Will Bruce Boudreau return as the Washington Capitals head coach? Will management seek outside help for their roster? Do they need major changes? Read on for the latest.
NHL.COM: Corey Masisak reported changes were “certain” for the Washington Capitals in the wake of their elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs, though the scope of those changes remain to be seen. Team captain Alexander Ovechkin and Mike Knuble both said they hope there won’t be major roster changes, while Brooks Laich defended the coaching staff, saying he and his teammates were to blame for losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. GM George McPhee subsequently said he expected head coach Bruce Boudreau to return with the Capitals next season. Masisak considered the versatile Laich the Capitals most important unrestricted free agent, but the question is whether they can afford to re-sign him. Veteran center Jason Arnott might have to accept a pay cut if he hopes to remain with the club. McPhee admitted defenseman Tom Poti’s career is in jeopardy due to a lingering groin injury. As for rumors goalie Semyon Varlamov might decide to play in the KHL next season, McPhee said if that’s what he wants to do, “let him go”, but added he didn’t pay much attention to rumors of European players moving overseas. Masisak suggested if any significant change does come it could be via trade, rather than free agency.
CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Ryan O’Halloran also reported McPhee saying yesterday he expected Boudreau to return as head coach. Team owner Ted Leonsis, writing on his blog, appeared to lay blame for the Lightning loss on the players rather than the coaching staff. O’Halloran also noted the Capitals would have free agent issues, noting Arnott would have to accept a pay cut to remain with the club. Defenseman Scott Hannan would love to return and anticipates talking to management in the coming weeks. Laich meanwhile said it was up to management if they want to make a change. The affordable salaries of Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon could make them attractive options to return. Veteran Marco Sturm isn’t expected back. McPhee claims his team will have cap flexibility this summer to dip into the free agent pool.
WASHINGTON POST: Thomas Boswell doesn’t expect much change for the Capitals, doubting Leonsis would undermine McPhee, who reveres Boudreau.
TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox believes the Capitals need only tweak their roster, not fire their coach. He doesn’t feel they need to dump “all of Ovechkin, (Nicklas) Backstrom, (Alexander) Semin and (Mike) Green, but suggested you probably have to move one of them to add the right piece and change the mix.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It doesn’t appear as though McPhee and Leonsis will seek a dramatic change, but it is possible they could move a notable player if he could fetch a return which Cox suggested could change the mix. Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green aren’t going anywhere, and while Semin’s name is likely to reappear in the rumor mill in the coming weeks, his $6.75 million salary for next season combined with his inconsistent playoff performance could make him a tough sell. Still, his contract is only for one season, and for a team struggling to reach the playoffs in need of more offensive punch, perhaps he might be attractive. I believe the Caps will re-sign Laich, but could be forced to choose between Gordon and Bradley depending on how much they invest in Laich and perhaps Arnott or Hannan. It wouldn’t surprise me if Varlamov becomes a trade candidate. McPhee doesn’t sound too concerned about him bolting to the KHL this summer. The Capitals can afford to retain their key players and still have some cap space remaining, but it won’t be enough to land an impact player.