As August moves into September, it’s time to wrap up our look back and start focusing on the future… but first, one last Week in History to send summer packing!
In our last look for the summer at the week in Capitals history, we look at what might be the most barren week of activity thus far, with just three deals in more than 40 years. It has the look of folks getting an early start on a holiday weekend, that's for sure.
September 1, 1976. On this date in 1976, the Caps signed center Guy Charron as a free agent. By the time Charron arrived in Washington, he had already played in more than 400 NHL games with three teams (Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Kansas City Scouts), some of which were ghastly. The Red Wings missed the playoffs in all four full seasons he spent in the organization; the Scouts won just 27 games total in the two seasons in which Charron played for them... which made him almost a perfect fit for a Capitals club that won only 19 games over their their own first two seasons before Charron's arrival.
What Charron brought to the club was the profile of a player improving in his ability to put up points. In five full seasons before joining the Caps, Charron lifted his goal scored total form 9 to 27 and his point total from 25 to 71. His first year in Washington would be a career best: 36-46-82. The Caps won 24 games in that 1976-1977 season, not a total to be enthusiastic about, but it did exceed their win total over the previous two seasons. As for Charron, he pulled something of an "Ovechkin" that season. He finished ninth in the voting for the NHL All Star team at center and tied for eighth in the voting at left wing.
Charron ended up playing five seasons for the Caps, appearing in 320 games and going 118-156-274. After appearing in just 80 games over his last two seasons in Washington, his NHL career ended. He did continue his career in Europe before retiring from hockey at the end of the 1982-1983 season. He has some records one would rather not have attached to his resume. His 734 career regular season games without appearing in a postseason game is an NHL record. He is one of four players in NHL history to appear in more than 700 games and have a plus-minus worse than minus-200 (minus-208). He is, however, one of just 20 players in franchise history with at least 115 goals scored and 270 points recorded for the Caps.
September 3, 1977. Goaltender Gary Smith played in 14 NHL seasons (with a year in the WHA thrown in) and appeared in 532 games with seven different teams. The Caps became one of those teams on this date in 1977 when he signed with the Caps as a free agent. He worked himself into shape with his new club, but he would win only two games as a Capital in 17 appearances over the team's first 57 games.
With a record of 2-12-3 and a goals against average of 4.16, he was dealt to the Minnesota North Stars on Feburary 19, 1978 in a cash deal. At the end of the season, Smith left the North Stars for the World Hockey Association, where he played for two teams during the 1978-79 season before returning to the NHL the following year to end his career with the Winnipeg Jets.
September 4, 2013. Three years ago, it was about signing a prospect to an entry-level contract. That is what the Caps did with Andre Burakovsky on this date in 2013. Burakovsky was the Caps' first-round pick (23 overall) in the 2013 draft. After spending a year with the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League, Burakovsky was a surprise addition to the Caps' roster to open the 2014-15 season as a 19-year old, but made the deal look good when he scored a goal in his first NHL game against the Canadiens:
He's had some ups and downs since, but has still established himself as one of the best young players in club history. One of just six players 20 or younger to appear in more than 100 games for the Caps (132), he is eighth in career goals (26) among players 20 or younger and tied for seventh in total points in that group (60).
Three deals, three players that cover the range of experience. A veteran who gave credibility and a level of performance that might have been lost in memory with the passage of time, a journeyman who could count Washington among the many stops of his NHL career (brief as it was), and a youngster with his whole career still ahead of him. It might have been a light week, but it was not one without its charms.