Washington Capitals: Predicting Lockout Destinations for All Caps Players
The NHL has locked out.
The Washington Capitals roster has been torn apart.
Over the next few weeks, we should see Caps players start signing contracts in Europe that will see them spend the foreseeable future outside of the nation's capital.
This is a prediction of where the Washington Capitals players meant to be on the roster for the 2012-2013 season will play until the labor dispute is resolved.
Karl Alzner: Europe
Karl Alzner has emerged as an elite NHL defenseman in the past few seasons.
He is so good that he would likely turn around the fortunes of any given European club.
Where Karl Alzner will sign is a mystery, but he should sign in Europe.
Nicklas Bäckström: Leksand (HockeyAllsvenskan)
With the possibility of the lockout ending at any time, Nicklas Bäckström is likely to want to settle as close as possible to home.
Unfortunately, Bäckström's old hometown team, Brynäs, plays in the Swedish top division—the Elitserien—which has decided to shut out all locked-out NHL players.
For Bäckström, the best option is Leksand, a team rich in history from a small town just over 80 miles from Bäckström's hometown of Gävle, home of Brynäs. A move to the strong Allsvenskan team would also allow the 24-year-old Swede to lay the foundations for what Caps fans hope will be a strong relationship with top prospect Filip Forsberg, also of Leksand, something Caps brass will undoubtedly be keen on.
Jay Beagle: Will Not Play
Unfortunately, with most European leagues setting rules on the number of NHL players that can be acquired, the options for grinding energetic players like Jay Beagle are limited.
Beagle, who has just broken full-time into the NHL, will undoubtedly see his career hurt by the lockout. It would likely take something special for him to play in the next year, but when hockey does return to North America, he will have an important role to play with the Caps.
Troy Brouwer: Will Not Play
Troy Brouwer is coming off signing a three-year contract with the Caps, meaning he will spend at least the next four years in the District.
It is likely the Caps winger with a baby on the way will spend the lockout, however long it may be, in Washington—continuing to assimilate himself with the city and spending time with the newest member of his family.
John Carlson: Wherever Karl Alzner Plays
John Carlson has struck up a phenomenal partnership both on and off the ice with teammate Karl Alzner.
It sure would be nice to see them continue that into the lockout.
Alzner and Carlson are close friends, and the likelihood is that they'll do whatever they can to play together. Teams are unlikely to say no; getting both means you are getting an elite defensive pairing that can compete with the best in the NHL.
Jason Chimera: HC Asiago (Serie A)
Jason Chimera is the first player on this list who was part of the 2004-2005 lockout.
That time, he joined HC Varese, a now-dismantled Serie A team in Italy.
Chimera, of Italian descent, could well look to return to the nation where he spent the 2004-2005 season. Asiago are the most recent champions, and would likely love to add Chimera to their ranks.
Joey Crabb: Europe
Joey Crabb might not be a shoe-in for a European contract, but he is an elite role-player and can produce more than most.
The Caps' only July 1 addition should find himself a deal soon enough in Europe.
John Erskine: Will Not Play
John Erskine went from playing 73 games in 2010-2011 to 28 in 2011-2012, seeing his role with the team diminish significantly.
Erskine is not going into the lockout on form, and could struggle to find a role for next year. More than likely, Erskine will stay in the area and wait for the labor strike to end.
Stanislav Galiev: Hershey Bears (AHL)
Caps' 2010 third-round pick Stanislav Galiev was expected to come into training camp and compete for a roster spot on a team needing offensive flair after the loss of Alexander Semin.
Instead, the Russian, who is a former Memorial Cup winner with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, will head straight to the AHL to start his pro career with the Hershey Bears. He should be one of the point leaders with the Bears this season.
Mike Green: Europe
Mike Green is far too good of a player to not be playing in the case of a lockout.
Obviously, it is impossible to predict where the defenseman might end up, but him making the move over the Atlantic to join up with a European club is a good bet.
Roman Hamrlik: PSG Zlin (Extraliga)
Roman Hamrlik is certainly no stranger to lockouts, with the impending work stoppage set to be his third.
The last two times, 1994-1995 and 2004-2005, the 38-year-old Czech defenseman joined PSG Zlin, his junior club. There is little reason to believe Hammer won't rejoin the Extraliga club this time around.
Matt Hendricks: Will Not Play
Last November, Matt Hendricks' wife Kim gave birth to twins, a girl called Lennon and a boy called Gunner.
Like Troy Brouwer, Hendricks is the kind of player for whom it will be difficult to find work in the event of a stoppage. He will likely stay in the DC area or return home to his native Minnesota and spend time with his children.
Jack Hillen: Will Not Play
Jack Hillen, a fringe player with the Nashville Predators last season, was meant to come to Washington and battle for a roster spot.
With the lockout, Hillen will not be able to do so. It seems unlikely he'll earn a deal elsewhere.
Braden Holtby: Hershey Bears (AHL)
After a stellar playoff performance last spring, Braden Holtby was set to come into the season and fiercely battle fellow netminder Michal Neuvirth for the starting reins.
Instead, Holtby will head back to the place where he has spent the majority of the last three seasons. Holtby will be one of the AHL's leading goalies with the Hershey Bears.
Marcus Johansson: Malmö Redhawks (HockeyAllsvenskan)
Prior to being drafted to the Caps, Marcus Johansson played with Färjestad of the Elitserien. NHL players will be shut out from that team.
Fortunately for Johansson, his junior team—the Malmö Redhawks—compete in the Allsvenskan, which will be open to NHL players. It would not at all be surprising to see Marcus Johansson join up with the organization for whom he played as recently as 2005-2006.
Brooks Laich: Will Not Play
"Players are passionate. They’re going to fight and they’re not going to give in."
With his leadership qualities and dedication, Laich could be an asset for the NHLPA moving forward. At this point, it seems Laich will be more willing to stay in North America to help the negotiations than revert to Europe for his hockey.
Michal Neuvirth: HC Sparta Praha (Extraliga)
Caps' goalie Michal Neuvirth recently tweeted a picture packed up and ready to go, all but confirming that Neuvy would be leaving North America and heading home to play.
The 24-year-old spent his junior years with HC Sparta Praha before being drafted and joining the OHL's Plymouth Whalers. More than likely, Neuvirth will be back playing in his native Czech Republic in the nation's Extraliga.
Dmitry Orlov: Hershey Bears (AHL)
The obvious choice would be hometown team Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the KHL, but Dmitry Orlov has long showed a commitment to be a North American pro. There is a good chance he'd stay west of the Atlantic with the Bears.
The 2009 second-rounder would be an AHL superstar with the Bears. He'd continue his development and transition to the smaller ice rinks, and come back in 2013-2014 (or whenever the next NHL season starts) better than ever.
Alex Ovechkin: CSKA (KHL)
One of the hottest debates of this lockout so far has been where Caps superstar Alex Ovechkin will end up.
The obvious choice would be Dynamo Moscow of the KHL, where Ovechkin spent his junior days, but Dynamo's president Arkady Rotenberg appears to be against signing the Russian superstar. The more likely option seems to now be cross-town rival CSKA Moscow, where ex-teammate Sergei Fedorov is the general manager.
It won't be long before the 27-year-old forward signs somewhere, and it won't be long before he plays. Let's hope he doesn't play there for long.
Mathieu Perreault: Dragons De Rouen (Ligue Magnus)
Jokes aside, there is a very good chance Quebec-native Mathieu Perreault ends up in France during the lockout.
First of all, he doesn't exactly have a marquee name. He is a player on the rise, and is likely to be overlooked by big-name European squads in favor of more established players.
Secondly, the French league is on the rise, with Rouen having won the league three years in a row.
Look for Perreault to wait before signing a contract, but he could well end up with the French champions.
Tom Poti: Will Retire
Tom Poti, who has not played since the 2010-2011, is likely to see his career end with his groin injury.
He did not play in the 2004-05 lockout, and will not play this time around.
Mike Ribeiro: Espoo Blues (SM-Liiga)
Another of the Caps who was around at the last lockout, newly-acquired Mike Ribeiro will again look to Europe.
Last time, Ribeiro starred for the Finnish league's Espoo Blues, posting 17 points in 17 games. With his stint there last time having undeniably been successful, he could well return.
Jeff Schultz: Europe
Jeff Schultz may not have established himself as an elite NHL defenseman, but he is reliable and can still be a solid bottom-pairing defenseman.
That might change in the European leagues for the worse. On the larger ice rinks, Schultz, not the most talented of skaters, could struggle.
But he'll sign somewhere.
Mattias Sjögren: Hershey Bears (AHL)
Things did not end well with Mattias Sjögren in Hershey last year, as the big center returned to his native country halfway through the season, but he'll be left with little choice next season.
Rest assured, Sjögren is an NHL-quality talent, and will play a big role in Hershey next season. He is a good acquisition for them.
Joel Ward: Europe
A late bloomer, Joel Ward was still at the University of Prince Edward Island seven years ago. His links to the outside hockey world are limited.
That said, Joel Ward, while not flashy, is just the kind of player a European club could look to sign. Hard-working, reliable in both ends, and productive when placed in good situations, Ward will most likely find a team with which he can spend the 2012-2013 season, provided he has recovered from his offseason hernia surgery.
Wojtek Wolski: Polska Liga Hokejowa
When lockouts kick in, rules go out the window. Whether or not a league is prestigious becomes unimportant.
Wolski left Poland in 1989, when he was two, but still considers himself Polish and has even considered playing for Poland at the international level. Wolski was an OHL player during the last lockout. He could be a Polska Liga Hokejowa player this time around.