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Caps ink two more college free agents on Tuesday

Caps ink two more college free agents on Tuesday

The Caps inked a couple of college free agents on Tuesday, signing defenseman Kris Bindulis and center Hampus Gustafsson to entry level contracts.

Bindulis agreed to a three-year deal, while Hampus’ pact is for two years.

Both players will report to Hershey on a tryout agreement for the remainder of this season.

The Caps have been aggressive so far in the college free agent market.

A week ago, the club signed Alaska-Anchorage forward Mason Mitchell to a two-year deal entry level deal.

Listed at 6 foot 3, 180-pounds, Bindulis had a goal and 11 assists in 28 games as a freshman for Lake Superior State this season. 

Prior to Lake Superior State, Bindulis played for Aston of the North American Hockey League, where he served as the Rebels’ home captain and registered 10 goals and 36 assists in 57 games.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman called the 21-year-old Lativian “raw” but “talented.” Bindulis also participated in the Capitals development camp last year.

Gustafsson, meantime, amassed 15 goals and 11assists in 36 games for Merrimack College this season, leading the Warriors in goals and ranking second in points.

Listed at 6 foot 4, 205-pounds, the 23-year-old Swede is a nominee for the 2017 Hobey Baker Award and served as an alternate captain for Merrimack the last two seasons. In his four-year college career, he recorded 87 points (38 goals and 49 assists) in 146 career games.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Voice of the Capitals

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Voice of the Capitals

Miss hearing the silky smooth sound of John Walton on the radio? Well, have we got a treat for you!

Voice of the Capitals, John Walton joined this week's podcast to show JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir how this whole audio thing is done. They discuss the team's offseason moves and what prospects they are most excited to see compete in camp.

RELATED: With short term future secure, Caps' Grubauer eager to get to work

Like what you hear? Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play and give us a good review!

For the latest Caps coverage be sure to follow @CSNCapitals@TarikCSN@JillCSN and @JJReganCSN on Twitter.

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With short-term future secure, Caps' Grubauer eager to get to work

With short-term future secure, Caps' Grubauer eager to get to work

The days leading up to the expansion draft in June were jittery ones for Caps backup goalie Philipp Grubauer, who suspected there was a decent chance he’d get selected by the Golden Knights.

“A little stressful,” Grubauer acknowledged Tuesday following an informal practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

“We were on the phone every day or like every couple of minutes basically.”

Being left somewhat in the dark was an nerve-racking experience, even for someone who makes a living dealing with stressful situations on the ice.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS MOST IMPORTANT PLAYERS

“Nobody knew what was going on,” he said, referring to his camp’s attempts to figure out which direction Las Vegas GM George McPhee might chose. “We just kinda watched from Germany.”

Grubauer said he learned of his fate—McPhee ended up selecting defenseman Nate Schmidt instead—about a day before the Golden Knights’ picks were revealed during the league’s annual award show.

“Whatever happened, happened,” Grubauer said. “Everybody was a little bit surprised. But I’m glad I got to stay here in Washington another year.”

A couple of weeks later, Grubauer, who entered the offseason as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract extension with Washington.

With the start of training camp still a month away, Grubauer said he decided to join the Caps’ informal skates a few weeks earlier than usual to take advantage of the team’s facility and staff and ensure that he’s as sharp as possible when camp begins. The almost daily 70-minute sessions are run by strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish and they’ve started to ramp up in recent days as more players trickle back into town.

“We wanted to come back little bit earlier, practice here and train here with Nemo,” Grubauer said. “The facility provides us with a great, great opportunity to get ready for training camp. And there were a couple of guys are here so I wanted to come back a little bit earlier than usual to prepare myself.”

RELATED: 2017-18 CAPITALS SEASON PREVIEW

When camp begins, the Caps’ goaltending tandem will remain unchanged—Braden Holtby will be the starter and Grubauer will be the backup—but there will be a handful of new faces in the locker room. Karl Alzner, Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Daniel Winnik and Kevin Shattenkirk have moved on and will be replaced by younger, less experienced players as the Caps squeeze a more top-heavy roster underneath the salary cap.

Grubauer echoed John Carlson’s recent comments on this summer’s roster retooling, saying he hopes the infusion of new blood might be a good thing for a Caps’ team that saw little change the previous two years.

“We’re going to be a little younger than last year,” Grubauer said. “If you go through the league, like Toronto is a little bit younger, Edmonton is a little bit younger, so I think that’s where the trend is going. I think that could really be our advantage—some new blood, some new energy.”

As far as Grubauer’s personal goals for the upcoming season, the 25-year-old aims to pick up where he left off last season. In fact, it could be argued that he was the league’s best No. 2. Among goalies who played in at least 20 games, Grubauer had the second best goals against average (2.04) and was tied for the fourth best save percentage (.926).     

“Just be patient, work really hard and be successful out there, be ready to go every time,” Grubauer said, asked how he intends to approach another season as Holtby's backup. “I want to be ready to follow where I left off last year, keep improving and working hard, get better every day and we’ll see what will happen.”