The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is underway, but for the first time since 2014, the capitals are not in it. Although Wednesday's game 7 losses for the Carolina hurricanes are still fresh in the team's mind, there is no rest for the weary. The Offseason is now officially here and there is work to be done to prepare for the next season.
With that in mind, here are the biggest issues facing Caps this offseason.
Will Capsene rewrite Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby?
Backstrom and Holtby's current contracts expire at the end of the 2019-20 season, which means that they are only enclosed with Capitals for another year. Giving big name players to enter into the last year of their contract without a new deal in place can get messy and you often see teams seem to end these deals a year in advance.
But finding the right numbers for both players can prove difficult. Backstrom is 31
Meanwhile, Holtby is only 29 and still at the top of his game, but the team's future in the net, Ilya Samsonov, is now in North America. Caps may not be interested in committing to Holtby as their start to a long-term deal, especially since the Seattle Expansion Draft is only two years away, and Washington will only be able to protect a goalkeeper between Holtby and Samsonov.
How much money will Jakub Vrana and Christian Djoos take?
Of the team's limited free agents, two are almost certainly coming back in Washington next season. Vrana comes from a career-high 24-goal and 47-point season. Djoos fought in the first round of playoffs, but let's not forget that he played a crucial role in the 2018 Stanley Cup races in the 22 playoff games. All it will take to maintain its rights is to qualify him for his current $ 650,000 salary. I really see no reason why general manager Brian MacLellan would not do this.
The question then is how much of a journey will each player get?
Washington is a cap team and as a result they do not have a lot of money to work with. The more money both players end up with, the less the team must sign or re-register free agents.
Twisted raising will be significant as his cap in the 2018-19 season was only $ 863,333. With the team's cap crunch I see a bridge deal probably somewhere in the ballpark of $ 3 to 4 million a year.
Djoos & # 39; will not see so significantly a bump to his $ 650,000 cap hit and will probably enter somewhere in
Will Caps keep Andre Burakovsky and / or Chandler Stephenson?
The other limited freemasons from the current roster besides Vrana and Djoos are Burakovsky, Stephenson and Dmitry Jaskin. Jaskin played in just 37 games in the normal season and none in the playoffs. He just didn't seem to fit in with Todd Reirden's plans, and it would be bizarre if MacLellan chose to qualify him.
Having underperformed too much of the normal season, trading rumors began to spread over Burakovsky's future in Washington. However, MacLellan chose to hold onto him and he began to play well after the trading deadline and into the playoffs. Nevertheless, it will take a $ 3.25 cap to qualify him and it is a lot of money for a player who has shown that he is inclined to inconsistent play throughout his career, scoring only 12 goals in the normal season.
You wonder if we could see a similar tactic to what the team did with Devante Smith-Pelly last season. MacLellan chose not to qualify Smith-Pelly even after his brilliant playoff performance. It then took away the restriction of a qualified offer that allowed the team to sign Smith-Pelly on a lower cap hit. It's a risky move that can result in a player just going as a free agent, but I wouldn't be surprised if MacLellan went down a similar road with Burakovsky.
Regarding Stephenson, Reirden often plays and likes what he brings. I expect both players to return next season.
Can Caps allow you to sign Brett Connolly and / or Carl Hagelin?
You can never get enough 20 goals scoring, and Connolly is one of those caliber players. He scored a career high 22 goals for Washington this season and will likely generate a great deal of interest as an unlimited free agent. After struggling with two different franchises before landing in Washington, Connolly may want to stick to the only team he has managed to find success. However, due to the team's cap limitations, it is almost guaranteed that there will be other teams willing to offer Connolly more money and a bigger role than Caps can. Although he wants to stay in Washington, there is always a limit to how much money a player is willing to leave on the table. It will be difficult for Caps to keep him.
Hagelin was acquired on the trading deadline and integrated into his new team. He immediately became the best offender on the ice, and his versatility allowed the Reirden to play him in any line, depending on what the team needed. A player on the wrong side of 30, whose biggest asset is his speed is always a player to be wary of, as that speed will fall at a time with each passing year.
Is this the end of Brooks Orpik's time in Washington?
Orpik becomes 39 before the 2019-20 season begins. Given his age, it is reasonable to wonder if he has played his last NHL game. Although he decides to return next season, he played on one year's deal and Caps could choose not to sign him.
After a mediocre season, Orpik was good at the playoffs, and it could lead to MacLellan wondering about bringing him back to a cheap deal for mentor younger defenders not to be such a bad idea. In the end, however, it seems unlikely.
If MacLellan wants to pursue either Connolly or Hagelin, a cheap Orpik deal could make it almost impossible to make everything work under the cap. Plus, the Caps may not even need him. Assuming that the same players return, Caps blue line may look like this next season:
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Matt NIskanen
Jonas Siegenthaler – Nick Jensen
If the team brings him in for a final trip, any contractual talks with Orpik must make it clear that he is not going to be an everyday player and he will be expected to mentor the younger guy.
Does Capsne have any cap flexibility at all?
The wage capsule is expected to be around $ 83 million next year. However, the ceiling for Washington will be $ 1.15 million below it due to overpayment from performance bonuses paid in 2018-19. New offers for Nic Dowd, Nick Jensen and Pheonix Copley kick in next season, all of which include raising for these players. The recurring RFAs will chew even more cap space with swings to their cap hits, especially the Vrana.
There will be little or no cap space for Washington to work on this offseason. It's a problem considering depth assessment is always so crucial to a team's success, and Caps may be forced to let players like Connolly and Hagelin go. If they do, MacLellan will have to find a cheap way to replace them and still have bottom depth six.
Could all of this cause the team to try to pay wages in the offseason and if so, who would MacLellan try to send out? He can have no choice if he hopes to keep one of the team's UFAs or replace them with players of similar value.
More capital requirements: