With the 26th pick in the NHL Draft tonight, it's kind of a forgone conclusion that the Washington Capitals will select Russian center Alexander Khokhlachev if available. The skilled Russian had a terrific season for OHL Windsor last year, notching 34 goals (12 PPG) and 76 points with a plus-9 rating and in 19 playoff games he went 9-11-20...as a 17-year old.
Other names that might be available when the Caps pick: American defenseman Connor Murphy (18-years old, 6'3", 185), Vladislav Namestnikov (C, London OHL), Jamie Oleksiak (6'7", 244 defenseman with soft hands).
From my vantage, the Philadelphia Flyers self-destructed yesterday. Over-compensating for their goaltending deficiencies, they gave a 31-year old good-but-not-great goalie a reported nine-year, $51.5 million contract.
Then, to make room for said contract, they traded away their two best players, captain Mike Richards and All-Star center Jeff Carter -- in the prime of their careers -- for support wingers and draft picks. Granted, Philly still has lots of young talent, but for my opinion, they sent too much out the door yesterday. GM Paul Holmgren just put his neck on the table if Ilya Bryzgalov doesn't turn into the reincarnation of Bernie Parent for the Black and Orange.
The Capitals' job in the Eastern Conference just got easier in the 2011-12 season, in my humble opinion.
I don't get worked up over the NHL schedule like some folks do. What interests me more in how the NHL plans to realign next season. News of possible plans to go to two conferences of two divisions, with the top four in each division having to play each other to get out of the division in the playoffs intrigues me.
If we end up with an NHL "South" Division, it could look like this: Washington, New Jersey, Philadelphia, one of the New York teams, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida and maybe Columbus or Nashville.