The Capitals came to terms with two players over the past 24 hours, putting to rest any notion that GM George McPhee has been on a Tahitian vacation since the start of free agency. Many fans have expressed frustration that the team didn't jump on any "big" names once the free agency period started, while others don't want to have to trade away key pieces in the future for one season of glory (i.e. read this great post over at OFB about the tough decisions recently made by this year's Stanley Cup champions). Of course there are still plenty of free agents that haven't been signed (stick tap to From the Rink for this list of UFAs as of this afternoon). You can now scratch Rob Neidermayer and goaltender Evgeni Nabakov from the list as they are headed to new teams, with Nabby leaving the NHL for his home country of Russia to play in the KHL.
So while this is shaping up to be a pretty dull free agency period (with the exception of the Kovalchuk drama dragging on like an episode of The Bachelorette), the Capitals are still tying up loose ends. Yesterday saw the signing of forward Boyd Gordon to a one-year deal. "Gordo" is the longest tenured player on the team, after completing his seventh professional season with the Capitals in 2009-10. He registered four goals and six assists in 36 games. Unfortunately, Gordon's ice time was limited due to injury but he led the team with a 61.0% faceoff rate, which would have led the league had he taken enough draws to qualify. He ranked third on the team in average shorthanded ice time (2:39 per game) and had a goal and an assist, both while shorthanded, in the playoffs.
And today, defenseman Jeff Schultz signed a four-year contract worth a reported $11 million. Schultz, 24, played 73 games for the Capitals in 2009-10 and led the NHL with a +50 rating, the best single-season rating in franchise history. He became the first defenseman to lead the NHL in plus/minus rating since 2005-06 (Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden) and the first Capital to lead the league in that category. Offensively he recorded career highs in assists (20) and points (23) and averaged a career-high 19:51 of ice time per game. He led the team with 129 blocked shots.
So that leaves Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr as the only Capitals who might possibly be headed into arbitration. We'll have to wait and see if GMGM decides to tinker with his roster prior to the season. Meanwhile, as the Capitals' stellar PR staff gears up for next week's Development Camp and Fan Fest, they received some well-deserved kudos from The Hockey Writers. Unfortunately, looks like HM will be missing the action next week as I will be on vacation, but the PR team will be hard at work as usual, even taking time out during Development Camp to host a workshop for media-credentialed bloggers. The Caps have always been at the forefront of technology, recognizing the power of the internet and the hunger fans have for information outside of traditional news sources. Keep up the great work guys and gals!