It was a pretty eventful weekend for the management team of the Caps. Free agency started with a bang and ended like the finale of a fireworks show. Lots of changes to the roster, here is a breakdown in case you missed it:
Sad to say, but we must say goodbye to Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon, Marco Sturm, Tyler Sloan and Semyon Varlamov. Fan favorite, Matt Bradley signed a 2-year contract with the Florida Panthers and will be joining former Caps players Jose Theodore and Tomas Fleischmann. Boyd Gordon signed a 2-year deal with the Phoenix Coyotes and Semyon Varlamov was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for a 1st and 2nd round draft pick. Semyon was signed for 3 years with the Av’s. Marco Sturm signed a 1-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks, and as of this writing, Tyler Sloan is still a free agent and has not yet signed with another team.
In happier news, we now have more Caps players added since the draft day trade when Troy Brouwer was acquired. Hopefully, you all have been Caps fans long enough to remember former Capitals Captain Jeff Halpern. The 35-year-old center started his NHL career in 1999 with the Washington Capitals and played for us for 6 seasons. Jeff signed a 1-year deal to return to Washington.
Friday also brought us defenseman Roman Hamrlik (from the Montreal Canadiens) and right-winger Joel Ward (from the Nashville Predators). Roman Hamrlik, 37, is an 18-year veteran with lots of experience, especially in the playoffs, where he has played 97 playoff games and was an NHL All-Star in ’93, ’96, and ’03. Roman signed a 2-year contract. Joel Ward, 30, who signed a 4-year contract, was apparently the subject of interest of 16 teams. Most notably, Wade led the Predators in goals, assists, and point in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. The post-season experience both of these players bring to Washington is invaluable to our own post-season needs.
Saturday brought the biggest surprise of the weekend. Caps signed veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun, formerly of the Florida Panthers, to a 1-year deal. The 35-year-old Czechoslovakian native has 13 seasons of NHL experience and was responsible for shutting out the Caps twice in the 2010-2011 season. His veteran experience will provide additional mentoring to fellow Czech goalie, Michal Neuvirth.
To round out the weekend, the Caps also announced the return of former Hershey Bear left-wing Chris Bourque, with the signing of a 1-year deal, and defenseman Danny Richmond of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. Speaking of our AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears have lost the following players during the free agency frenzy: Andrew Gordon signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Steve Pinizzotto signed with the Vancouver Canucks, Andrew Joudrey signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Sheldon Souray signed with the Dallas Stars.
Looks like we’ll have a whole lot of “new” players to get to know this coming season!