Caps Schedule Announced; Restricted Free Agents Signed

July 15, 2009 | Ed Frankovic

Caps 2009-10 Regular Season Schedule

The Washington Capitals’ 82-game regular-season schedule for 2009-10 begins on Thursday, Oct. 1, at the Boston Bruins, a matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference from last season. The Capitals will make their Verizon Center debut on Saturday, Oct. 3, when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second game of the season.

The 2009-10 NHL schedule format, similar to last season’s, has the Capitals facing the other teams in the Southeast Division six times each and the remaining Eastern Conference opponents four times each. Washington plays each team in the Western Conference at least once, with two games each against Columbus, Detroit and San Jose. Nine Western Conference teams will visit Verizon Center.

The 2009-10 schedule includes a two-week break for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, which will feature NHL players. The Capitals will be off for 17 days from Feb. 14-March 2. They play the first game after the break on the road (March 3 at Buffalo) but are home for the next five games, the longest homestand of the season. That is one of seven homestands of at least three games on the schedule.

Washington has only three stretches of four straight games on the road, one of which is interrupted by the Olympic break and another where the team will return home between games. The team has 13 sets of games on consecutive days, the same number as 2008-09.

More than half of the Capitals’ 41 home games at Verizon Center fall on weekends, including nine Friday games, six Saturday games and six Sunday games. The schedule features holiday home games on the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 25 vs. Buffalo), the day after Christmas (Dec. 26 vs. New Jersey) and Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 7 vs. Pittsburgh).

All but six of Washington’s home games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m., with the exceptions all falling on Sunday afternoons.

Television and radio broadcast plans will be released at a later date.

Caps Sign Restricted Free Agents

The Washington Capitals have signed defenseman Shaone Morrisonn and forwards Eric Fehr, Chris Bourque and Kyle Wilson to one-year contracts and forward Steve Pinizzotto to a two year-contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Morrisonn, 26, completed his fourth full season with the Capitals in 2008-09 and tied his career high with three goals. He also added 10 assists and tied for third among club defensemen with 13 points, one point off of the career high he registered in 2005-06. Morrisonn scored the game-winning goal in overtime on Dec. 23 at the New York Rangers to help the Capitals erase a four-goal deficit and win 5-4. He had his best month of the season in February when he recorded two goals and three assists. He ended the season with a +4 rating, averaged 17:59 of ice time per game and his 77 penalty minutes tied for second on the team. The Caps were 8-2-2 when Morrisonn recorded a point (3-0-0 when he scored a goal).

The Vancouver, British Columbia native was acquired from the Boston Bruins in 2004 and has played 350 career NHL games, 309 of them for the Capitals. He has been a plus player in each year of his NHL career and has 58 points (9g-49a) and 355 penalty minutes. In 21 Stanley Cup playoff games – all with the Capitals – Morrison has two assists and 14 penalty minutes.

Fehr, 23, spent his first full year with the Capitals last season after splitting time between Washington and Hershey of the American Hockey League (AHL) the past three years. He set career highs in goals (12), assists (13) and points (25) while averaging 11:14 of ice time. Fehr’s +8 rating tied him with Alex Ovechkin for the fifth-best mark on the team. Washington was 39-16-6 when he played and only 11-8-2 when he did not play. He tallied two game-winning goals and the team was 10-1-1 when he scored a goal and 16-3-1 when he had a point.

The Winkler, Manitoba, native was the Capitals’ first-round choice, 18th overall, in the 2003 Entry Draft. He has played in 109 career games for Washington, potting 15 goals and dishing out 19 assists. He was also an integral member of the Hershey club that won the 2006 Calder Cup. In 19 playoff games that year, he had eight goals, three assists and scored the overtime game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to lift the Bears to the Calder Cup Final.

Bourque, 23, appeared in eight games for the Capitals last season and scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 30 at Buffalo. He played in 69 games for Hershey and tallied 21 goals and was second on the team with 52 assists. His 73 points ranked third on the team. Bourque played in 22 Calder Cup playoff games, recording 21 points (5g-16a), as he helped lead Hershey to the Calder Cup championship.

The Boston, Mass., native was the Capitals’ second-round choice, 33rd overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He has played in 12 career game for Washington and has one goal. He has 82 goals and 148 assists in four seasons with Hershey.

Wilson, 24, spent his third season with Hershey in 2008-09, finishing fifth on the Bears in scoring with 58 points (28 goals, 30 assists) in 80 games. He was third on the Bears in goals and tied for fourth with seven power-play goals. Wilson added 10 points (three goals, seven assists) while playing all 22 playoff games in the Bears’ run to the Calder Cup.

Wilson, who originally signed with Washington as a free agent in July 2007, has recorded at least 25 goals and 55 points in each of his three AHL seasons. The collegiate standout at Colgate University is a native of Oakville, Ontario, and was originally drafted by Minnesota in the ninth round of the 2004 NHL Draft.

Pinizzotto, 25, played 45 games with Hershey and 11 with the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL last season. He recorded four goals and seven assists with Hershey and four goals and six assists with South Carolina. The Mississauga, Ontario, native had three goals and five points in 21 playoff games to help Hershey win the Calder Cup.

The Capitals signed Pinnizzotto as a free agent on March 16, 2007.

COMMENTS: TSN is reporting that Fehr signed for $771.75K, which is a good deal for Washington. If Fehr can stay healthy he has the potential to be a 20 goal scorer next year. I am curious to see how much Morrisonn was paid, TSN does not have that figure up yet but Corey Masisak of the Washington Times is reporting he will get $1.975M, the same amount he made last season. There is some confusion over whether or not defenseman Jeff Schultz signed his qualifying offer, which included a 5% raise. The Caps Assistant General Manager and salary cap guru, Don Fishman, as reported by Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post, is saying Washington did not get #55′s signed offer by 5pm while Tarik also points out that TSN and two people close to Schultz assert he did sign the offer. Stay tuned on that one. Defenseman Milan Jurcina, who is a restricted free agent, is going to arbitration so we won’t know what will happen with him until that hearing is over or the Caps negotiate something else with him. For Bourque, this is a make or break year for him with the Caps, in my opinion. Wilson is destined for Hershey this season and Pinnizzotto will be there as well, although “Pinner” does have a chance, because of his tenacity and toughness, to see some time with the big club in DC. I have liked him ever since I first saw him play at Caps development camp in July of 2008.

One final note, former Capital great and team captain, Dale Hunter, dropped in at Kettler Ice Plex today and spoke with Mike Vogel of WashingtonCaps.com. You can see the interview here.

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