Last weekend the 2011 NHL Draft came and went and for the Capitals it was...well "boring"...according to many analysts and to some extent they are right. The Caps traded their 1st round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for the rights to restricted free agent Troy Brouwer...or as I thought when I first heard the deal...WHO? I know Patrick Kane, I know Jonathan Toews but I didn't recognize the name Brouwer, even after I went to the Caps/Hawks game last season.
After a quick google search and doing a little reading up on the newest Cap I was impressed with the deal pulled off by GMGM. I immediately saw him as a guy who could produce, much like he did before making the NHL, read that he can play on any line, which is good since Boudreau LOVES to move guys around, and saw him as a viable option on a Power Play that suffered mightily last year and could use a jolt. I also saw a video of him and his Beagle and well...I'm a huge fan of Troy now. Of course it also lead me to believe this may be the end of Brooks Laich in Washington...
But Brooksie wouldn't do that to the city he's called home for the past 6 seasons. Today it was announced that the Capitals and Laich agreed to a 6 year - $27 million deal and Brooks had told the Caps before the draft he intended to stay. Its a long deal, for a lot of money, and apparently I'm one of the few or only Caps fans that like the deal. Many of the same guys saying sign him for whatever it takes are now complaining because of what it does to the cap, that he got too much money and the deal is too long. In this weak free agent class Brooks Laich was gonna get PAID whether it was here or somewhere else. I'd rather have a guy that is heading into his prime and had been dependable and is a glue guy over trying to replace him with someone older or less experienced or overpaying for what someone did somewhere else and end up getting no production out of him like has happened in the past...yeah I'm casting a death stare at you Michael Nylander. So while the deal is a bit excessive it could also be much MUCH worse and I can live with it...even if it turned out to be a terrible deal and crippled the franchise...that part won't happen. Also as seen with the trades of Brian Campbell, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter at the draft teams, especially bad ones or ones in need of taking on salary (sometimes both...well hey there Florida) trade for bad contracts down the line so Laich will be movable.
Its also been reported that the Caps and Semyon Varlamov are soon expected to part ways. I'm slightly torn on this (groin pun not intended). I fear Varly will be much like many former players from DC teams and play better once he leaves the team, in this case his health will hold up. If its true that Varly is done here because he wants to start or feels disrespected its understandable but the ice isn't always as frozen in another rink and Neuvirth has had his fair share of injuries too so Varly is a tweak away from having a shot at the starting job again. I guess we'll find out Friday when free agency begins though Dmitry Chesnokov is reporting that the situation between the sides should be resolved before then...we shall see.
Also on July 1 or within a few days/weeks I'm expecting Jeff Halpern to sign his final NHL contract, one that allows him to return home to DC to finish his career where it began, unless he's traded again. I'd guess it'll be a two year deal for around $1.5-$2 over the length of the contract