During the NHL lockout, Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle caught himself watching the 2011 Winter Classic. That night at Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Penguins was a showcase for the oft-injured Eric Fehr.
"What a game he had," Beagle said.
There weren't many of those games for Fehr during parts of six seasons with the Caps spent battling a barrage of shoulder injuries. But he's getting another chance now.
The Caps are expected to sign Fehr to a one-year contract as soon as the NHL opens for business and the right wing passes a physical, a team source said Saturday. The deal will count $600,000 against the salary cap, and Fehr will be paid that pro-rated amount for a 48-game season.
The 27-year-old was the No. 18 pick in the 2003 draft, just ahead of Ryan Getzlaf. Considered one of hockey's top prospects, he dealt with injuries to both shoulders that required surgery.
During parts of six seasons in Washington, Fehr had 46 goals and 47 assists. He never played more than 69 games in a season.
The Caps dumped Fehr's $2.2 million cap hit in July 2011 in a trade to the Winnipeg Jets for a fourth-round pick and minor league enforcer Danick Paquette.
The Winkler, Manitoba, native played in just 35 games for the Jets, starting late because of a shoulder problem and getting benched as a healthy scratch. Known for his scoring, Fehr had just two goals and one assist.
Now he's more than a year and a half removed from the most recent shoulder surgery and back to his scoring ways, judging from his lighting up Finland's SM-Liiga. Fehr had 13 goals and 12 assists in 21 games for HPK Hameenlinna during the lockout.
"To have him come back, that's pretty cool," said Beagle, a friend of Fehr's who was taken by surprise to learn from reporters about the signing. "I think he's a real skilled player. Good right-handed shot. He also, in the locker room, is just a great guy. He's just a great guy to have on the team."
Fehr should bring some forward depth for a team looking to find scoring to replace Alexander Semin. It remains to be seen how he holds up with more hits in the NHL than he dealt with in Finland.
Green has Lasik
Mike Green skated a little too close to goaltender Michal Neuvirth during Saturday's informal skate, but he had a good excuse.
"I had Lasik eye surgery [Thursday] so my vision's a little off," the defenseman said. "I didn't realize he was that close to me. I apologize though."
Green, 27, said he's finally 100 percent almost a year after sports hernia surgery to take care of a nagging groin injury.
"No more pain; my mobility was good again," Green said. "And I had that hop in my step that I didn't have before."
His eyes should be OK for the start of training camp Sunday without any side effects, he said.
Green had the procedure for on-ice reasons.
"I had a blurry puck, so I need to see it clearly," he said. "That's it."
Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler grew up a St. Louis Blues fan, but spending time with Caps forward Matt Hendricks on a USO Tour in December changed things.
"He took my Blues hat off and he told me I needed a Capitals hat," Detwiler said. "Two weeks later, Christmas came around. I got a Capitals hat and haven't taken it off since."
In town this weekend for a wedding, Detwiler was at the team's practice facility Saturday to watch an informal skate and see Hendricks. Detwiler was busy into October and then again when he went overseas; in between he longed for hockey during the lockout.
"Hockey's my offseason," Detwiler said. "I've kind of missed hockey this year so far, so this is kind of my fix."
You can't take St. Louis out of Detwiler, but he said "D.C.'s kind of growing on me." The friendship with Hendricks might also cause him to be more of a D.C. sports fan.
"Knowing Hendricks now I'll definitely keep tabs a little more. The Blues are kind of fading away now and I'm going to start following the Caps a little bit more," Detwiler said. "I've never been to a Caps game. Hopefully in a couple weeks when they're playing again I'll be able to go out there and go to the Verizon Center. I've heard the atmosphere is unbelievable for Caps games, so I'm just excited to go out there and do that."
Goaltender Michal Neuvirth skated Saturday, too, though he's still battling an illness. He and forward Wojtek Wolski were the newcomers on the ice ... Only four players took off Saturday, the day before the start of camp: goaltender Braden Holtby and forwards Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson and Mike Ribeiro. ... First-round pick Tom Wilson is expected to be on the ice for the start of training camp after leaving his junior team and traveling to Washington on Saturday.
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