July 5, 2015

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

Washington Capitals acquire T.J. Oshie from Blues

In an absolute coup, the Washington Capitals acquired right wing T.J. Oshie in exchange for RW Troy Brouwer, goalie prospect Phoenix Copley and a third round pick in the 2016 draft.

Oshie will immediately slide into the right wing spot next to Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom, making an already stellar first line perhaps the best in the game.

It further bolsters the Caps forward lines in addition to the free agent pick-up of RW Justin Williams late Wednesday.

Oshie had 19 goals and 36 assists for the Blues last season. Oshie helped the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi beat the host Russians, scoring on four of six shootout attempts.

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have acquired right wing T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for right wing Troy Brouwer, goaltender Pheonix Copley and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.

“T.J. is an outstanding skater with a tremendous skill set,” said MacLellan. “He is a powerful player and has consistent track record of production throughout his career in the NHL. We feel that he complements our core group nicely and can help us get to the next level in achieving our ultimate goal. We also want to thank Troy for his contributions to our organization on and off the ice and wish him well in St. Louis.”

Oshie, 28, registered 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists) and 51 penalty minutes in 72 games with St. Louis last season. The 5’11”, 194-pound right wing posted three three-assist games in 2014-15 and registered his second career hat trick and matched his career high with four points (three goals, one assist) on Jan. 3 at San Jose. Oshie was named the NHL’s First Star of the week ending Jan. 4. He finished the season ranked tied for third among Blues skaters in assists, fourth in plus/minus (+17), tied for fourth in game-winning goals (4) and fifth on the team in points and goals.

In 2013-14, Oshie set career highs in goals (21), assists (39), points (60), game-winning goals (5) and plus/minus (+19). He logged his first career hat trick on March 27, 2014, against Minnesota and tallied four assists on Nov. 14, 2013, against Colorado. During the 2010-11 season, Oshie was one of two NHL players (Jarret Stoll) with a perfect shootout conversion rate on home ice (3 for 3) among players with at least three attempts. Oshie led the Blues and ranked third in the NHL in shootout shooting percentage (62.5%) in 2009-10. Oshie has registered 310 points (110 goals, 200 assists) and 239 penalty minutes in 443 career NHL games with St. Louis. He was selected by the Blues in the first round, 24th overall, in the 2005 NHL Draft.

The Everett, Wash., native represented the United States at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, at three World Championships (2009, 2010, 2013) and at the 2006 World Junior Championship. Oshie helped lead the United States to a shootout win over host Russia at the 2014 Olympics, scoring on four of six shootout attempts.

Oshie registered 142 points (59 goals, 83 assists) and 120 penalty minutes in 129 games at the University of North Dakota (2005-08). In his three seasons at North Dakota, Oshie earned First Team West All-American Honors, was a two-time NCAA All-Tournament Team selection, was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team and received North Dakota’s Cliff “Fido” Purpur Award for demonstrating hard work, determination and excitement on the ice.

Brouwer, 29, earned 43 points (21 goals, 22 assists) and 53 penalty minutes during the 2014-15 season. Brouwer has registered 255 points (132 goals, 123 assists) and 395 penalty minutes in 531 career NHL games with Chicago and Washington.

Copley, 23, posted a 17-4-3 record with three shutouts, a 2.17 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage in 26 games with Hershey (AHL) last season. The 6’4”, 196-pound goaltender won his AHL debut on Oct. 13 at Norfolk and earned his first career shutout on Oct. 19 at Hartford. The Capitals signed Copley as a free agent on March 19, 2014.

“Young Guns” no more, Green signs with Wings

MIKE GREEN SIGNS THREE-YEAR DEAL WITH DETROIT

Mike Green Washington Capitals Practice, 10/07/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Mike Green
Washington Capitals Practice, 10/07/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Bruce Boudreau and Alexander Semin have been gone for a while, but the death knell for the Washington Capitals renown “Young Guns” was sounded on Wednesday, the first day of free agency in the NHL.

Mike Green is officially an ex-Capital.

Green, 29, signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings. Of course, it’s the Wings. That organization has long-coveted Green’s play-making ability, and they’re expected to give him top-four minutes, as well as power play quarterbacking responsibilities.

The loss in Washington is palpable.

Green was one of the most popular players in Capitals history. Perhaps no other player — other than his captain, of course — symbolized the free-wheeling era of the “Young Guns” than Green. His sometimes outrageous off-ice life was the perfect accompaniment for his skills on the ice.

Time and injury have reduced those skills. Green is no longer a threat for a 30-goal season as he was during back-to-back Norris Trophy nominated seasons. But he’s still an adept puck-mover and an elite passer on the power play, both traits that the Red Wings will no doubt take advantage of with their new blueliner.

The Caps, meanwhile, lose skill on their backline and will have to depend on younger players — notably Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt — to pick up the slack. But neither player will “replace” Green’s singular passing talent on the power play.

It seems every move Caps GM Brian MacLellan and coach Barry Trotz make, it’s with the mindset of making the Caps “tougher to play against.” In many instances, those types of moves make the team less skilled.

With the departure of Green, the Caps lose one of their most-skilled players.

It’s also interesting to note that Green’s current deal will expire with him entering his age 33 season, the same in which the Caps gave Brooks Orpik a five-year deal.

Green has his limitations. His defensive gaffes can be extraordinarily obvious and destructive, and his injury history is as long as his scoring history.

For years, the Capitals have been unable to protect Green from sustaining the devastating hits he often put himself in the way of. They have similarly been unable to pair him with a player that minimized his defensive shortcomings.

Here’s thinking the Red Wings come up with a better solution in both regards.

Regardless, an era is officially over. The “Young Guns” are no more. It’s hard to come up with an identifier for the current collection. MacLellan’s Mushers? Trotz’ Trotters?

One thing’s for certain; the team’s hand-tattoos per player ratio dropped significantly.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 27: Mike Green #52 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring a goal in the first period during an NHL game against the New York Rangers at Verizon Center on December 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 27: Mike Green #52 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring a goal in the first period during an NHL game against the New York Rangers at Verizon Center on December 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Caps Mike Green got some new ink over the summer - Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps Mike Green got some new ink over the summer – Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Volunteers with Capitals Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green - Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Volunteers with Capitals Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green – Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Mike Green stepping back onto the ice at Verizon Center on Jan. 3 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Mike Green stepping back onto the ice at Verizon Center on Jan. 3 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Washington Capitals free agency and post draft notes

CAPS SAY GOODBYE TO UFAS GREEN, FEHR AND MOST LIKELY WARD AS WELL

The NHL free agent signing period starts July 1, and the Washington Capitals find themselves in a potentially franchise-altering position. They have several unrestricted free agents that will leave sizable holes in the roster, several more restricted free agents that potentially move as well, and after last week’s draft, still need to find a right winger to play on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom.

First, the Caps free agents: Mike Green and Eric Fehr are both gone. The team has expressed that they will not make an offer to keep them in D.C and allow them to make their best deal on the open market. Green’s departure means that the only “Young Guns” left are 8 and 19, and that era is officially over, without so much as a Conference Finals to boast on.

Fehr’s utility as a center and winger, depth scoring, and defensive responsibility will be a tough combo to replace, though his injury history makes it easier to swallow to let him go.

As for the other significant UFA, the Caps have expressed interest in retaining Joel Ward, and they may very well make him an offer if they can work out the money. Ward has said he’d like to stay in D.C., but this is probably his “last best” contract and won’t settle for a hometown discount.

The Caps have several RFAs as well, most notably Braden Holtby. The goalie’s breakout year should garner him a multi-year deal worth $5 million annually, and the Caps first priority is to lock him up. Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov are RFAs as well. The team has acknowledged they have approached Kuznetsov’s representatives, but have not started negotiations with Johansson’s.

One development has already occurred. The team re-signed center Jay Beagle to a three-year, $5.25 million deal. It’s hard to imagine the offensively-challenged beagle commanding a $1.75M annual price tag, but the organization praises his hard work, defensive ability and face off prowess.

As for acquiring a running mate on the right side of the top line, the Caps will probably have to look on the trading market as opposed to a free agent. They will once again be tight against the cap despite allowing Green, Ward and Fehr walk, and the market for scoring right wingers isn’t particularly impressive.

At the recently concluded NHL Draft, the Caps surprisingly selected Russian goaltender Ilya Samsonov at the No. 22 overall pick, then traded up in the second round to pick add Swiss defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler at No. 57, before taking Regina Pats defensive teammates Connor Hobbs and Colby Williams in the fifth and sixth rounds.

The four picks are the fewest the Caps have ever made in a single draft.

All in all, the 2015-16 Caps could look significantly different than the team that got booted in the second round this season. GM Brian MacLellan will have his hands full the next few weeks bringing everything into shape.

Washington Nationals Game 77 Review: Stellar Zimmermann leads Nats over Braves

Jordan Zimmermann threw 7 2/3 shutout innings and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves for the ninth straight time, 6-1, at Turner Field in Atlanta.

The winning streak extends back to April 28, when the Nats overcame a nine-run deficit to win courtesy of Dan Uggla’s ninth inning homer.

Zimmermann allowed six hits and no walks, having no trouble mowing down the Braves well into the eighth inning. He struck out six and threw 85 of his 109 pitches for strikes.

Meanwhile, the top of the order was getting things done offensively. The 1-4 hitters, Denard Span, Danny Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Bryce Harper all had multi-hit games, with Espinosa going 3-5 with two runs scored.

Clint Robinson hit his third home run of the season, which capped a four-run rally in the first inning against Braves starter Shelby Miller, who allowed a season-high five runs total on eight hits and three walks in his five innings.

NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 7:10 pm in Atlanta. Doug Fister (3-3, 4.15) faces Rookie Matt Wisler (1-1, 3.75).

Washington Nationals Game 71 Review: Strasburg gives Nats solid five innings in win over Braves

Stephen Strasburg pitched five shutout innings and the Washington Nationals defeated the Atlanta Braves 3-1 on Tuesday at Nationals Park.

Strasburg, making his first start since being activated from the disabled list with an assortment of ailments, hit 97-98 on the radar gun most of the night and allowed just four hits and one walk. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 69 Review: NO-NO FOR SCHERZER

MAX SCHERZER STRIKES OUT 10, ONE STRIKE AWAY FROM PERFECTO

max chocolate

Max Scherzer and Dan Kolko covered in chocolate sauce. (Screengrab by @cnichols14/DistrictSportsPage)

Last time out, Max Scherzer came one broken-bat looper from tossing a no-hitter. As it was, the one-hit, one-walk complete game shutout was just the second complete game of his career, and his game score of 100 includes the performance on the list as one of the greatest pitching outings in Washington baseball history.

So what did he do for a follow-up?

How about a two-strike, two-out hit-by-pitch in the ninth inning being the only blemish on a no-hitter?.

In front of a capacity 41, 104 at Nats Park, Max Scherzer threw the second no-hitter in Washington Nationals history, striking out 10 in a performance as dominant as the one-hitter last Sunday. Though his game score was just a tick below his last outing, it was every bit as impressive. And he came one strike from throwing the 24th perfect game in baseball history. [Read more…]

Strasburg fairly sharp in rehab start with Harrisburg

Washington Nationals rehabbing starter Stephen Strasburg was reasonably sharp in a five-inning appearance for AA-Harrisburg on Wednesday. The righty, troubled with ankle, neck and back problems — but reportedly no arm pain — allowed one earned run on four hits and no walks, striking out six. The important part is that he told reporters he felt fine after the appearance.

From the Senators’ press release:

Strasburg allowed two runs overall, but just one was earned, while he walked none and struck out six in his rehab start with Harrisburg. Strasburg threw 71 pitches, 46 of which were strikes, in his five innings. Richmond’s Kelby Tomlinson hit an RBI double off Strasburg in the third inning and Mitch Delfino singled in a run in the fourth.

According to The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga, Strasburg started 16 of 20 batters faced with a strike and the pitcher “looked comfortable”.

Manager Matt Williams, in his press conference before tonight’s matchup against Tampa Bay at Nats Park, said the team will evaluate how Strasburg feels in the next couple of days to determine if he’ll make another rehab start or rejoin the Nats.

Strasburg is an integral part of the Nats rotation and hopefully the week and a half off allowed his various ailments to recoup to allow him to throw with his normal mechanics.

Washington Nationals Game 63 Review: Scherzer throws one-hitter at Brewers

SCHERZER STRIKES OUT TEAM-RECORD 16 IN SECOND CAREER COMPLETE GAME

This offseason, the Washington Nationals paid a lot of money over a lot of years for the services of starting pitcher Max Scherzer. He’s been worth every penny thus far this season, and on Sunday he was extra special.

Scherzer allowed just one hit to the Milwaukee Brewers, a broken-bat bloop at that by Carlos Gomez, and struck out a club-record 16, to beat the Brewers 4-0 at Miller Park. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 62 Review: Ross goes eight strong to top Brewers

The Washington Nationals have struggled hitting in their past 20 games, and dropped the first two of a four-game weekend series from the Milwaukee Brewers. On Saturday, the bats woke up a bit and the Nats benefitted from a tremendous outing from their rookie pitcher to top the Brewers 7-2 at Miller Park.

Joe Ross, making his second start of the season, was stellar to earn his first big league win. He went eight impressive innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out eight. Meanwhile, Bryce Harper reached base each of his five trips to the plate while Yunel Escobar and Wilson Ramos homered to provide a welcome bit of offensive prowess. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 61 Review: Another loss

The Nats lost to the Milwaukee Brewers again. Go do something fun instead of trying to read about it on a Friday night.

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