Tag Archives: Chicago Blackhawks

The Hour Of Troy Brouwer

By Adam Vingan

Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee made it abundantly clear that he was less than thrilled with the talent pool in this year’s NHL Draft class. As Friday’s first round slowly trudged along and the best available prospects began to disappear, McPhee stuck with his conviction and traded away the Caps’ 26th overall pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Troy Brouwer.

The Caps and Blackhawks did not officially announce the trade until around the 20th pick of the draft, which made it seem like the Caps might actually select a player despite McPhee’s hesitation. Yet, when asked about the trade afterwards, McPhee admitted that it was done before the Edmonton Oilers selected Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the No. 1 overall pick. Long before, as in earlier this week. McPhee’s response to why he waited so long to announce Brouwer’s acquisition? “Just a little drama, I guess.”

The consummate poker player strikes again.

“Even if this was a better draft, this the kind of guy you would’ve liked to insert into our lineup,” McPhee said to the media. “By 20, 21 all the guys we had interest in were gone, so it played out beautifully for us.”

Indeed it did. Brouwer is the kind of player that the Caps needed: a two-way player that can score (39 goals in his last two seasons with the Blackhawks) as well as he can throw his body around (he was fifth in the NHL with 262 hits last season). He can play with or without the puck and will certainly wreak havoc in front of the opposing team’s net. He can play both wings and knows what it is like to play on the top line, having complimented the finesse of Chicago’s top superstars, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

(Editor’s note: not to mention that he is also a FORMER ADMIRAL. I’m sorry. It had to be done)

Brouwer is set to become a restricted free agent next Friday, July 1, but the Caps would not have traded for him if they were not planning to sign him. He just completed a two-year,$2.05 million contract; his current cap hit is $$1,025,000 and it should not get much higher than that.

With Brouwer’s impending arrival, the Caps’ roster is about to shaken up even more so. Brouwer now gives Washington nine free agents to negotiate with that can be considered “regulars.” Matt Bradley’s days as a Cap are now surely numbered and Brouwer might be a “Plan B” if the Caps cannot re-sign Brooks Laich.

Of course, the biggest intangible that Brouwer brings to Washington is Stanley Cup experience; he is now the third current Cap (Jason Arnott, Mike Knuble) to have won a Stanley Cup. But what makes Brouwer different (and possibly better) when it comes to this experience is that his is fresh. Arnott won the Cup in 2000, while Knuble only played in three playoff games for the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98. Brouwer won the Cup a year ago and had four goals and eight points in 19 playoff games. Brouwer knows what it is like to win a Stanley Cup in today’s NHL, which cannot be said about the rest of the Caps’ current roster.

With their general manager not sold on any talent, the Caps decided to get a player that can make an impact now. Instead of selecting a prospect that probably would not have appeared in a game for Washington for at least a year, the Caps got a player that is a year removed from a Stanley Cup.

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Filed under Capitals, NHL, NHL Draft, NHL Offseason, Opinion, Player Profile

Caps Wrap: Knuble Dagger

Last season, the Washington Capitals played the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on a Sunday afternoon on NBC’s “Game Of The Week.” In that game, the Caps rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 in overtime. One day less than a year later, the Caps and Blackhawks did the same exact thing. While the route to get there was much different, the game wasn’t any less exciting. After allowing the tying goal with less than a minute left, the Caps struck back in overtime when Mike Knuble made a gorgeous move in the crease to flip the puck past Corey Crawford, giving Washington yet another 4-3 win over the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Forget “Chelsea Dagger.” This was “Knuble Dagger.”

  • Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. To be blunt, the Capitals are playing incredibly undisciplined hockey lately. The Caps were shorthanded four times Sunday and have committed four or more penalties in seven of their eight wins during their current winning streak. They may have killed off 31 of 34 penalties during this run, but that’s besides the point. It was an untimely penalty from Marcus Johansson with 1:50 to go that almost cost the Caps the game. The Blackhawks pulled Crawford and a 6-on-4 advantage for the NHL’s second-best power play almost guaranteed a goal. And Chicago got it. If the Caps are to make it far in the playoffs, they will have to stop taking bad penalties, especially at game-changing times.
  • Now to the good. Since returning Wednesday, Eric Fehr has played amazing hockey. He has two goals and an assist in three games with nine shots on goal. Fehr is crashing the net and getting chances because of it, scoring a power play goal in Wednesday’s 5-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers in such fashion and having the third-most shots on goal Sunday with five. He also had the wherewithal to find Matt Hendricks and Brooks Laich while behind the net to set up Laich’s goal in the third period. His return from an almost two-month absence is now being felt.
  • Marco Sturm has been quiet so far as a Cap with just one assist, but Jason Arnott and Dennis Wideman are proving to be invaluable additions. Arnott now has five points (2G, 3A) and Wideman (4A) is a plus-7 in Washington after joining them at minus-26. Wideman assisted on Arnott’s power play goal (which, by the way, was an absolute laser) and Knuble’s game-winner. There’s a reason why the Caps are undefeated since the trade deadline.

Washington’s eighth straight win put them just one point behind the idle Philadelphia Flyers for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Caps sent the fans home happy Sunday, but won’t get another chance to do that for 16 days as they head out on a season-defining six-game road trip starting Tuesday in Montreal. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament might be taking over Verizon Center, but what the Caps are doing now is truly March Madness. Spirits are high and fists are pumping. Oh yeah! Eight wins, yeah!

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