Washington Capitals: Brooks Laich Signs with Swiss Team; More Caps to Europe?
NBC Washington reported Tuesday, Sept. 26 that Brooks Laich is the latest Capitals player to sign elsewhere for the duration of the NHL lockout. Laich will play for the Koten Flyers in Switzerland's National League A.
He is the third Capitals player to commit to an overseas team for the duration of the lockout. Michal Neuvirth will play in the Czech Extraliga and Alex Ovechkin in the Kontinental Hockey League.
As one of the Caps' locker room leaders, one has to wonder if Laich signing with a European team will lead to more Caps heading overseas.
Laich, Neuvirth and Ovechkin are among the team's top players. It's not surprising that they've received and accepted offers from European teams. Any team would be lucky to have a player of Laich, Neuvirth or Ovechkin's caliber. Also, their name value will only attract more business to the team they play for.
There are plenty of other elite players in Washington that have a lot to add to a foreign team.
Superstar center Nicklas Backstrom would be a great addition to any team. If Backstrom does decide to go abroad during the lockout, it wouldn't be surprising to see him return to Brynäs IF of the Swedish Elite League. Backstrom played for Brynäs IF for six seasons before heading off to the Capitals. His former team, which are the defending Le Mat Trophy champions, would surely welcome him with open arms.
However, the SEL would first have to allow locked-out NHL players to play in the league until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached in the NHL.
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Veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik is no stranger to the NHL work stoppages. He could follow Neuvirth's example and explore options in the Czech Extraliga. Hamrlik has played for PSG Zlín in the past. His ability to hold the blue line would certainly be an asset to the team.
Washington hosts a plethora of other talented players. Mike Ribeiro, Jason Chimera and Mike Green are some other players that will likely have plenty of overseas options to explore. They're simply too good to be sitting on their hands until the new CBA is reached.
In addition, younger players like Marcus Johansson, Dmitry Orlov and even breakout goaltender Braden Holtby may find themselves heading to Hershey. Each player has earned a spot on the Capitals roster, but returning to the AHL for the time being wouldn't hurt.
As the NHL owners and the players association continue to stubbornly wait, more players will explore options in foreign leagues. As the lockout cuts into the regular season, expect to see more of your favorite Capitals lend their services to a European league until a new CBA is reached.
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