Caps Sign SabourinPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
The Capitals sat back and watched on Thursday as the NHL's annual free agent feeding frenzy began. Plenty of teams spent plenty of of money on plenty of middling players while Washington wisely waited it out. On Day 2, the Caps dipped a toe into the free agent waters. They signed veteran goaltender Dany Sabourin, a 29-year-old, 10-year pro with 57 games worth of NHL experience. Coming off a 121-point season, the Caps' needs are fewer than those of the other clubs in the league, and Washington also has some in-house options for those vacancies. Many of the general managers around the league have stated that they'll seek to patch their own problems via the trade route, so it's also possible that Washington could find a willing partner for a summer swap. With the luxury of a farm team that has won consecutive Calder Cup titles, the Caps could also try to integrate a few ripe and worthy prospects into their lineup. Making a trade or promoting a few kids would be far preferable to overpaying in the free agent market. Every July, dozens of free agent buys are made and far fewer result in happiness for the buyer. Washington's own memories of Phil Housley, Dmitri Mironov and Michael Nylander are fresh enough to make other options far more palatable. The prices paid to players in Thursday's opening of the annual shopping spree were occasionally exorbitant, frequently high, and rarely reasonable. Useful players are still available, and Washington should be able to lay claim to a bargain or two later this month simply by waiting for the dust to settle. In signing Sabourin, the Caps addressed an organizational need. Youthful netminders Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth are poised to take the reins in the District next season, with second-year pro Braden Holtby in line to take over the top gig at AHL Hershey. Varlamov and Neuvirth have both proven to be somewhat fragile thus far in their short careers, so it made sense to seek a veteran with some NHL experience to serve as Holtby's partner and offer some depth and insurance at the position. Enter Sabourin, who is 18-25-4 lifetime in parts of five NHL seasons with Calgary, Pittsburgh and Vancouver. He has a 2.88 GAA and an .898 save pct. in the NHL. A big body (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) who was a fourth-round draft choice (108th overall) of the Calgary Flames in 1998, Sabourin went 28-27 with a 2.65 GAA and a .915 save pct. at AHL Providence last season. Sabourin is 97-84-6 with a 2.56 GAA and a .914 save pct. in 206 career AHL appearances.
Three of the Capitals' eight arbitration-eligible restricted free agents filed for arbitration prior to Monday's 5 p.m. filing deadline. Center-left wing Tomas Fleischmann, right wing Eric Fehr and defenseman Jeff Schultz elected to have an independent arbitrator determine their salary for the