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Trotz: Lack of contract extension has '0.0 effect' on him, Caps

Trotz: Lack of contract extension has '0.0 effect' on him, Caps

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz says he isn’t worried about entering the final year of his contract.  

“No,” he said Friday, asked if it changes his approach at all. It has “0.0 effect on me, actually. Not at all. I think it might have [had] an effect 10, 12 years ago for me. Not now. It has zero effect. I’m not worrying about that at all.”

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In three seasons in Washington, Trotz has amassed a 156-63-27 record and won back-to-back Presidents' Trophies. But he also hasn’t managed to guide Alex Ovechkin and Co. beyond the second round of the playoffs.

Entering the final year of a contract is common for players. For coaches, it can be perceived this way: the decision-makers want to see progress before committing to the direction he wants to take the team.

At the draft last week, Brian MacLellan said there have not been any discussions about an extension for Trotz, though the general manager didn’t close the door on those talks starting later this summer.

“Maybe, it could,” MacLellan said. “We’ll see.”

Coaching in the final year of his deal is nothing new for Trotz, who turns 55 in a couple of weeks. He acknowledged that he was in a similar situation more than once during his 15-year tenure in Nashville.  

“Yeah,” he said. “I was there a long time.”

Asked if he expects talks on an extension to begin in the coming months, Trotz said he doesn’t plan to sweat it either way.

“When people want to talk, we’ll talk,” he said.

Last season, Trotz vaulted to sixth on the all-time wins list and currently has 713. By the end of next season, he could be fifth.

“I think I have a resume and I’ve been around the league long enough and proven myself that I don’t feel like it’s that big of a deal for me.”

He added: “I’m in a good spot. Maybe we’ll have our best year.”

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Jakub Vrana is really trying to not let the pressure get to him

Jakub Vrana is really trying to not let the pressure get to him

There is perhaps no one on the Capitals roster with more on the line in training camp than Jakub Vrana.

Depending on how he performs, Vrana could climb into the team’s top-six or he could fail to make the roster at all and potentially be sent back down to Hershey in the AHL.

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For a 21-year-old, it normally would not be an issue if he had to go back to the minors to further develop. As a first-round pick with questions about his focus in the AHL, as well as a clear hole in the top-six, there is a lot of pressure on Vrana's shoulders to prove he’s ready for the big leagues and he knows it.

“If you would think about [the pressure], you would probably kill yourself so I just try to don't think about it,” Vrana said to CSN after Wednesday’s morning skate. 

Vrana will make his preseason debut Wednesday in Montreal. In what could be a preview of the regular season lineup, Vrana will skate on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Barry Trotz stressed that it was important for the player not to read into anything in terms of who he plays with and where, but it is clear there will be a lot on the line for Vrana in Montreal.

“If he plays really well, it doesn't matter who he plays with, he'll make the hockey team,” Trotz said. “If he doesn't play well, then he won't have a chance to make the hockey team.”

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Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov team up for preseason game in Montreal

Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov team up for preseason game in Montreal

Two nights after opening the preseason with a loss in New Jersey, the Capitals will make a day trip to Montreal on Wednesday for Game 2 of the exhibition season.

And they’ll ice a completely new group of players.

Here’s how Coach Barry Trotz will have them line up:

Forwards
Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Vrana
Simpson-Stephenson-Smith-Pelly
Connolly-Pilon-Wilson
Sill-Albert-Peluso

Defense
Orpik-Hobbs
Jokipakka-Bowey
Siegenthaler-Williams

Goalies
Grubauer
Copley

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A few notes and observations from the skate:

  • The Caps made the first roster move of the preseason Wednesday morning, returning 2014 seventh rounder Kevin Elgestal to HC Vita Hasten. On Monday night in New Jersey, Elgestal got pickpocketed by Devils first overall pick Nico Hischier on Hischier’s nifty goal.
  • Coach Barry Trotz said the first significant round of cuts is coming Thursday, followed by another round over the weekend. The roster currently stands at 39 forwards, 18 defensemen and 7 goalies.
  • The stakes are high Wednesday night for a handful of players who are battling for spots. Among them: Vrana, Smith-Pelly, Peluso up front and Bowey on the backend. Vrana’s getting a look on the top line, Smith-Pelly is coming off his best day of practice on Tuesday, Peluso has looked good so far and Bowey needs a strong showing in the preseason to lock down a spot.
  • Trotz on Peluso, who is vying for the right wing spot on the fourth line: “He’s got pretty good hands for a man that’s known for other qualities. He’s a student of the game, works on his game. I like what he’s done in camp. We’ll see how he does tonight.”
  • Stephenson, a prospect who’s appeared in 13 games for the Caps the past two seasons, is the only player who will have appeared in both of the first two exhibition games. Stephenson can play center and wing. He’s also got to clear waivers in order to be sent to the minors. “He’s got a skillset that is NHL ready,” Trotz said. “Now it’s just can he showcase and be very consistent. If he does and has production, I think his chances are very good.” 
  • After taking a pair of faceoff penalties Monday night, Trotz said the coaches reviewed some video with the centers. There was also discussion about slashing fouls after the Caps were whistled for three infractions in Newark. “Players are really smart, and they will adjust,” Trotz said.

 

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