October 25, 2014

Washington Wizards Rightfully Reward Randy Wittman With Three-Year Contract Extension

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

For the Washington Wizards this offseason, that is the philosophy they should stick to when maneuvering through the laundry list of decisions that face them this summer. They have several high-profile people in need of new contracts, and on Tuesday evening they checked one of them off the list. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals re-sign Orlov to 2-year contract extension

From the press release:

The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a two-year contract extension, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. Orlov will earn $1.75 million during the 2014-15 season and $2.25 million in 2015-16.

Orlov, 22, has registered nine points (three goals, six assists) and 19 penalty minutes in 38 games with Washington this season. The 5’11”, 211-pound defenseman scored two goals against Philadelphia on March 2 and ranks sixth among Capitals skaters in ice time per game (19:31). In 103 career NHL games with Washington, Orlov has earned 29 points (six goals, 23 assists) and 37 penalty minutes.

This is, much like the Marcus Johansson deal last year, a great deal for both team and player. It locks up a young, up-and-coming player for the next two seasons, crucial to the player’s long-term viability as a top-line performer in the NHL, and it does so in reasonable amount and term of contract.

Orlov has much room to grow, especially in his own end. But he has tremendous puck-handling skill, is a good skater and is willing to play physically beyond his stature. This is a good deal for the Caps.

 

Nationals avoid arbitration with Desmond, JZimm with two year deals

TEAM SIGNS BLEVINS, STOREN AND RAMOS TO ONE-YEAR CONTRACTS

The Washington Nationals avoided arbitration with most of their players eligible, signing Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann to two-year contracts, and Jerry Blevins, Drew Storen and Wilson Ramos to one-year deals, according to multiple reports.

With Stephen Strasburg, Ross Ohlendorf and Ross Detwiler signing before Friday’s deadline, it means the only Nats players still eligible for arbitration are recently acquired starter Doug Fister and veteran reliever Tyler Clippard.

MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports that Desmond will make $17.5 million on his deal, while Zimmermann is set for $24 million. The two-year deals for both players buys out their remaining arb-eligible years leading to free agency.

It is widely reported that the team would like to ink both players to long-term deals, but having them under contract for the next two seasons also makes them easier to trade due to salary assurance, should the Nats feel that they can’t get them under long-term contracts.

Zimmermann, entering his age 28 season and an All-Star for the first time in 2013, went 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA and 1.088 WHIP with a 4.03 K/BB ratio. He finished seventh in Cy Young voting in the National League.

Desmond, 28, was an All-Star in 2012 and has been the N.L. Silver Slugger at shortstop the past two seasons. He hit .280/.331/.453 last season with 20 home runs, 80 RBIs and 21 steals in 27 attempts.

Ladson further reports that Ramos will make $2.095 million and Storen $3.45 million.

Adam Oates talks Johansson contract, development: “He needs a little more time”

Early Saturday morning, at long last, the Washington Capitals announced via press release that forward Marcus Johansson had been re-signed to a two-year, $4 million contract. He’ll be earning $1.825mil in 2013-14, and $2.175mil in 2014-15.

Johansson, drafted by the Capitals in the first round (24th overall) of the 2009 NHL draft,  scored 22 points in 34 games last season, and was third on the team in assists. Much of his success was due in part to his eventual pairing with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom on the Capitals top line after returning from a concussion in March.

“We finished very well, and they played very well together,” said Capitals head coach Adam Oates of the Backstrom, Johansson, and Ovechkin pairing. “Marcus is a lot younger than Backie and Ovi, and we’re looking for him to keep growing as a hockey player and improving.”

Oates laid to rest any doubt about where Johansson would be playing this upcoming season. Johansson is listed on the Capitals roster as a center, but Oates said he would be filling the left wing spot on the top line again this season, citing the young forward’s speed and his success with his linemates Backstrom and Ovechkin earlier this year.

“We look for him to play left wing,” said Oates. “They had some success, so I’d like to see where that goes, ‘cause of his speed and the way that we play. His speed is a huge attribute, and you’re going to see that more from a winger than you are a center.”

Oates addressed the topic of Johansson’s development, which many say has been stunted by inconsistent coaching, being shuffled around positionally the last several years, and simply not fulfilling expectations. But Oates has faith Johansson can get there.

“I think honestly, he needs a little more time,” said Oates. “He’s younger than those guys, he needs more time in the league, more games, more feeling the position, more growing into his body, and getting stronger.”

Oates thinks the young forward is in a place where he can develop as a player and prove himself in the NHL, while contributing to the Capitals’ success.

“He’s got a great opportunity to get started with two great hockey players, a good situation, the coaches like him, the GM likes him, and he’s got an opportunity for the next few years to prove that he can be a dominant player in this league, and he’ll be rewarded if he succeeds.”

 

 

Capitals re-sign Marcus Johansson to two-year deal

Marcus Johansson during warmups at Verizon Center (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Marcus Johansson during warmups at Verizon Center (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

The Washington Capitals announced early Saturday morning via e-mail they re-signed forward Marcus Johansson to a two-year, $4 million deal. Johansson will earn $1,825,000 in 2013-14 and $2,175,000 in 2014-15.

Here are the vitals from the press release:

Johansson, 22, recorded 22 points (6 goals, 16 assists) in 34 games during the 2012-13 season. He ranked tied for fourth on the Capitals in assists and tied for fifth in power-play goals (3). The 6’1”, 205-pound center posted career marks during the 2011-12 campaign when he collected 46 points (14 goals, 32 assists) in 80 games with Washington. He ranked third on the team in assists, tied for third in points and tied for seventh in goals.

The Landskrona, Sweden, native has collected 95 points (33 goals, 62 assists) and 22 penalty minutes in 183 regular-season games with the Capitals. Among his 2009 draft class, Johansson ranks fifth in goals and points, seventh in assists and eighth in games played. In addition, the center has recorded four goals and seven assists in 30 career NHL playoff games.

Johansson tweeted his reaction mid-day Saturday:

Johansson may be the most-talked about “disappointing” prospect that has come through the Caps system. Often criticized for what he is not instead of praised for what he does well, Johansson has been a target for detractors because he’s failed to put up big scoring numbers despite playing alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom for the most part the last two seasons.

But Johansson is still just 22 years old and an elite skater — both speed and technique — and with a full training camp with head coach Adam Oates he has the skills to be able to flourish in Oates’ forechecking and pressure offense.

From Japers Rink post-season player evaluations:

Johansson also looked much more confident and assertive when he returned from injury, using his speed to open up space in the neutral zone and gain the offensive blue line. As long as he is playing with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, he’ll need to continue to find ways to use his skill set to create opportunities for those players. The assertive play following his return to the lineup also coincided with much stronger possession numbers.

There’s time yet for Johansson to assert himself and take advantage of the minutes he gets playing on the top line for the Capitals and live up to his lofty first-round selection in the draft. He now gets two years to continue to progress and develop into the player the Caps think he can be.

The contract is reasonable for a player of his age and skill set, though it does push the Capitals right up against the salary cap, according to Capgeek.com.

Washington Redskins Cornerback DeAngelo Hall Returns On One-Year Deal

The Washington Redskins announced Thursday that they have re-signed veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Washington Post reports that the 10th year pro is returning on a one-year deal.

Hall was released by the team on March 11th, a move which afforded the team roughly $8 million in salary cap relief. While he was briefly on the market, he had reportedly drawn mild interest from other teams around the league before eventually deciding to return to Washington at a reduced rate.

Hall, 29, will presumably reprise his role as starting cornerback opposite of Josh Wilson. He is coming off a season in which he logged 95 tackles, four interceptions and his first career sack, all under the tutelage of defensive backs coach Raheem Morris. The veteran corner turned in key performances throughout the Redskins’ march to the playoffs in 2012, the most significant coming in a Week 17 game against the Dallas Cowboys in which he limited wide receiver Dez Bryant to just 71 yards on four receptions and no touchdowns.

With Hall returning for 2013, it remains to be seen if the Redskins will continue to address the cornerback position in free agency. They recently added former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back E.J Biggers, who will likely serve as the nickel corner. However, the Redskins have continuously been linked to former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield, whose potential signing now seems more unlikely barring a corresponding release or restructured contract.

Hall will be entering his sixth season with the Redskins this fall.

Washington Redskins Sign Former Dolphins Quarterback Pat White

The Washington Redskins announced Thursday morning that they have signed former Miami Dolphins signal caller Pat White.

White, 27, last played in the NFL in his rookie year of 2009, a season in which he suffered a concussion that had kept him out of football for four seasons. During that time, White sued the league for what he called “permanent injuries” that resulted from the hits that he took in his only year in the NFL. The Washington Times reported that White chose to drop his case against the league Tuesday, a matter that was presumably a pre-condition to joining the Redskins.

The dynamic ability White showed in his college career at West Virginia led him to being selected as the 44th overall pick of the 2009 draft. The dual-threat quarterback was expected to run the Dolphins’ “Wild Cat” offense, but only finished with just five passing attempts and 21 rushes before suffering the concussion that would lead to his departure from the league.

Why, then, would the Redskins sign White after four years of being away from the game? It’s likely because of the Redskins’ desire to have a quarterback in camp who can best simulate Robert Griffin III in practice while he’s recovering from knee surgery. Having someone like White mimic Griffin in practice not only helps his chances of potentially staying on the roster once the season starts, but it helps condition the other ten players on offense to that style of play.

So while it’s expected that second-stringer Kirk Cousins will be getting the majority of the snaps this summer, having a quarterback who can be a stunt double for the starter while he’s on the mend seems to make sense.

Washington Redskins Bring Back Veteran Quarterback Rex Grossman

The Washington Redskins continue to add quarterback depth, this time announcing the return of veteran Rex Grossman. Terms of the deal were not released by the team, but the Washington Post reports that the 11th-year veteran is back on a one-year deal.

Grossman, 32, spent all of the 2012 season as a backup and mentor to his rookie counterparts Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. He is credited by his teammates and coaching staff for helping to guide both Griffin and Cousins through their successful first NFL seasons. His familiarity with the league as well as offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s system was viewed as an asset last season, one that the team continues to value as evidenced by this signing.

With Griffin sidelined for the majority of the offseason due to his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery, it’s possible that Grossman could see more practice time once OTAs and minicamps begin in the coming months. He may also have to compete with newly-signed Pat White for practice snaps, as it appears both of them could be fighting for the same roster spot throughout the summer.

Grossman first signed with Washington in 2010 on a one-year deal, eventually taking over starting duties in Week 15 of that season. He went on to start 13 games in 2011 before being unseated for good with the arrival of Griffin. In 16 starts with the team, he has a 6-10 record to go along with 23 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions.

Washington Nationals reportedly agree to terms with Dan Haren

According to multiple reports, pitcher Dan Haren has reached an agreement to join the Washington Nationals, pending a physical which should take place Thursday, according to those reports. Haren, 32, was 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 30 starts for the Los Angeles Angels last season. The three-time All-Star owns 119 wins in 10 seasons.

Haren joins what could be quite a formidable rotation for 2013 with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler for the defending N.L. East champions.

Reports cite Haren’s contract at one-year, $13 million. The right-hander has dealt with back and hip problems the last couple of seasons, but according to a report in The Washington Post, Haren has already passed one physical for another team this off-season.

“As for my health I feel great,” Haren said. “I actually felt great towards the end of last year, and I was battling my mechanics a lot but was still getting good results. I guess teams were concerned of a hip issue that I’ve dealt with since my time in Oakland. It never has and never will cause me to miss time.”

Haren uses a changeup and impeccable control to limit baserunners, walking just 1.9 batters per nine innings over the course of his career. But he also has the ability to finish off hitters, averaging 7.6 strikeouts per nine.

With the addition of Haren, the Nats off-season shopping list seems to be just a few remaining items. GM Mike Rizzo is still trying to re-sign first baseman Adam LaRoche, though the parties are still deadlocked on the duration of the contract. The team seems to be sticking to offering a two-year deal, while the veteran left-handed slugger wants a third year guaranteed on his contract. With the number of suitors for LaRoche dwindling though, it would seem to favor the Nats in the negotiations.

Rizzo would also like to add another left-handed relief pitcher. Sean Burnett, who filled that role admirably the last two seasons, seems to have priced himself out of the Nats plans.

Washington Capitals re-sign John Carlson to six-year extension

The Washington Capitals announced Saturday they re-signed defenseman John Carlson to a six-year, $23.8 million contract extension. Carlson, 22, will earn $3.8 million in 2012-13 and $4 million per year from the 2013-14 season through 2017-18.

“John is a talented young defenseman who has played very well for the Capitals and still has room to grow,” said Caps GM George McPhee.  “He wanted to make a long-term commitment to the team and we are delighted that this young man who is an important part of our future will be a member of the club for many years to come.”

After Friday’s scrimmage, Carlson spoke to the Caps beat reporters about the new deal and why he insisted on a long-term contract. [Read more...]

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