, and when they do it tends to be either bad news or back-handed compliments. Not that I'm overly concerned with what Barry Melrose thinks, but it's always nice to hear something encouraging.

Thank God for the development camp... I need a live hockey fix in the worst way, and it'll be great to see Backstrom take the ice for the first time in the US.

Tarik - If you happen to come across a list of the numbers that'll be on the players' backs I'd appreciate it if you could pass it along. Dunno about what they'll be doing with the new uni system, but players have always worn nameless jerseys at practices and camps in the past.

Posted by: HolyOlie | July 8, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

HolyOlie -- i'll try to post that list. I'm not going to be out there everyday. After all the golf I've covered, I've got lots of vacation to burn.

Posted by: Tarik | July 8, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Tarik - Heh... No worries. I'm not planning on being out there every day either. Probably just one or two of the scrimmages.

Posted by: HolyOlie | July 9, 2007 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Remember, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Of course Nylander might break his leg in training camp again.

Don't heap it on GMGM so fast.

Posted by: Bubba | July 9, 2007 7:11 AM | Report abuse

To all nay-sayers: Go cheer for the Blue Jackets. There's a team having a tough go of it. Just like the old-time early years Caps.

Caps made good, sensible moves this FA period. Payoff years are still 2-3 seasons away, but I would be disappointed if the Caps don't have a playoff appearance this coming season.

For those who want more FA's etc. Start a business of your own and see how much money you have to fling around willy-nilly.

Posted by: Steve in Jersey | July 9, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

If the caps dont make the playoffs this year. GMGM is tost!!!!

Posted by: LIVINIT | July 9, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

If the caps dont make the playoffs this year. GMGM is tost!!!!

Let's not get too excited just yet. Keep in mind that we're in year 3 of a 5 year rebuild, and that while yes, this is the year that we're expected to be contenders, there are still a million and one things that could go wrong. We have a lot more depth than last year, so when either of the Alexes hits a dry spell it shouldn't affect us as bad as in the past. There's a LOT of skill on the forward lines now, and that's going to make a big difference, but the back line is still rather green because defensemen take a lot longer to mature than forwards.

In my opinion there's no excuse for finishing on the bottom of the Southeast this year, and if they do there's going to have to be either a coaching or management change (or both), because on paper our boys are much better than that. The rest of the Southeast didn't really make too many significant moves in the last couple weeks and are either weaker or holding at the same level. We might not be able to win the division, but we should be able to take the rest for a good ride - and that's a lot of progress.

Think back to right after the great unloading that ended the Jagr era in Washington. Now look at the team today - Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Nylander, Kozlov, Fehr, Clark. The core of a major team is in place and there are still tons of good prospects coming up behind them. I'm not about to say he's the greatest GM ever, but he's built a pretty dang good team with all the promise in the world.

This team will contend this year. They're not going to be called "The Hershey Bears in NHL uniforms" anymore. GMGM now has 2 years left in the rebuild to flesh out the roster, plug the holes, and take this team from a skilled and rapidly maturing core to a team that can win a Stanley Cup. Because I'm a Caps fan I'm not going to say that he can do it - I've seen perfect situations fall apart in ways that should only be possible in movies, but looking at the roster right now I have something that I haven't had in quite a while: A glimmer of hope.

Posted by: HolyOlie | July 9, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Hey Tarik,

Have you heard anything from the management regarding Ovie's contract extension?

Btw, keep up the good work.

Posted by: Mo | July 9, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Vacation? You don't get to take a vacation - rookie camp starts this week! LOL, enjoy yourself.

Posted by: On Ice | July 9, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Two big issues we now face are chemistry and injuries. I think chemistry we'll be good-- all of the signings are good guys, and our top 6 are a collectively talented group that should function in some format. It may not be the expected Ovechkin/Nylander/Kozlov and Semin/Backstrom/Whoever, but some combo of that will work. Injuries is the biggest worry. Look at what happened to the Wizards!

Posted by: GJ | July 9, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Your post about injuries got me thinking of evil thoughts... I don't wish injury on any player... But wouldn't that just be a in interesting thing if the top $$ UFA's for the lets say, i dont know... RANGERS were to have one. All that money tied up in just a few players... Scary... yet in a twisted way quite humorous.

Posted by: cs | July 9, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, would you please make a list of all the guys who take pot shots at the Caps and their management and who think they know so much, so that at the end of next season they can be exposed as idiots.

I like the Caps chances, I think Caps management knows whats going on and I am on board with them. I will be there for them win, lose or draw.

And if I have my issues, I will state them just like anyone else but at least I will give em a chance first.

Anybody thats doggin the Caps now is not a fan, because a fan is going to at least give them the chance to succeed. Anybody doggin the Caps now is a know-it-all that has a grossly overated opinion of themselves and their knowledge of hockey.

GMGM has done a fantastic job, the coaches are excellent and the players, as a group, are above average. Let's drop the puck!!!

Posted by: Muddapucker | July 9, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Actually, on the list of things Tarik can research, I'd like for him to dig up what pie in the sky numbers Souray is asking for. Hard to believe he's still unsigned.

Posted by: tallbear | July 9, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Souray needs to remember for his negotiations, yes he did have 20 something goals, but he was also a -28! Ouch.

Posted by: cs | July 9, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Muddapucker = GMGM

Posted by: On Ice | July 9, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Just because someone critiques or "dogs" the caps doesn't mean they aren't a fan. I've been a caps fan as long as the next person and I think thats exactly what gives me the reason to voice my opinion. And if you wanna question my knowledge of the game, take ur best shot. This team deserves critisism for some of sh*t they've pulled over the years. I'll be there to cheer them, but i'll also let it be known if I don't like something either. I think i'm entitled to it as a paying customer.

Posted by: Esmydee13 | July 9, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Esmydee13, above. Muddapucker's claim is is the same one Cheney and the Bush admin used when citizens criticized their actions. You can still be a proud American and call out the presidential admin in charge. You can still be Caps fan and disagree with the mvoes made. We're all fans else we wouldn't be here.

Posted by: 007 | July 9, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

So there IS life out there besides HolyOlie, Muddapucker, EricS and other ... can't think of a word

Posted by: Finn | July 9, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Finn - I've stood up for your right to whine and moan because as a longtime Capitals fan I understand exactly why you do it... and for the record, I do not agree with Muddapucker.

Posted by: HolyOlie | July 9, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

That's exactly what I am for - a right to speak. Muddpucker says that if someone desagrees he/she is not a fan. But this is wrong.

I don't whine BTW

Posted by: Finn | July 9, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Anyone for some Kool-Aid?

Posted by: signorformaggio | July 10, 2007 4:01 AM | Report abuse

everything muddapucker said is correct.....except for the fact that you guys ARE in fact fans.

just annoying/complaining/never happy/cynical fans

I have a feeling that you like "standing out" by being that way...just a guess.

Theres nothing else the rest of us can do about it but laugh at your frustration.

Posted by: poile | July 10, 2007 5:03 AM | Report abuse

Is it me, or do we need all the Caps fans we can get! Not throwin anyone off the boat! Listen the Caps deserve to get hammered pretty much for every move after game 4 of their Stanley Cup appearance. Will Transparency Ted and GMGM's long view philosophy work out....remains to be see, has it been painful and damaging in the short/middle term...without a doubt. Maybe...JUST MAYBE...the Jagr stink and the poison it brought are gone...


Posted by: Chris Larry | July 10, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

My 2c is that McPhee is about average as a GM, maybe a bit above average after this summer. Its ok to criticize, but you've got to be realistic in your expectations.

Anyway, looks like Crosby signed for 5yrs at 9M. Ouch, some discount. Unfortunately, I'll bet Ovechkin('s mom) will now want the same thing.

Posted by: Vlad | July 10, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure the Canadian media will still find a why to report that Crosby took a Huge Discount to help his team win.

Posted by: Brian"The Brain"Billick | July 10, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Why "unfortunatelly"? Did you really expect him to sign for $6 mil?

Posted by: Finn | July 10, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I dunno, seems to me that 9m per for OV is a pretty good effing price for Ted. As a businessman he has to recognize that OV is worth much more than that for the franchise in terms of ticket sales and merchandise.

Posted by: Yosh | July 10, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I agree. Sign Ovechkin for $9 mil a year, 5 years. Same deal as Crosby

Posted by: Finn | July 10, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know what the rules behind option years are? Like can an additional year (club option) be added with the salary/raise being based on the previous years' performance?

Posted by: Yosh | July 10, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Yep - Crosby signed.. here's the blurb from the Post-Gazette:

"The Penguins have signed center Sidney Crosby to a five-year contract extension. Financial details were not immediately available, but the deal is believed to be worth about $9 million per year.

It will take effect in the 2008-09 season."

Three things-

1) The deal is only 5 years; Crosby should be an unrestricted free agent at the end of that contract. If the salary cap keeps going up the way it has been (assuming the league is still in business) he'll command massive, massive money at that time.

2) It's interesting that the deal doesn't take effect until next season. Maybe that was a compromise, with the Pens saying, "ok we'll give you the shorter contract, but you have to finish your rookie contract." In effect it's a six-year deal for less than nine million a year, if you factor in his current contract.

3) If I could only choose Ovechkin or Crosby, I'd still take Ovechkin. I just think the ability to put the puck in the net is a much "rarer" gift than the ability to set up goals. That being said, I don't think Ovechkin can realistically hope for more money per season than the league MVP from last year.

In any case, let's hope OV is signed to a deal that runs longer than five years, before the puck drops this season.


Posted by: Oneal | July 10, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm not really sure about this...but can you even replace the rookie contract with a new contract? I thought it had to run its course before the contract extension went into effect. I could be 100% wrong, however.

Posted by: Jeff | July 10, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse


I'm not sure either, but I suspect that it is the owner's perogative as the rookie contract limitations were put into effect to protect the owners. I know it's possible in baseball and football. I wouldn't say it's common, but the Mets just looked up Reyes and Wright midway through their rookie contracts.

/hockey might be entirely different

Posted by: Yosh | July 10, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

The contract won't kick in until after this season. Right?

Posted by: Finn | July 10, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Per the CBA, option years are now out.
As I understand it, you can't replace a contract, you can only extend it.

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

I am hardly suggesting to lowball OV, but if the league MVP, as well as the player voted most outstanding by his peers, signed for 9 mil I'd think maybe offering 8 mil a season over 6 years is a good place to start. If you end up paying the 9 mil, so be it...he's already counting about 4 mil against our cap anyhow. And if OV's contract also goes into effect after his rookie contract is up, you don't have to worry about the money until next year anyhow.

Posted by: Jeff | July 10, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather see Ovie sign a 7 or 8 year contract myself.

Posted by: stepguybrian | July 10, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

You could always go the DiPietro way too, and sign him for 15 years. I think the Caps should push for as long a contract as possible...the issue is more likely to be from the OV side, and wanting to limit the length of any contract he signs.

Posted by: Jeff | July 10, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I think there isn't much room to negotiate. And I think Ted is smart and will offer Ovechkin a long term deal. You have to remember, that Ovechkin fits here, he plays well, he likes the fans and the city. He's not a Jagr. The Caps should not be afraid of tying him up to a longer deal. He is our franchise player. Now make that call, get him signed, and we all go home happy

Posted by: Finn | July 10, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Finn, no argument at all with anything you said. I'm just thinking that if you are OV and/or his mom and you see that Crosby "only" signed for 5 years would you be inclined to sign an 8 year deal, etc? I think a matching 5 year/9 mil a year contract would be a no-brainer on both sides...but I'd also love to see a longer term deal.

Posted by: Jeff | July 10, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Jeff, I agree that signing him to a long term deal should be Ted's priority. But I don't think Ted should argue about money. They shouldn't play down his achievements.

Posted by: Finn | July 10, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Capitals Sign Right Wing Joe Motzko

Posted by: Mr. Blank | July 10, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Its funny how people say Ted should pay OV $9Mil a year.....but wasn't this team averaging 8-10K fans a night, with more than 1/2 of VC empty last 2 years with OV as its star attraction????

If I am Ted I have to wonder do I need to pay OV $9M/yr to attract 8K fans to a game???? The pens had a full house almost every home game. We as fans need to recognize, if we don buy tickets Ted and GMGM won't spend the bucks.

I am curious to see if the new additions to the teams will result in a bump in attendance next season.

Posted by: Genotype55 | July 10, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

If Ted doesn't pay Ovechkin $9 mil a year, someone else will

Posted by: Finn | July 10, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

The Player's Association probably still won't be happy. The MVP of the league took more than a million a year pay cut. With the cap probably rising higher next year, how much will Heatley be offered? Sure someone can throw 10 mil a year at him but they would be paying him more than a million more than the player with the most points this season. Ovechkin will now certainly ask for a similiar deal as he should. Crosby basically is saving the pens 6 mil over 6 years. Not that big of savings but better than he is worth. I mean they have a waiting list on season tickets now so he is getting fans in the seats as well.

Posted by: whats up | July 10, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Well it works in reverse too. Star players help to put fans in seats but in the end if you don't win don't expect fans to show up just to see a star no matter who he is.
Caps fans have seen this act before. They have put stars on the ice before and have seen results at the box office but in the end they still lost, and lost their fan base.
My opinion is that when I went to games last year I was disgusted with our inability to compete. I don't NEED to do anything. The Caps NEED to show me they are a decent team worth paying for!

Posted by: capfan1 | July 11, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I think GMGM finally woke from our nightmare. Firing Wilson was idiotic. Getting rid of Jagr should have been done the day after he was signed. Bringing in Cassidy to manage Jagr...he was smokin' something and it isn't legal. Then to sell the team off and turn a good group of individuals into a minor league team. Unconcionable. I don't know when GMGM's contract comes up, but I wouldn't resign it. Yes, he had a good off-season this year. He has a lot to make up for, though.

As for options on contracts. When these kids (Ovie and Crosby) first signed, they got a fixed amount plus incentives for a fixed amount of time. In addition, at the club's option, they could negotiate additional years. This doesn't change the initial contract. I believe that both contracts come up at the end of next season. By negotiating now, you avoid the rush and stresses of season end. It's usually a good move for both. The player gets assurance that they'll have another X years and $Y millions per year. The club knows what their out costs are and what talent they'll have to work with. Also, they can plan development for replacements (like if you could for these guys), and for complimentary players.

Posted by: Greg S. | August 7, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

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