Nene and Kevin Seraphin kicked off their respective Olympic tournaments with a win and a loss respectively. I have yet to go back and watch more than highlights from Brazil's win over Australia, but outside of seeing how Nene fits in with his team's interior bigs, all we want is him to emerge from London healthy. Oh, win a medal, sure.As for Seraphin, after providingsignificant contribution during France's run-up to the Olympics, perhaps fears over his early foul trouble contributed to him only playing eight minutes. I also think facing a U.S. team, that fequently went "small" with LeBron James at center or at least not always using a traditional big man was a poor matchup for the 6-foot-10 wide body. Former George Washington forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu knocked down 12 of 16 free throws and tallied 22 points in Great Britain's 95-75 loss to Russia. He also made 5 of 9 field goal attempts. Might have taken more if Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng didn't chuck up 27 shots (Deng scored 26 points, but missed 19 of those attempts).Tony Skinn started and scored seven points in Nigeria's 60-56 win over Tunisia. The former George Mason guard dished out a team-high three assists, offsetting an 0 of 3 effort from beyond the arc. Ex-Terp Ekene Ibekwe did not play for Nigeria.Sarunas Jasikevicius, considered by some oneof the top FIBA players over the last decade, had six points and four assists, but Lithuania was routed in the second half by Argentina. Linas Kleiza, who played two seasons locally at Montrose Christian, finished with team-highs 20 points and 7 rebounds.
The Capitals acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on Monday to bolster the blue line for the team's quest for the Stanley Cup. Here's what you need to know about the newest Cap.
1. Shattenkirk is a right-shooting defenseman
This is why they got him. The Capitals are the best team in the NHL with only one notable weakness: Right-shot defensemen. The team had only two in Matt Niskanen and John Carlson. Prospect Madison Bowey likely would have served as depth for the playoffs, but an injury to his ankle meant Bowey would not get a chance to gain any NHL experience in the latter half of the season, leaving the cupboard completely bare. MacLellan added depth defenseman Tom Gilbert from Los Angeles, but he swung for the fences with Shattenkirk, giving the team three right-handed defensemen to balance out the team’s defensive pairs.
2. Shattenkirk will almost certainly be a rental
It was initially surprising to hear Shattenkirk was on the market considering the St. Louis Blues will likely make the playoffs this year. On the final year of his contract, however, the Blues decided not to let him walk away for nothing and made it known he was available. But Washington was not the first team to come calling. According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Blues had a trade in place with another team, but Shattenkirk nixed the deal by refusing a seven-year, $42 million contract extension. For you non-math majors out there, that’s an average annual value of $6 million. It certainly looks like Shattenkirk is dead set on maxing his value on the open market as a free agent this summer. Considering that the Caps likely won’t have the money to re-sign both Karl Alzner and T.J. Oshie this offseason, they won’t suddenly have the money to re-sign a player who turned his nose at a contract that paid him $6 million per year.
3. This is the second time in his career that Shattenkirk was traded midseason
Worried about how Shattenkirk will mesh with the Caps? This isn’t the first time he has had to adjust to a new team on the fly. Shattenkirk was traded to St. Louis by the Colorado Avalanche in 2011, his rookie year. In his first game with the Blues, he tallied an assist. He would go on to record 17 points in 26 games with St. Louis that season.
4. The Capitals weren’t the only team interested in Shattenkirk
As referenced above, the Blues had a deal in place with another team weeks before Monday's deal got done. That team is believed to be the Tampa Bay Lightning. But there were also some Metropolitan contenders kicking the tires on the veteran defenseman. Steve Zipay of Newsday reported the New York Rangers were interested as were the Pittsburg Penguins. In the end, however, the high price it took to acquire Shattenkirk kept both the Rangers and the Penguins out of the running. MacLellan dismissed the idea that the trade had anything to do with blocking Shattenkirk from the competition in a conference call with the media on Tuesday, but that doesn’t change the fact that Shattenkirk coming to Washington means he’s not going to New York or Pittsburgh.
5. Shattenkirk is just one of four defensemen to rank in the top-10 in goals, assists and points this season
We all know what Shattenkirk cost, but what will he add? Shattenkirk is a strong player on both ends of the ice. He’s not afraid to be physical or even drop the gloves on occasion. Worried about an inconsistent Caps’ power play? Shattenkirk is an exceptional power play defenseman who can certainly bolster Washington’s attack on the man advantage. His offensive production is solid with 11 goals (5th among all NHL defensemen), 31 assists (7th among NHL defenseman) and 42 points (tied for 4th among NHL defensemen).
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NEW YORK—Although Matt Niskanen is expected to return Tuesday night against the Rangers, his absence the past two games made one thing abundantly clear to Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan: he needed bolster the blue line in the event a key defenseman gets hurt in the playoffs.
So, on Monday night, MacLellan made a bold move, acquiring former All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from the Blues.
“We’ve always talked about defensive depth,” MacLellan said on a conference call with reporters. “If a top-4 guy goes down, what are we going to do? I think that played a big part in the decision. The timing of Nisky’s injury where he missed two games maybe created the urgency to pursue it more aggressively.”
MacLellan added: “This gives us insurance if something like that happens where one of our top guys misses a few games.”
The Blues’ asking price, according to MacLellan, was “in line” with the cost for similar top tier rentals in recent years. As part of the deal, the Caps sent a first round draft pick, prospect Zach Sanford and a conditional pick to St. Louis.
“Every year, to me, it’s a first plus a prospect for the top [unrestricted free agent] guys, and it goes from there,” MacLellan said. “I think the market is fairly similar to what it’s been in the past. So this is in line with what’s happened previously.”
MacLellan said he expects the coaching staff to use the final 21 games of the regular season to figure out where Shattenkirk best fits into the lineup, at even strength and on the power play.
Shattenkirk is expected to meet the team in New York and make his Capitals' debut at Madison Square Garden.
MacLellan also said he consulted T.J. Oshie and Brooks Orpik prior to making the deal. Oshie played with Shattenkirk in St. Louis; Orpik played with him on Team USA.
“I’ve done as much homework as I can on the person,” MacLellan said. “I’ve talked to T.J. Oshie. I’ve talked to Brooks Orpik [about] what kind of guy he is, how would he fit in, what’s his personality like, do the guys like him. I did as much as I could on that side of it to reassure us that he’s a good fit personality wise.”
MacLellan acknowledged that bringing on a big minute blueliner such as Shattenkirk could diminish other players' roles. But he hopes those players will be able to see the bigger picture.
“When you bring in a player of this stature, there’s an excitement, an energy that goes throughout the room,” MacLellan said. “Everybody gets pumped up for the last part of the season. They get excited. You can never tell what it does to the chemistry.”
“As far as the on-ice stuff, there’s a degree of uncertainty,” he added. “It changes roles a little bit. People get less ice time. People get less power play time. I guess the hope is players and coaches and everybody manages it, and that the overall philosophy is everyone is doing what’s best for this team to be successful.”
And what constitutes successful at this point?
“Winning a championship,” MacLellan said.