On Wednesday, Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette spoke to the media following the Capitals’ moves during free agency. He discussed the newly-signed players and provided an update on how the team’s development camp has been going this week.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche this past season. He signed with Washington to a five-year contract that carries a $5.25 million cap hit. “He had a terrific year,” Laviolette said, “[He] brings a lot of experience…we’re really excited to have him.”
Signed to a three-year contract that carries a $1.1 million cap hit, Charlie Lindgren completed the next netminder duo for Laviolette’s team. “From what I understand, he’s a really great person, great team guy, and has had some good numbers as well, so definitely a new look in net for us and we’re really excited about it.
“I feel like he can really add to our defensive depth,” Laviolette said about newly-signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson. “He skates well, he moves the puck extremely well, he makes a real good pass coming out of the defensive zone, he adds to the offense when he can…just doing some research on him, a real good teammate and a real good person.” Gustafsson signed a one-year, $800,000 contract on Wednesday.
“Really, it’s just a different look, a different approach,” the head coach said about the new goaltending. He reiterated how Kuemper’s “experience and success” are significant, saying, “His numbers have been good. He’s big. He covers a lot of net. His numbers say he keeps the puck out of the net…I talked to people about him, not this year, but just in the past, and coaches [who] I’ve known know that he’s a difference maker.”
Laviolette mentioned the team’s development camp has been going well this week. His son Peter is also participating in this camp. Laviolette, Jr. wrapped up his fifth season at Plymouth State University this past spring. “They all look good. They’re good young players, so it’s great to see everyone out there, but when you have your son in there it changes the look on it a little bit and I thought he’s done a good job.”
“When I watched him out here, his stride looked good. His stride looked stronger. He looked like he was a little bit quicker,” Laviolette said on prospect Hendrix Lapierre. “He was a guy who came in and did some good things for us when we needed him to start the season last year.” Laviolette hinted that Lapierre is “certainly in the mix” to make the opening night roster.
On this week, Laviolette said, “Development camp is truly the right word for it…when you have young players and you’re trying to teach them—if you’re receptive, there’s no way that you can’t come to this week and leave here better. You have to leave here better. The skating coach was excellent. The nutritionist [and] the guest speakers were excellent.”
Laviolette hopes the players will take even the smallest percentage of what they gained over the week and continue to work and develop their skills. “It would be hard for any player to leave here and not be a better player…this is them as a group starting their journey and they’ll get to know each other and establish relationships.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 13, 2022
By Della Young