Former Caps debut with new clubs

Former Caps debut with new clubs
January 21, 2013, 2:00 am
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Six members of the 2011-12 Washington Capitals debuted with their new teams this past weekend to mixed results.

ALEXANDER SEMIN (Carolina Hurricanes):

Semin skated alongside Eric Staal and Zach Boychuk on the Hurricanes’ top-line in Saturday’s season opening 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers and was held without a point.

The Capitals’ 2002 first-round pick led all forwards with 23:03 worth of ice-time including a team-high 7:10 on the power play.  Despite his leading Carolina in PP ice-time, the Hurricanes went 0-for-6 with the man advantage.

Semin also put his new team shorthanded in the second period thanks to an offensive zone penalty (a cross check on Panthers goalie and former teammate Jose Theodore) and an unsportsmanlike penalty. 

Semin, 28, signed a one-year $7 million deal with Carolina last July and played 20 games in the Kontinental Hockey League during the NHL lockout. 

DENNIS WIDEMAN (Calgary Flames): 

Wideman led the Flames with four blocked shots and skated 22:28 (two seconds shy of the team lead) as the Flames fell in their season opener 4-1 to the San Jose Sharks.

Wideman has started the season quarterbacking Calgary’s No.1 power play unit which features four forwards in Jarome Iginla, Michael Cammalleri, Curtis Glencross and Alex Tanguay. 

Wideman, 29, signed a five-year $26.25 million deal with Calgary last June. 

TOMAS VOKOUN (Pittsburgh Penguins): 

For the first time in more than ten years, Vokoun has started an NHL season playing behind an undisputed No.1 goalie in Pittsburgh’s Marc Andre Fleury.

While Fleury started the Penguins’ season-opener on Saturday, Vokoun stopped 31 of 34 shots in Pittsburgh’s 6-3 win Sunday against the New York Rangers. It was Vokoun’s first game since March 29, 2012 when he suffered a season-ending groin injury with the Capitals. 

Vokoun, 36, signed a two-year $4 million deal with Pittsburgh last June. 

JEFF HALPERN (New York Rangers):

Halpern has been the Rangers fourth line center in each of their first two games this season where his linemates have included tough guys Mike Rupp, Arron Asham and Brandon Segal. 

Halpern is still seeking his first point of the season, has a minus-2 rating through two games, and has won seven of 17 faceoffs. 

Halpern was a healthy scratch for 12 of Washington’s final 15 regular-season games last year and in each of the Caps’ first 12 playoff games. The 36-year-old signed a one-year $700,000 deal with New York last July.

CODY EAKIN (Dallas Stars):

Eakin made the Stars opening night lineup and has served as the team’s fourth line center in each of their first two games of the season.

The former Capitals prospect has seen limited ice time – he skated a team-low 8:55 in Sunday’s 1-0 loss in Minnesota-but was used multiple times on the Dallas penalty kill in Saturday’s 4-3 win against Phoenix.

The former Capitals prospect was leading the AHL’s Houston Aeros with 23 points in 34 points before joining Dallas at the end of the NHL lockout. The Caps sent Eakin to Dallas as part of the deal that brought Mike Ribeiro to D.C.

KEITH AUCOIN (New York Islanders):

Two days after joining the New York Islanders, Keith Aucoin centered the team’s fourth line in Saturday’s 2-1 season opening loss to the New Jersey Devils. 

Aucoin was held without a point, had an even-rating, and won eight of 10 faceoffs in 12:56 worth of ice-time. 

Aucoin, 34, signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs last July but was claimed off waivers by the Islanders last Thursday.

MIKE KNUBLE (Grand Rapids Griffins - AHL) 

Knuble is expected to debut with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League as early as Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Barons.

Knuble failed to make the Detroit Red Wings despite a training camp invite last week.  He has reportedly agreed to a 25-game pro try out with Grand Rapids which would still allow him to sign with another NHL organization should a team come calling.