Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Caps Draft Picks/Free Agency Period Starts Thursday

First off, HM apologizes for her total lack of coverage of this weekend's NHL Draft. Yes, I watched it but after a full weekend spent at a lacrosse tournament in sizzling 100 degree heat, I was just too spent to do anything once I got home but chill...literally. Yep, those kinds of days definitely make me yearn for the coolness of an ice rink  - it was brutal I tell you. As I'm sure you've probably heard, the Capitals picked up quite a few nice picks during the draft including a few more talented Russian players (shocking!).

Here's the lowdown on the new kids (and I do mean kids despite the fact that most of this year's draftees measured in at around an average of 6'1" and over - what are they feeding these youngsters these days):

-The Caps first round pick went to Russian center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who played played last season with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL. He tallied two goals and seven assists in 35 games last season while recording only 10 penalty minutes. Kuznetsov  represented Russia at the 2010 World Junior Championship and scored two goals in six games. He also played for Team Russia at the World Under-18 Championship in both 2009 and 2010. He captained Russia in 2010 and led his squad with five goals and seven assists in seven games.

-On the second day of the draft the Caps made a move for right wing Stanislav Galiev, who went as the 86th pick and was 20th-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. Galiev hails from Ovechkin's hometown of Moscow. He had 60 points (15 goals, 45 assists) in 67 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and led all QMJHL rookie scorers in the playoffs with 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 21 games.

-With the 112th pick, the team drafted German-born goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who split this past season with Belleville and Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League, led Windsor to the Memorial Cup (championship of the Canadian Hockey League). He posted a 23-15-2-5 record with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

-In a draft that saw an impressive number of players from the U.S. go in both rounds, the Capitals picked up Minnesota native Caleb Herbert. He recorded 55 points (26 goals, 29 assists) in 25 games as a center for Bloomington-Jefferson High School in Minnesota in 2009-10. He expects to play in the United States Hockey League next season before attending college.

-Finally, defenseman Samuel Carrier was chosen at number 176 in the fifth round. The Quebec native spent last season with Lewiston of the QMJHL.

GM George McPhee might have another busy week ahead as the NHL's free agency period starts on Thursday, July 1. The team made qualifying offers to nine players yesterday, including Jay Beagle, Chris Bourque, Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleischmann, Andrew Gordon, Boyd Gordon, Patrick McNeill, Zach Miskovic and Jeff Schultz. My pals over at On Frozen Blog did a great piece today on the Caps' current roster and how they could benefit from acquiring a few of the many UFAs that will hit the market in a few days.

Of course the days and weeks leading up to free agency are rife with rumours, keeping track of all of them is about as easy as tracking Lindsay Lohan on a pub crawl. Some of them are utterly crazy talk, like a Martin Brodeur for Alex Semin trade rumour that reared it's ridiculous head earlier this month. As if...

So HM will keep her ears to the ground if the Caps make any significant movement. In the meantime, please join me in a round of applause for the wonderful Capitals PR team, who just received their fourth straight Dick Dillman Award for the NHL’s Eastern Conference. This honor is given annually to the team judged to be the best in media relations by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA).

The Dillman Award honors the late Dick Dillman, a highly respected media relations guru for the Minnesota North Stars. Members of the PHWA are eligible to vote on the award, and voters are asked to consider multiple factors, including fairness, cooperation, efficiency, accuracy and presentation of media notes, quality of media guide and willingness to help facilitate interviews.

The Capitals’ media relations staff, overseen by vice president of communications Kurt Kehl, includes Nate Ewell, Paul Rovnak, Kelly Murray and Jeff Weinstein, as well as a number of game-night staffers.

Congrats to all - this honor is well-deserved. The Capitals PR team does an extraordinary job in accomodating traditional and new media alike as well as reaching out to the team's broad fan base!

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