It’s Wednesday and we’re back in Tampa for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning are hoping to finish off the Canadiens for their second straight Stanley Cup as Montreal aims to bring the series back home. In D.C., the Washington Capitals face a hefty offseason to-do list, from expansion draft decisions to free-agent signings, and today also marks the anniversary of a special Stanley Cup moment in franchise history.
So cook up some waffles (or whatever breakfast you’d like), grab some joe/soda/tea, put your feet up and let’s get this morning going with the latest happenings across the league.
- As the offseason inches closer, the Capitals face questions in regards to Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek between the pipes. Andrew Gillis and J.J. Regan explore if Washington should pursue another option in net or stick with its young tandem heading into 2021-22. (NBC Sports Washington)
- Michal Kempny is back in the gym and working out as he continues to work toward his comeback. Where will he ultimately slot in with the Capitals next season? (Washington Hockey Now)
- The Capitals’ offseason report cards continue, and it’s T.J. Oshie‘s turn for a final grade. Robert Sorus Jr. takes a closer look at Oshie’s 2020-21 campaign. (Stars & Sticks)
- The Bolts are looking for back-to-back titles and hope to clinch on home ice. Sean Leahy has more on how Tampa plans to capitalize on the opportunity they missed out on in Game 4. (Pro Hockey Talk)
- On the other side of the showdown, Montreal is ready to continue its underdog story and rally. Luke Fox provides an inside look at some of the Habs’ “crazy guys” who dream big. (Sportsnet)
- The NHL’s first buyout window is set to open 24 hours after the Stanley Cup is hoisted before ending at 5 p.m. on July 27. Frank Seravalli shares his list of buyout candidates, including James Neal and Erik Johnson. (Daily Faceoff)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Cole Caufield is the first rookie in NHL history to notch at least three overtime points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s an absolute clutch player that’s going to be a stud in this league for years to come. It’s also not a surprise to see Josh Anderson taking matters into his own hands, and I expect to see the same speed and grit in Game 5 from the Habs.
- Looking at Washington’s pending free agents, the biggest priority is Alex Ovechkin. Given the lurking Seattle Kraken, I don’t expect anything until after the expansion draft, so there’s no reason to panic. He wants to be back, and the Capitals want him back. Washington also has to re-up Samsonov and discuss Zdeno Chara and company. But, beyond the roster players, there are RFAs like Lucas Johansen and Beck Malenstyn waiting on new deals. Despite injuries, expect them to play a key part in the Capitals’ future. We talked earlier about the case of Hendrix Lapierre, and how ailments can spook teams but aren’t necessarily indicative of a decline in upside or future potential.
- Three years ago today, Alex Ovechkin spent his day with the Stanley Cup in his hometown of Moscow, Russia. He visited his hometown rink, Novogorsky Dynamo Hockey School, shared the trophy with his family, took photos with fans, went to the World Cup fan fest and more. Before giving back the Cup, he also visited his late brother Sergey’s gravestone with Lord Stanley.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 7, 2018