The Capitals made their way back to Washington last night immediately following their 3-0 loss to the Blue Jackets in Columbus. The Capitals end their 12th annual Mentor’s trip with a 1-1 record, pushing their overall ‘Mentor’s Trip’ record to 16-7. The Capitals are off today, and don’t play again until Friday in New Jersey, so there is a little time to round up all the bits and pieces of news currently lingering in my notebook. Here are the latest “shavings” for a rainy Tuesday here in the Nation’s Capital.
Richard Panik – Richard Panik had just 8:09 of ice time Monday night’s 3-0 loss to the Blue Jackets, the lowest TOI for the team. So far this season he is averaging 11:28 in ice time and has just two goals and an assist in 25 games played. That’s not going to cut it for a third liner, making $2.75 million for the next three and a half seasons. His minutes and scoring are better suited for the 4th line, but that’s a pricey 4th liner. Something needs to be done here. On the positive side, Panik has a CF% 55.68 at 53.90 offensive zone starts. That’s third best behind Martin Fehervary (Hershey) and Travis Boyd. It’s not quite time to panic, but the hour is getting late for Panik.
Jakub Vrana – When the Capitals re-signed Jakub Vrana last summer to a bridge deal for two years at $3.35 Million AAV, not much was made of the actual deal specifics. Most were just happy he finally re-signed (including myself). Well, if Vrana keeps up current level of production, the Capitals will need to backup the Brinks truck the summer after next, the same time they are to set to re-sign Alex Ovechkin. The money will be there for both of them, but in hindsight, it might have been better to go for a longer term last summer. As you may recall, the negotiations dragged out for a significant amount of time, so it’s difficult to say who was asking for what, and maybe the Capitals were trying to do just that. Vrana could be looking at nearly double his current pay.
Nick Jensen – Bad exit passes by defensemen will happen. Bad lines changes will also happen, it’s just part of the game. In Monday night’s 3-0 loss to Columbus, Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen had the unfortunate timing of doing both on the same play, and it cost the Capitals a goal. In the video below, Jensen, upper left quadrant, makes an errant exit pass, then determines it’s safe to exit the ice, with Radko Gudas coming on the ice in his place. Gudas jumps on the ice, but Columbus is already by him. He never had a chance.
Jensen attempts to clear, then exits ice, leaving Gudas in trouble. pic.twitter.com/kNHdLvbb0F
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) December 17, 2019
Coach Oshie – If you missed it, a wonderful moment occurred during the Caps-Blue Jackets game last night in Columbus, as all of the Capitals mentors FaceTimed with T.J. Oshie’s father, Tim, who was back home in Seattle. T.J.’s Father-in-law, Dave Cosgrov, initiated the call from the Mentor’s suite. Tim has been battling Alzheimer’s and was unable to make the trip.
Trade Freeze – The NHL Christmas trade freeze begins December 19 (and is lifted Dec. 27). There have been 14 trades since the season started, with Taylor Hall by far the biggest name involved so far. As we noted earlier this week, don’t expect much from the Capitals on this front, as salary cap, and frankly, a damn good hockey team, will discourage much if any movement.
Women invitation: The ECHL has announced that four members of the U.S. women’s hockey team will participate in its Jan. 22 all-star game in Wichita, Kan. Dani Cameranesi, Kali Flanagan, Gigi Marvin and Annie Pankowski each will be assigned to one of the four 3-on-3 all-star teams and participate in the skills competition. “We are excited to join forces with the ECHL to promote and grow the game of hockey” said Jayna Hefford, the operations consultant for the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association. “We truly appreciate the support of the ECHL.”
Staying put: Arizona Coyotes officials confirmed the team will stay in Glendale for another season. The team is drawing larger crowds to Gila River Arena than it has in years. “We will absolutely play the 2020-2021 NHL season in Gila River Arena,” Coyotes CEO Ahron Cohen said in a statement. The Coyotes, playoff contenders this year, are averaging 14,244 fans a year, 28th in the 31-team NHL. But it’s up more than 1,200 from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. The team, which has an annual lease with arena manager ASM Global, has been clear that Gila River Arena isn’t a viable arena in the long run.
Ilya Kovalchuk – was placed on unconditional waivers this week by the Kings. The question is, what’s next for Kovulchuk? Boston might be in the plans.
Per source Ilya Kovalchuk wants to sign with a contender and would be OK with a minimum salary. Bruins are interested
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) December 17, 2019
Josh Ho-Sang – According to TSN, Ho-Sang will make his return to the New York Islanders organization on Tuesday after two-plus months away from the team, general manager Lou Lamoriello confirmed. Ho-Sang will report to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 10 weeks after being told not to join the team as Lamoriello attempted to meet his trade request.
By Jon Sorensen