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FlightZone: Washington's Center Pothole Finally Filled

And just in time for incredible pressure to be placed upon him!

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

All sarcasm aside, I really am happy for the Washington Capitals. After a search which included second-line "solutions" such as Brooks Laich, Mikhail Grabovski, Nicklas Backstrom (with Jay Beagle given top-line duties), Mike Ribeiro and Jason Arnott, Washington believes they finally have their man in Evgeny Kuznetsov.

I wish him luck, and he very well might need it. That's because the aforementioned Backstrom is coming off hip surgery, and a recent article from CSN Washington points out the double whammy this causes. Not only might Washington's #1 center miss out on some or all of training camp, but the injury has limited Backstrom's ability to work on conditioning in the off-season. Aside from potentially putting him behind the eight ball for the entire 2015-16 season, the trickle down means Washington's 2C will be under even more pressure than usual to produce.

While he'll have the benefit of another year's growth and development, not to mention the stabilizing complimentary piece which is Justin Williams, it's going to be a lot to ask of a 23 year old entering his second full NHL season.

And now, the news.

Central Division

It may be the wrong team (am I contractually obliged to say that?), but this flipbook depicting 2015 SCF Game 6 highlights is still one of the cooler things you'll see all summer. (CBS Chicago)

In today's 'Get To Know Your Opponent!', here's some speculation on Colorado's 2015-16 forward lines and defensive pairings. (Mile High Sticking)

I know he's toeing the party line here, but Jeff Reese is correct that having both Niemi and Lehtonen is a good thing. At least one of them has to provide league average goaltending, right? (NHL)

My only complaint with this rundown of the Perds' off-season is that if Mike Ribeiro is an "aged center", then so is Mike Fisher. They're both born in 1980, and only one of them missed 21 games with an achilles injury last season. (On the Forecheck)

And that's Magnus Paajarvi signed. Readers, help me set an over/under on the number of players who will actually have an arbitration hearing. (Arch Authority)

Speaking of the Blues (they need to stop making news), we should probably look at Tarasenko's contract as a new standard-bearer so far as stars and hopefully-soon-to-be stars coming out of their ELCs. (TSN)

And All The Rest

Brent Burns wanting a tiger is the least surprising completely awesome story I've read all off-season. (Sportsnet)

Sam Reinhart, potential NHL defenceman. (The StarPhoenix)

Matt Beleskey and his 15.2 shooting percentage knew it was time to be more than a grinder. For Boston's sake, I hope it wasn't a flash in the pan. (NHL)

We can debate the closeness of Valentin Zykov to the NHL, but his interview skills are already top-notch. (Mayor's Manor)

Reading about 'Red Wings scout Kris Draper' looking at X prospect has yet to feel right. But here we are, looking at newly drafted prospect Vili Saarijarvi and the possibilities he faces in 2015-16. (Buzzing the Net)

The potential is there for the Stamkos Contract Watch to shadow McDavid Watch all of next season. Unless you want a daily helping of Stamkos-to-Toronto news articles, pray that he re-signs and pronto. (Tampa Bay Times)

Now here's an intriguing situation I hadn't even started thinking about yet: could the Vancouver Canucks be poised to begin a rebuild proper? (ProHockeyTalk)

Goalies as we all know are black magic voodoo. Given this, I quite like Philadelphia's gameplan of not putting all their eggs in one basket, though 3 goalies selected in a single draft does seem a bit excessive. (

Instead of having Nikita Kucherov completely break the bank following a 'bridge deal' (see: Subban, P.K.), our Tampa Bay-focused friends advocate signing him long-term straight off his ELC. This seems reminiscent of a certain Tarasenko post above. (Raw Charge)

And finally, the Torontoist is not a publication I associate with sports articles but even they felt the need to debunk Steve Simmons' now-infamous hot dog hit piece. Godspeed, Brad MacDonald. (Torontoist)

Thanks for reading! Be sure to mention in the Comments section below whether or not you believe hot dogs are a sandwich.