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Morning roundup: Staying out of the box

(John Amis/AP)

Morning roundup

Responding to two seasons of pleas from Coach Bruce Boudreau, several Caps players have finally started to cut back on their minor penalties. Only five teams have been whistled for fewer minor infractions than the Caps' 171 in 44 games.

"I think I snapped once too often," Boudreau said. "I've harped on it for the last two years. It's finally getting through." | Full story ยป

And now for some morning links:

*Taking pity on the enemy. (Ted's Take)

*Backstrom makes the Swedes a contender in Vancouver. (USA Today)

*USA celebrates its WJC victory. (On Frozen Blog, which has really been bringing the Caps-blogging excellence as of late)

*In the race for the scoring title, Alex Ovechkin isn't winning. But he is beating Sidney Crosby on this list, so there's that. (The Hockey News)

*Goal differential puts the Caps at No. 3. Sounds about right. (Fanhouse)

Stay tuned for more from practice in Tampa, where the Caps are looking to put away the Lightning tomorrow night for the 13th straight time.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  January 11, 2010; 8:54 AM ET
 | Tags: Morning roundup  
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Posted by: pebowers | January 11, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Actually should be ranked at #2 now (+41) for goal differential. That was before the +7 we put up on Atlanta.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | January 11, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Next week is insane...

Philly, Detroit, Crapsburg, and a much improved Yotes team....

get your popcorn ready...

Posted by: SA-Town | January 11, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Anyone have any thoughts on the rumors of the Caps acquiring Kovalchuk? At first I didn't give the rumors any credibility. Why would the Caps give up the prospects and picks necessary to get him from Atlanta when they'd have no chance of keeping him around after the season? It would certainly cost the Caps one of Varly and Neuvy, one of Alzner and Carlson (although I don't think anyone is going to be able to pry away Carlson from the Caps), Fehr or Flash and first round pick.

Then again, in this salary cap era, the Caps are one of the few teams with some room to operate right now, so maybe it won't cost them quite as much since Atlanta wouldn't have to take a big contract back.

Another thing I failed to consider is that at the end of the season but before free agency, the Caps could trade Kovalchuk's rights to another team which would allow that team to have an exclusive negotiating period to get him locked up long term. I don't think they'd bring in as big a haul as it took to acquire him in the first place, but it could certainly lessen the cost of adding Kovy as rental and perhaps make it worth doing.

Personally, I don't think this is a move that GMGM would make (seems too agressive/risky for him), but at the same time, the Eastern Conference is up for grabs and GMGM has surprised me in the past (Huet and Fedorov trades).

Posted by: cainoo7x | January 11, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

@cain007x: I don't think there is any way Kovalchuk ends up with the Caps this year. The one absolute for McPhee and Ted seems to be that they want to have a team that challenges for the Cup every year for the next 10 years (expecting that team will win it once or twice). If you have to give up Neuvy, Alzner, Fehr and a first round pick for a half year rental, you are really threatening the next 10 years for a guy who doesn't address your only real need (a big, crushing defensive defenseman).

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 11, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

If the Caps trade away great prospects for Kovaluchuk,I will cry and throw a temper tantrum that would make the best two year old look envious! We do not need any more scoring power...we need a solid stay at home defensemen!!!! I have to believe that this is just a silly rumor.

Posted by: capscoach | January 11, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The Caps don't lack goal scoring and certainly don't need Kovy and his big contract. We need a D-man. So if GMGM is seeking a trade, let's hope he wouldn't have to give up Alzner or Carlson for a stay-at-home D-man.

Posted by: instinct227 | January 11, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

My thought on Kovalchuk is this.

We have the #1 offense in the league...lets not build what we already have...

We need D and grit...lets build there.

Posted by: SA-Town | January 11, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather have Matt Cooke back on this team than Kovalchuk.

Posted by: Fro_ | January 11, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I am 50/50 on this. One day I say no don't do it. The next day I say, can you imagine Semin, Flash & Kovy on the 2nd line! Overall a stay at home defender would make the most sense. I would not be all the mad if we got Kovy as long as it was for the right price. Yet, in the end Kovy is going to be in LA, Neidermeyer will be back in NJ, Caps will get Souray or another D-man, Selanne will go to the Pens and we will raise the cup come middle of June. Works for me.

Posted by: Capsnskins1 | January 11, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

FWIW, Kovalchuk has great skills, sure. But we are already totally loaded up front. So much so that the only reason I could imagine for GMGM to get him, would be so that nobody else with a shot at the Cup does(cough cough Detroit cough Pittsburgh cough cough Rangers cough).

Posted by: Rhino40 | January 11, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Besides, I have too much respect for Kovy to see him potentially get Nylandered.

Posted by: Rhino40 | January 11, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I tend to agree with what most here are saying that the Caps would be better off upgrading a defenseman. However, who is available that would fit the bill? It would have to be someone that is either cheap or has an expiring contract.

I've read the Souray rumors and they make no sense as he's still got two more years at $4.5 mil per season after this, and I'm not sure he'd be a defensive upgrade anyhow.

Niedermayer potentially meets the criteria, but I think it's more likely he would end up with the Devils given his history there. And, if I were the Caps, I'd be wary of trading for him anyway given that he'd cost a lot and he hasn't played that well this season.

Posted by: cainoo7x | January 11, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I don't want Kovalchuk unless it's just a #1 pick and a middling prospect.

I disagree with Ted, who said, in "Ted's Take," he'd rather win 2-1 than 8-1.

I'll take 8-1 anyday, as it allows your team the luxury of cruising through the 3rd Period and better balancing out the minutes.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 11, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

How is everyone so sure that Kovalchuk would be a rental? I would think that time and time again McPhee has shown that he knows more than he lets on. I mean how many people here thought that in early January we'd have close to 7 mil in cap room to play with? Based on McPhee and Ted's many comments, I don't think they'd trade for someone like him unless they could sign him long term.

If Semin is part of the deal, then yes Kovalchuk can be here and not just a rental. I can see him going in addition to one of our young goalies (we are loaded at goaltender and someone's going to end up going somewhere, at some point...we won't have Varly, Neuvy, and Holtby...) and maybe another player or prospect. But that's just me guessing.

And while I agree with how good the offense is, etc, isn't it a little bit exciting to think about adding a 50-goal scorer, with better health and more consistency than Semin, to this team? Drool. The defense and goaltending here, while not superstar level, are better than people give them credit for.

Anyway it's still all to specualte though. It's nice to have a team that's already loaded, but has cap room and lots of prospects to trade if something juicy comes up.

Posted by: southside721 | January 11, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised there wasn't a link to this story on Puck Daddy about the KHL's bench-clearing brawl, given that Sugden got a one-game suspension and a 150,000 ruble fine for his actions in it, and there were several other former Capitals involved!

Here is a link to the fight in question - when the dust had settled, not one player was left to play hockey! They'd all been ejected.

Here's Sean Leahy's report on the fight.

Posted by: irockthered | January 11, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I would not deal Semin for Kovalchuk.

Posted by: irockthered | January 11, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Semin, a goalie, and a number 1 pick for Kovalchuk. Hmmmm. That sounds awesome. to me. Upgrades a dangerous offense and brings value for our young goalies and clears up the logjam in that dept.

However, Kovalchuk wants $11 per year for a long time. The economics probably won't work out beyond this year or next. We still have to sign Backstrom. Nylander will count against the cap next year unless he's dealt or accepts an assignment again, plus we have young guys who will need to get paid in the coming years if they grow and mature like we all hope. I don't think you can have 2 guys making $25 million on your roster in the NHL these days. It really limits who you can keep and who you have to allow to leave.

That's a toughie.

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 11, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

...and I mean a combined $25 million, just to clarify

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 11, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Nyls wont count next year as he has lost his NMC at the end of this year, we can deal him as we like or assign to AHL.

Posted by: hbcapsfan | January 11, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

i a damn second.

At some point we're going to have to explore shopping a young goaltender...

Posted by: carsonspence | January 11, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

ok. Cool. Never mind about the Nyls thing. But I still think Kovie is too expensive for us to have long term. If we can rent hiim for this ars run and then trade him before the Free agnecy period and get something in return, I'm for that. Perhaps... Hmmm... Again, that's a tough one

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 11, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

There's no way anyone can contemplate bringing Kovalchuk on the Caps and giving him more than Ovechkin.

The only way to make it work, with the cap, next year, is to move Semin in the deal. And, even then, Kovy has to accept roughly $6.5M in salary for it to work. Here is current cap projection. Some players might get more, some less, but you can see there's only +/- $1M to play with.

Ovechkin (2008-2021) 9.538
Backstrom (signs 2010-2021) 6.500
Semin (impending UFA) 6.000
Flash (signs 2010-2013) 3.300
Knuble (impending UFA) 2.800
Laich (impending UFA) 2.067
Fehr (signs 2010-2012) 2.000
Chimera (signed thru 2012) 1.875
Steckel (2010-2013) 1.100
Bradley (impending UFA) 1.000
Johansson (est) 0.950
Perreault (w/bonus - impending RFA) 0.792
Laing (re-signs yearly) 0.550
S/T 13 Forwards 38.472
Green (2008-2012) 5.250
Poti (impending UFA) 3.500
Schultz (signs 2010-2012) 1.750
Alzner (w/bonus) 1.675
Erskine (impending UFA) 1.250
Carlson (EL 2009-2012) 0.846
Sloan (2010-2012) 0.700
Collins (impending UFA) 0.650
S/T 8 Defensemen 15.621
Varlamov (impending RFA) 0.822
Neuvirth (impending RFA) 0.822
S/T 2 Goalies 1.644
Total 23 Players 55.737
Cap Space 56.800
Available 1.063

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 11, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

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