As we inch towards the dog days of summer, here's a look at some things that have happened this week in franchise history.
The week of July 11-17 is in the dead of summer for most folks, but it has actually been a rather active week in Capitals' franchise history... in fact, some of the most consequential personnel actions in team history have taken place during this week. Let's take a look.
July 11, 1984 Caps signed Marc Chorney, a journeyman defenseman who had 210 games of NHL experience by the time he was signed by the Caps. Of those games, 139 of them came as a defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins... just like his son Taylor, who went on to play for his dad's old squad more than three decades later.
July 11, 2001: Of course, that Penguins connection would never be stronger than back in 2001, when the Caps made what is perhaps one of the two most significant trades in team history by acquiring Jaromir Jagr and Frantisek Kucera from Pittsburgh for Kris Beech, Ross Lupaschuk, Michal Sivek.
This one qualified as an "I remember where I was when I heard" moment, one of those deals that looked good at the time from both sides of the table. Years later, we would learn that this was not seen as a good idea by the man who was asked to execute the deal.
We dare say that most Caps fans, even if they liked the deal at the time, would agree.
July 11, 2009: It was almost certainly coincidence, but the Caps would not make another deal on this date for another eight years, when they signed Boyd Kane on July 11, 2009. Kane would never leave much of a footprint with the Caps, playing only eight games over two seasons four years apart among the 31 games of NHL experience he compiled. However, he was a mainstay of the AHL affiliate Hershey Bears, playing in 365 regular season and 58 postseason games with the club, winning a Calder Cup in 2006 and 2010.
July 11, 2011: Caps signed Christian Hanson, then a 25-year old defenseman who bounced between the Toronto Maple Leafs (37 games) and their AHL affiliate Marlies (96 games) before landing with the Caps. He never dressed for the Caps, appearing in 52 games for Hershey in 2011-2012 before heading on the Boston Bruins organization.
- July 11, 2012: Caps signed Wojtek Wolski. He signed just in time for the 2012-13 lockout, spending his off time playing a few games for Ciarno Sanok in Poland. When the NHL season commenced in January, Wolski dressed for 27 games for the Caps in what would be his final NHL season, going 4-5-9, plus-1. He left the Caps at the end of the 2012-13 season, signing with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in the KHL in May 2013.
July 12, 1995: Caps acquired Philadelphia's third-round pick in the 1996 Entry Draft from the Colorado Avalanche for John Slaney. Not an especially memorable moment, considering that pick was used to select Shawn McNeil, a center who never played in an NHL game and played in only one AHL-level game. If there is anything noteworthy about the pick, it is who the Caps passed on to make it. With the next pick in that draft, the Colorado Avalanche took Mark Parrish, who would go on to score 216 goals in 722 games with seven clubs in his NHL career.
July 12, 1996: Caps signed Daniel Laperriere. Formerly of the St. Louis Blues, who drafted him in 1989 and for whom he played in 29 games over three seasons, and the Ottawa Senators (19 games), he never dressed for the Caps, although he did play in 69 games for the Caps' AHL affiliate in Portland before moving on to Europe for the rest of his career.
July 12, 2006: Caps acquired Richard Zednik from the Montreal Canadiens for a third-round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft. It would be Zednik's second tour with the team that drafted him over a decade earlier and for whom he played almost six seasons.
His second tour of duty in DC would not last nearly as long. After going 6-12-18, minus-4 in 32 games for the Caps in the 2006-07 regular season, he was shipped off to the New York Islanders in a trade for a second-round draft pick used to select defenseman Theo Ruth in the 2007 entry draft... who was then traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Sergei Fedorov. Fedorov would prove to be an important late-season addition in 2007-08, with his final NHL goal a year later becoming one of the most thrilling in team history:
July 13, 1990: Caps trade Geoff Courtnall to the St. Louis Blues for Peter Zezel and Mike Lalor. The immediate returns on that trade did little for the Caps; Zezel was 7-5-12, minus-13, in 20 games for the Caps in the 1990-1991 season, while Lalor went 6-12-18, minus-9, in 132 games over two seasons for the Caps. Both players would subsequently be traded, Lalor to the Winnipeg Jets in the 1991-92 season for Paul McDermid and Zezel heading to Toronto in January 1991 with defenseman Bob Rouse for defenseman Al Iafrate, who would go on to play 256 games for the Caps and score 58 goals, eighth among defensemen in club history.
- July 13, 2010: Caps signed Brian Willsie as a free agent. It was another second tour for a former Capital, in Willsie's case after appearing in 131 games over the 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons. This time around, Willsie spent all but one game of the 2010-11 season with the Hershey Bears, playing just one game with the Caps - his last in the NHL.
- July 13, 2012: Caps signed Filip Forsberg to a three-year entry level contract. Whatever happened to that guy?
July 14, 1995: Not all dates are significant in a club's lifetime; amid the interesting trades and signings are deals lost to history, including this one back in 1995 that saw the Caps obtain goaltender Mike Torchia from the Dallas Stars in a cash deal. Torchia never appeared in a game for the Caps, but did become part of the trade to the Ducks the following March for Todd Krygier, who spent three years with the Caps, including their Stanley Cup run in 1998.
July 14, 1998: Caps signed Dmitri Mironov. Mironov brought postseason experience and success to the Caps, having been a member of the Detroit team that swept them in the Stanley Cup final the previous spring (although he did not dress in the series). Mironov wrapped up his NHL career with the Caps, playing in 155 regular season and four postseason games over three seasons with the club before having his career cut short by a back injury he suffered in the 2000-01 season.
July 14, 2003: Caps acquired Alexander Riazantsev from the Nashville Predators for Mike Farrell. Not only did Riazantsev never dress for the Caps, he would never dress for a game in North America again, joining Yaroslavl Lokomotiv in Russia for the 2003-04 season and playing the rest of his career with a variety of teams in Russian leagues.
That same day, the Caps signed Andrej Podkonicky and Garret Stroshein as free agents. Between them they appeared in five games for the Capitals, all of them in the 2003-04 season. Neither recorded a point, and they combined for a total of 29 minutes of ice time.
July 14, 2006: Caps signed free agent Chad Wiseman, who never played for the club (although he did play in 64 regular season and playoff games for Hershey in 2006-07). They also signed Alexandre Giroux, who played in just 30 games with the Caps over four seasons from 2006 to 2010 (interrupted with a brief stay in the Atlanta Thrashers organization), but was a monster with the Bears, scoring 166 goals in 229 regular season games and another 36 goals in 67 postseason games.
The third and final free-agent signing on this date was Donald Brashear, a veteran of more than 800 regular season and postseason games whose most recent home had been a four-year stint with the Flyers. Over the course of 800 regular season and postseason games in his career, he amassed almost 2,300 minutes in penalties; 231 of those games (and 396 regular-season penalty minutes) were with the Caps.
July 14, 2011: Caps signed Jacob Micflikier, a player who would not appear with the Caps in his one season in the organization before heading to Europe.
- July 14, 2012: Caps signed Matt Clackson, who would appear in 19 games with the Hershey Bears (none with the Caps) before being traded to the Coyotes for defenseman Joel Rechlicz.
- July 15, 2014: Caps signed Jakub Vrana (the 13th-overall pick of the 2014 entry draft) and goaltender Vitek Vanecek (a second-rounder in that same 2014 draft) to entry-level deals.
July 16, 1990: If there is one day in franchise history that Caps fans wish could have a do-over, it might be this one. Defenseman Scott Stevens had just completed his eighth season with the Caps, having recorded 98 goals and 429 points in 601 regular season games and earning a reputation as one of the most fearsome hitters in the league. At the age of 26 and just entering what was likely to be his prime, he was an attractive commodity in the restricted free agent market.
He was certainly attractive enough to the St. Louis Blues, who tendered a four-year/$5.145 million contract offer sheet (along with a $1.4 million signing bonus) to Stevens, quite a raise from the $300,000 he earned for the 1989-1990 season. He signed the offer sheet on July 6, putting the Caps on the clock for one week to decide whether to match the offer or get five first-round draft picks in return.
The Capitals ultimately chose not to match the offer, and with their draft picks selected Trevor Halverson (1991), Sergei Gonchar (1992), Brendan Witt (1993), and Miika Elomo (1995). The Caps traded their 1994 pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs along with Mike Ridley for Rob Pearson and a first round pick that became Nolan Baumgartner.
Even if this was arguably the most productive trade in Caps history, it still cost the Caps. Stevens went on to win three Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils and is regarded as one of the best defensemen in league history.
- July 16, 1999: Caps acquired Craig Billington from Colorado for future considerations. Billington played four seasons in Washington to close out his NHL career, primarily as a backup to Olaf Kolzig. In 47 games he was 11-19-7, 2.95, .894, with two shutouts.
July 17, 1984: Caps signed Paul Gardner away from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Gardner played only one season with the Caps, appearing in 12 games in the 1984-1985 season (2-4-6, minus-1). He left for the Buffalo Sabres the following year in what would be his last NHL season.
- July 17, 2007: Caps signed Jason Morgan. Morgan put the "journey" in journeyman, having played in 44 regular season games over five seasons between 1996 and 2007 with five different clubs; the Caps would not be the sixth, as Morgan never dressed for the team, instead playing in 74 games with Hershey before moving on to Europe for the last two years of his professional career.
- July 17, 2009: The week in history concludes with a trade, the Caps getting the frequently dealt "future considerations" from the Calgary Flames for defenseman Keith Seabrook. Those "considerations" became a seventh round pick in the 2012 entry draft that turned into defenseman Christian Djoos.
And there you have it! A traditionally sleepy week that yielded plenty of filler, but also a couple of franchise-changing - and perhaps franchise-defining - moves.