Alex Ovechkin is a married man.
Ovechkin tweeted out a picture on Sunday of him and his fiance, Nastya Shubskaya, wearing their wedding bands.
Это счастье❤️ pic.twitter.com/SNu4aXnRnJ— Alex Ovechkin (@ovi8) August 28, 2016
Capitals spokesman Sergey Kocharov confirmed that Ovechkin did indeed tie the knot recently.
Congrats to the happy couple!
It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.
Team: Philadelphia Flyers.
How they did last season: 41-27-14 (96 points); 5th in the Metropolitan Division; 7th in the Eastern Conference. Lost in the first round to the Capitals, 4-2.
Notable acquisitions: RW Dale Weise; C Boyd Gordon; D T.J. Brennan (two-way contract); and LW Roman Lyubimov (two-way).
Notable departures: C Sam Gagne; C Ryan White; C RJ Umberger; and D Evgeny Medvedev.
When they will play the Caps: Dec. 21 in Philly; Jan. 15 in Washington; Feb 22 in Philly; and March 4 in Philly.
Analysis: The Flyers surged into the playoffs last spring, riding a 15-6-2 hot streak ignited, in part, by no-nonsense first-year head coach Dave Hakstol, the emergence of rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (46 points), a career-year from Wayne Simmonds (32 goals) and a breakout campaign from Brayden Schenn (59 points).
After pushing the Presidents’ Trophy winning Capitals to six games in April, the Flyers had the look of a team that was a tweak or two away from being really good.
Then the offseason came and went without a whole lot happening. It shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise given the Flyers’ proximity to the salary cap ceiling. But it was still, in a word, underwhelming.
GM Ron Hextall’s biggest moves, in fact, were the signing Weise and Gordon, a pair of bottom-six forwards. Weise had one goal in 19 regular season and playoff games for Chicago after the Blackhawks acquired the big winger at the deadline from Montreal. Gordon, on the other hand, is a 32-year-old fourth-line faceoff specialist who broke into the NHL with the Capitals.
So, yeah, that’s pretty much it.
Are the Flyers any better off? Marginally. Maybe.
The grand plan, it seems, is for the improvement to come from within the organization in the form of a bounce back seasons from a few key vets and the emergence of a prospect or two.
Topping the list of bounce back candidates is Jakub Voracek, who missed nine games and saw his point total side from 81 to 55. It could be argued that Claude Giroux belongs in this category, too. His point totals have gone 86-73-67 the past three years. The 28-year-old team captain possesses top 10-scoring talent; the Flyers need him to get there again.
As for the prospects, the Flyers have one that many believe is ready to contribute: defenseman Ivan Provorov, the No. 7 overall pick in 2015. If the 19-year-old proves he belongs, there’s a chance Provorov (21 goals and 52 assists in 62 games for Brandon of the WHL) could give the Flyers’ blue line an offensive jolt similar to the one it got from Gostispehere last year.
Season prediction: I’m not confident in the Flyers’ chances of returning to the postseason.
If goalies Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth—both in the final year of their contracts—push one another, I suspect Philly could squeak in again. Philly finished tied for fifth in team save percentage last season (.917).
If they just miss out, it’ll be due to one reason: After finishing 22nd in goals (2.57 per) last season, they needed to add some proven scoring talent and they did not. Hextall wanted in on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes, but the Hobey Baker winner ended up signing with the Rangers.
In a league where goals are increasingly difficult to come by, the Flyers need more of them. And, after poring over the projected lineup for the 2016-17, it’s hard to see where those goals are going to come from.
2016-2017 NHL TEAM PREVIEWS
Caps prospect Ilya Samsonov got his first taste of Caps hockey in July as he attended development camp. Though communication was a challenge considering he doesn't speak English, it sounds as if Samsonov enjoyed his time in Washington.
"I had the most positive impressions," Samsonov said in an interview with Sports Express as translated by a native speaker. "It was interesting to see how they work overseas."
Samsonov's hockey career has been spent playing in Russia in both the KHL and MHL, the Minor Hockey League, making development camp his first taste of North American hockey. He played well and also seemed to enjoy the time he spent learning from head coach Barry Trotz.
"[Trotz] is a great coach, great guy, always positive, gives great advice," Samsonov said of the Caps' bench boss.
But don't take that to mean he will be suiting up for a game at the Verizon Center any time soon.
The 19-year-old goalie remains under contract with his KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, for another two years. Samsonov has no intention of breaking that contract, but he did say both teams remain in contact.
"Capitals are not going to do anything without talking to Metallurg first," Samsonov said. "Everyone is in touch, we are working with the goaltending coach from Metallurg and his colleague from the Caps, Mitch Korn. We have not talked about the future yet, I am planning on finishing my contract with Metallurg."
While it may be some time before Samsonov signs with the Caps, Samsonov is already preparing for life in the NHL and is learning English. Though he said the process is "a work in progress" he will soon get some help form Trotz's son, Tyson, who teaches English in Russia.
"All summer we were at various training camps, but now I am going back to Magnitogorsk and will start learning the language," Samsonov said.
The Caps would no doubt love to avoid another situation like they had with Evgeny Kuznetsov who re-signed with this KHL team for two years in 2012 thus delaying his arrival in Washington. It's good then to hear that Samsonov enjoyed his brief stay and remains in contact with his fellow countrymen who are already on the team.
Said Samsonov, "All Russian Caps players seem to enjoy their life in D.C."
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