Caps sign Ward, Hamrlik, Halpern; trade Varlamov
The Capitals wanted to do all of their shopping in one day. In
doing so, they added three 30-somethings to fill out a talented
young roster in need of a bit more veteran leadership.
In a very busy opening to free agency Friday, Washington signed
defenseman Roman Hamrlik, right wing Joel Ward and center Jeff
Halpern. The Capitals also narrowed their pool of up-and-coming
goaltenders from three to two by trading Semyon Varlamov to the
Capitals general manager George McPhee said he felt he didn’t
fill all the holes last summer, forcing him to make deals at the
trade deadline. This year, he’s confident he already has the roster
that could take the ice in the playoffs next April.
”I wanted to have that feeling this summer where everything’s
done,” McPhee said. ”We can go with this team right now. We don’t
have to touch a thing all season. We could go the whole season with
Hamrlik signed a two-year deal worth $7 million. The 37-year-old
Czech has played for five teams over 18 NHL seasons and ranks
second in games played (1,311) and fourth in goals (153), assists
(471) and points (624) among active NHL defensemen.
The three-time All-Star had five goals and 29 assists with the
Canadiens last season. McPhee said Hamrlik could be a partner for
high-scoring defenseman Mike Green and was signed in case Tom Poti
is unable to return because of injuries.
Ward gets a four-year contract worth $12 million. The
30-year-old forward has played one season with Minnesota and three
with Nashville, scoring 10 goals with 19 assists for the Predators
Halpern is back for one year at $825,000. The 35-year-old
forward is a native of nearby Potomac, Md., who made the Capitals
as an undrafted free agent out of Princeton in 1999. He played six
seasons in Washington and was captain during the 2005-06
Halpern has since played for Dallas, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles and
Montreal and has 142 goals and 200 assists in his NHL career. He
had 11 goals and 15 assists in 72 games with the Canadiens last
season. McPhee said Halpern will be the team’s fourth-line
Locker room leadership has been a question mark for the Capitals
as they annually roll through the regular season before making
early exits in the playoffs. Friday’s signings, in addition to
Tuesday’s six-year, $27 million deal to re-sign Brooks Laich, is
meant to help create a different chemistry.
”We just wanted good experienced players, committed players who
do bring leadership,” McPhee said. ”We’re really pleased. We
didn’t think we’d get all three.”
Varlamov, a restricted free agent, was sent to the Avalanche for
a first-round draft pick in 2012 and a second-round selection in
2012 or 2013. The Capitals already have youngsters Michal Neuvirth
and Braden Holtby in net, and McPhee said Varlamov was asking for
too much during contract talks.
”He wanted to be, in his mind, guaranteed that he’s the No. 1
guy and be paid like that, and we couldn’t guarantee that,” McPhee
said, ”not with the competition we had at that position.”
The Capitals also re-signed defenseman Sean Collins, who spent
most of last season with Hershey of the AHL. He appeared in four
regular-season games with the Capitals in 2010-11.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP