It’s finally Friday, and there’s plenty happening around the league. Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final is upon us, the expansion draft is 19 days away and the Capitals continue to face questions surrounding their future.
Let’s get going with the latest news and notes from Washington and across the NHL.
- In a recent interview, Nicklas Backstrom shared what his next steps are after his NHL tenure comes to an end. Ian Oland has more on what Washington’s top center had to say and his plan to return to his home nation of Sweden and lace ’em up for Brynäs IF before he hangs up the skates. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)
- The Capitals report cards continue to roll out. This time around, Alex Ervin takes a closer look at Trevor van Riemsdyk‘s performance in limited ice time through 2020-21. (Japers’ Rink)
- Connor McMichael, one of Washington’s most promising prospects and big fan of The Office, could make a serious bid for a roster spot this season. Joe MacGillivray breaks down the 20-year-old’s play and where he could fit in with Washington next season. (Starts & Sticks)
- We celebrated Canada Day on Thursday by constructing our all-time Canadian Capitals roster. (Washington Hockey Now)
- From the Big Ten to the Stanley Cup Final, rookie sensation Cole Caufield has come up huge for the Canadiens and will look to impress yet again as they look to rally vs. Tampa. Caps beat reporter Samantha Pell has more on the 2019 first-rounder and the “swagger” that makes him an impact player. (The Washington Post)
- Philadelphia needs more insurance on defense, and there are quite a couple of big-name players out there. Ryan Gilbert explains why Dougie Hamilton should be a target over another candidate like Seth Jones. (Philly Hockey Now)
- The Kings acquired forward Viktor Arvidsson from the Predators in exchange for a couple of draft picks. Lisa Dillman examines the deal and shares what Los Angeles is getting in the 28-year-old forward and where he slots in. (The Athletic)
- Meanwhile, with the NHL trade floodgates opening, there could be something brewing for Pittsburgh. Dan Kingerski takes a look at Jake Guentzel and if he could be a potential trade chip for the Penguins as they seek redemption. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- The expansion draft and free agency are rapidly approaching, and it’ll be interesting to see what Washington does. There were reports that the Capitals were fed up with Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s antics (I personally think he should get one more chance), but does that mean he’ll be exposed? There are also other significant names on the line, and it’ll be interesting how the team fills whatever void they have to.
- That Arvidsson deal is definitely going to pay off for L.A. While inconsistency has plagued him over the last two seasons, he’s shown that he’s capable of 30-plus goal seasons and being a top-6 contributor. On a team like the Kings, he may be able to truly benefit from a change in scenery, especially with players like Anze Kopitar, Quinton Byfield and more.
- Nick Suzuki is going to be key for the Habs in Game 3 and beyond. He had nine shots in Game 2 and is starting to figure out how to break through the Bolts defense. If Montreal is going to cut the series deficit, he’ll have to lead the charge along with Caufield.
- Looking at the two teams left, the Conn Smythe race is interesting. For the Lightning, I’d have to give it to Andrei Vasilevskiy or Alex Killorn, and for the Canadiens, Carey Price and only Carey Price. It’d be interesting to see a goalie be named the playoff MVP; it’d be the first time since Jonathan Quick in 2012 that a netminder would win the trophy.