More Changes: Caps Sign Ward & Hamrlik

July 01, 2011 | Ed Frankovic

Washington Capitals GM George McPhee continues to be busy on Canada Day. He has now signed free agent forward Joel Ward, who played in Nashville last season, and defensemen Roman Hamrlik, who was in Montreal in 2010-11, to multi-year contracts. Ward, who is 30 years old and plays a physical, grinding style, reportedly is receiving $12M for four years while Hamrlik, who is a left handed puck moving defensemen, will get two years at $3.5M per season. With Ward, Troy Brouwer, and Brooks Laich up front the Capitals have gotten more physical and gritty where they need to be while Hamrlik is likely a replacement for the injured and possibly soon to be retired Tom Poti. Hamrlik is not slow and can move the puck and with Mike Green, Dennis Wideman, and John Carlson out or banged up in the second round of the playoffs the rest of the defense was exposed badly for being immobile. This signing won’t provide grit on the back end, but it provides puck moving and more speed.

Like I blogged following the sesason ending loss to Tampa Bay, major changes needed to occur for the Capitals to get over the hump in the post season and McPhee is clearly going that route. I still don’t think the Capitals are done dealing, they are up against the salary cap, and still need to sign Brouwer and Karl Alzner. One has to think that Alexander Semin may be moved to open up that room.

Below are the respective press releases from the Capitals for Ward and Hamrlik:

The Washington Capitals have signed right wing Joel Ward to a four-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ward, 30, recorded 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) and 42 penalty minutes in 80 games last season with the Nashville Predators. He ranked second among Nashville forwards in blocked shots (57), third in takeaways (51) and fourth in hits (67). In addition, Ward led the Predators in goals (7), assists (6) and points (13) in 12 games during the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. He recorded a point in nine of Nashville’s 12 postseason games (including four straight).

During the 2009-10 season, Ward set a career-high in assists (21) and posted personal bests in shots (134) and average ice time. The North York, Ontario native scored a career-high 17 goals and added 18 assists during the 2008-09 season with Nashville. He tied for fourth on the club in goals and ranked third in shooting percentage (12.8%). He was one of three Predators to notch multiple shorthanded goals (2) and was tied for eighth among NHL forwards in blocked shots (69).

Ward, a 6’1’’, 218-pound forward, has appeared in 241 career NHL games with Minnesota and Nashville, posting 99 points (40 goals, 59 assists) and 89 penalty minutes. He also appeared in 18 career postseason games with the Predators, collecting 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) and eight penalty minutes.

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The Washington Capitals have signed free agent defenseman Roman Hamrlik to a two-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hamrlik, 37, recorded 34 points (five goals, 29 assists) in 79 games with the Montreal Canadiens last season. He finished second amongst Montreal blueliners in points, first in assists and third in goals. The 6’2”, 207-pound defenseman logged the third-most minutes (22:16) per-game with Montreal and collected three assists in seven postseason games.

The Zlin, Czech Republic, native has played the second-most games (1,311) and ranks fourth in goals (153), assists (471) and points (624) amongst active NHL defensemen. The first-overall pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft has played in 97 postseason games, recording 36 points (two goals, 34 assists) and 73 penalty minutes. Hamrlik is an 18-year NHL veteran and has played for Tampa Bay, Edmonton, the New York Islanders, Calgary and Montreal.

The three-time NHL All-Star (1996, 1993, 2003) set career-highs in goals (16), assists (49) and points (65) during the 1995-96 season as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning and won a gold medal as a member of the Czech Republic at the 1998 Olympics. He also represented his country at the 2002 Olympics, the World Cup (1996, 2004), the World Championships (1994, 2004) and the World Junior Championships (1992).

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