Back In The SaddlePosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
After spending more than a week back home in and around Chicago during a much-needed and richly enjoyed vacation, I am back in the greater DC area. In this business, you can't really take a vacation until the team's annual summer development camp is in the rear view. From then until the start of rookie camp in early September, there generally isn't much going on in the hockey landscape. Ah, but that wasn't the case this time around. Where to start? Let's see, Tomas Fleischmann inked a one-year deal for $2.6 million to avoid an arbitration hearing with the Capitals. Flash's salary came in right about where most expected, and now all of Washington's restricted free agents are under contract for the upcoming (I swear it's upcoming, the summer simply can't last forever) 2010-11 campaign. Assuming a 22-man roster (13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders), I've got the Caps around $55.8 million for the upcoming season, leaving roughly $4.4 million worth of salary cap breathing room. To me, there isn't much (if anything) of interest remaining in the free agent scrap heap. Unless there are more trades in the works, I'm in favor of banking the cap space and letting it accumulate for a possible trade deadline acquisition or two. Every team has holes, and the Caps are no exception. But the Caps -- with a farm system that has produced three of the last five Calder Cup champions -- have some talent and depth in the system. I'd prefer to see how some of the younger kids do with a shot at the show before making any radical moves. That's just me. Your mileage will vary. The Caps dealt 2008 draftee Stefan Della Rovere to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for left wing D.J. King. Della Rovere, who participated in the Caps' summer development camp last month, was Washington's seventh choice (204th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. In this swap, the Caps added some size and toughness, dealing a prospect who is a few years shy of being ready for NHL duty for a guy who has played 101 games in the league. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound King has notched 27 fighting majors in those 101 games. His presence in the lineup will hopefully deter opponents from taking liberties against some of the Caps' more skilled players. We also learned last week that Washington Post writer Tarik El-Bashir will be leaving the Capitals beat to cover Georgetown hoops, NASCAR, boxing and MMA for the paper. Tarik is a diligent reporter who helped define what beat coverage should be in this ever-changing era of sports media and new media coverage. He logged countless miles and hardly ever got a day off or missed a practice or morning skate. We had our differences here and there over the years, but we also shared a lot of good times and good meals on the road during that span. His presence on the beat will be missed, and we wish him all the best in the future. Katie Carerra takes over the Caps' beat for The Post, and we welcome her and give her our best wishes as well. Ex-Caps defenseman Brian Pothier, traded to Carolina at the March 3 trade deadline this year, signed a contract to play for Geneva-Servette of the Swiss Elite League last week. Pothier, one of the classiest guys ever to don a Caps sweater, has an out clause should an NHL team come calling with a better deal between now and August 15. We wish Pothier all the best in Switzerland, which is by all accounts a terrific place to live and play hockey. Pothier and his family are sure to benefit from their stay there. Finally, defenseman Shaone Morrisonn departed via free agency yesterday, inking a two-year deal for an annual average value of $2.075 million with the Buffalo Sabres. Mo spent more than six years in the Washington organization, playing in 377 games with the Caps. Acquired from Boston in the March 3, 2004 deal that sent Sergei Gonchar to the Bruins, Morrisonn departs the District tied for 11th (with Rick Green) among all defensemen on the franchise's games played list. During the last decade (from 2000-01 through 2009-10), only Alex Ovechkin (396 games) and Brooks Laich (392) played more games for the Caps than did Morrisonn. All the best to Mo in Buffalo. Except, of course, when the Swords are facing the Caps.
I had a brief conversation about durability with Caps' assistant general manager Don Fishman yesterday, and it led me to do some light research. Since we're in the single digit days of August and there's literally nothing happening outside of the Kovalchuk drama, I figured I'd share my findings.