The 2022 NHL Draft is finally upon us, as the action kicks off with the first round on Thursday. All the while, trade speculation and other free agency rumblings continue to brew in Montreal. And on Wednesday, general manager Brian MacLellan addressed the state of the Washington Capitals and their plans with regard to their No. 20 pick, goaltending situation and free agency.
All eyes are also on the Montreal Canadiens, as their No.1. selection remains a mystery. Shane Wright seemed like a sure thing, but now, Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley could also steal that first overall spot as both have moved up the rankings.
Here are all the latest news and notes from D.C. and across the NHL.
- Nicklas Backstrom fully intends to return to the Capitals and lace ’em up for Washington this season after career-altering hip resurfacing surgery. (WHN)
- Carl Hagelin‘s future with the club remains a bit uncertain, as the team will find out more about his progress later in the offseason. He suffered a ruptured choroid in a freak accident at practice. Hagelin also opened up about the incident and his recovery back in May. (WHN)
- Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek will both get qualifying offers, but the team is still eager to bring in a No. 1 as the Capitals goaltending situation gets more interesting. (WHN)
- Speaking of goaltending, if Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t stay in Minnesota, Washington could be a possible landing spot after all. (WHN)
- The team is also confident that its Russian NHL players, including Alex Ovechkin, will be able to return safely and play in 2022-23. (WHN)
- At the 2022 NHL Draft, the Capitals know they have options with the 20th overall pick and could either trade it or use it as they have “four or five guys” that stand out. (WHN)
- Here’s the latest on the Pittsburgh Penguins and their contract negotiations. GM Ron Hextall would be surprised if a Kris Letang deal didn’t get done, but now, there’s less optimism on the Evgeni Malkin side. (PHN)
- Longtime NHL defenseman and Bryan Marchment — father of Florida Panthers forward Mason — passed away at age 53 in Montreal. (FHN)
- Meanwhile, on the Island, Lou Lamoriello addressed Ilya Sorokin and the New York Islanders‘ current feelings on their Russian players, as well as former Washington goalie Semyon Varlamov’s future in New York. (NYIHN)
- The Canadiens continue to play poker with regard to their No. 1 pick and have held a meeting with Slafkovsky. (MHN)
- Kirill Karpizov remains in Russia amid reports that he is involved in fake military IDs, but GM Bill Guerin says the Wild star is fine. (The Athletic)
- The San Jose Sharks could be looking to trade their No. 11 pick. (SJHN)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- The Capitals schedule for 2022-23 is out, and the team will open its season on Oct. 12 at home against the Boston Bruins.
- MacLellan said that he will treat Backstrom as if his deal still counts against the cap, saying, “It’s not like we can go out and sign a $9 million player” in NHL Free Agency. Taking that into account, I don’t see Nazem Kadri coming to D.C. J.T. Miller is a cheaper option on the trade market that has been linked to D.C., but will he come to the Capitals if there’s not a potential for a long-term deal after his contract is up? I’m not so sure.
- Taking all that into account, the team is emphasizing they want to promote from within heading into next season. I see Hendrix Lapierre returning and pushing hard for a full-time roster spot after a strong showing in the Q following his reassignment. Lucas Johansen is another name I expect to make the jump.
- Washington will turn its attention to its pending free agents after the draft. Marcus Johansson, Johan Larsson, Justin Schultz and more require new deals.
- I’m going to make my No. 1 prediction: I see Slafkovsky going first overall. I think that he has that high-scoring potential and am reimagining a Nico Hischier/Nolan Patrick situation unfolding again.
- And another take: the Capitals keep that first-round pick.