Washington Capitals

Quick Links

Worried about losing Nate Schmidt? George McPhee leaves door open to negotiate

Worried about losing Nate Schmidt? George McPhee leaves door open to negotiate

The NHL's expansion draft rules allowed for the teams to protect a specific number of players, but for rosters as stacked as the Capitals' that means they still stand to lose a significant player.

Washington will most likely lose either goalie Philipp Grubauer or defenseman Nate Schmidt. A starting caliber goalie is a valuable commodity, but on the Caps he is the backup behind Braden Holtby and with Ilya Samsonov in the system, it is a loss the team can swallow. Losing Schmidt would sting worse because the team does not have another top-four defenseman to replace him with.

Plus, everybody loves Schmidt.

The possibility of losing him is a nerve-wracking scenario for the team, but don't worry, the Caps can still talk their way out of this. Mafia boss Vegas general manager George McPhee just wants to know how much keeping Schmidt is worth to Washington.

RELATED: Caps' 10 most likely expansion draft targets for Vegas

The Caps aren't the only team worried about losing certain exposed players so McPhee has let his fellow general managers know they can negotiate over any player left exposed.

This is nice and all, but it also puts Washington general manager Brian MacLellan in a tough spot.

First, he would have to determine if Schmidt is a player worth making a deal to protect and if he is, just how high would he be willing to go? Before he even makes that call, however, he has to determine if Schmidt would even be McPhee's top choice. Of course there will be interest in Schmidt, but having a goalie like Grubauer available is pretty enticing. McPhee could also try to sign a free agent like Kevin Shattenkirk or T.J. Oshie. Even if MacLellan did not talk to Vegas at all, there's still a good possibility that they wouldn't take Schmidt as their expansion draft pick. For a Caps' team without many draft picks or prospects left to offer, MacLellan would be loath to offer Vegas any assets for a player they may not even want to take.

The important takeaway is that if Washington wants to keep a player like Schmidt who they project to have a top-four role next season, they can...for a price.

MORE CAPITALS: Salary cap rises, will it be enough to keep Oshie?

Quick Links

Braden Holtby — the skater — is a sight to behold


Braden Holtby — the skater — is a sight to behold

Braden Holtby is an elusive guy.

The 2015-16 Vezina Trophy winner might be large in stature, but keeps to himself. When you do see him, he's typically covered in layers of goalie pads or briefly chatting with the media following a game.

So imagine the surprise to see Holtby take the ice at Kettler IcePlex well before training camp begins with zero goalie pads on.

That's what took place on Monday morning. As several players hit the ice for some unofficial workout sessions, there was the 6-2 Saskatchewan native strolling onto the ice, with a regular stick, regular skates, regular gloves and Andre Burakovsky's helmet.


Frankly, it was a bit odd to see Holtby skate up and down the ice.

Maybe it's because we're used to seeing him in the crouch position. or maybe it's because we actually see his entire figure, not just a pile of leather pads.

But even goalies need to work on non-goalie skills. The more familiar you are with position players, the better you will be to stop them from scoring.

But man, seeing Holtby skate like a forward sure does take some time to get used to. 


Quick Links

The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 20 Taylor Chorney

USA TODAY Sports Images

The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 20 Taylor Chorney

Every player on an NHL team plays a role.

Some play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles. 

Today’s player: No. 20 Taylor Chorney.


One of the more interesting storylines during training camp is going to be the battle along the blue line and where everyone, particularly a veteran like Chorney, fits into the plan as the Caps skew a bit younger.

The top pair is easy to figure out; it’ll be Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

After that, it gets a little more interesting.

John Carlson will be on the second pair, perhaps with Aaron Ness.

If that's how things shake out, it would make sense to have Brooks Orpik anchor the third pair, especially if the No. 6 spot goes to a rookie since they'd surely benefit from the steady hand of a soon-to-be 37-year-old.

But will that spot go to a youngster like Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey or someone else? 

Or will it go to Chorney, a 30-year-old who's appeared in 141 NHL games spread over eight seasons for four clubs?

The Caps anticipate that Djoos and Bowey are closer to being NHL-ready than their other defenseman prospects.

Djoos lit up the AHL last season to the tune of 58 points in 66 games and the team needs to replace some offense. Bowey, meanwhile, has the look of a promising two-way defenseman.

But here’s the drawback—and where Chorney, in my opinion, fits into the equation.

Neither Djoos nor Bowey have done it yet. And until they do, no one can be 100-percent sure they’re completely ready to handle the everyday duties that the NHL demands. 

Chorney, to that end, has a significant advantage in experience, at a position where it matters a lot. He appeared in 18 games last season and a career-high 55 games the year before, also with the Caps. 

The bottom line: I suspect Chorney, who is entering the final year of his contract, will open camp penciled in as the team’s No. 6/7.

I also expect that he'll play a decent amount this season, maybe more than last year but perhaps less than 2015-16. I could even see him in the opening night lineup. Eventually, though, the Caps will want to see Djoos, Bowey or another youngster squeeze their way past Chorney and into the lineup full-time.        

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
— No. 22 Pheonix Copley
No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly