The Washington Capitals have holes to plug this off-season. In past seasons, Brian MacLellan has judiciously identified problems and filled them. What have the Capitals done so far, and what do they need when free agency opens July 1st?

TJ Oshie Re-signed

Sorry Blackhawks fans.

Oshie will be a Capital for the next eight years.

The contract is for eight years, $46 million. That is an AAV of $5.75 million per year.

While it is long term wise, the big thing to focus on is the price per year. These are the comparable contracts thanks to CapFriendly.

https://www.capfriendly.com/comparables/tj-oshie-7673

Per year, Oshie is taking less money than Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo, and a host of other players that are not as productive as him. While Oshie is a one-time 30 goal scorer, what he brings to the Capitals is a host of classic cliches. He is a locker room presence and decent human being that young players can learn from. That Oshie was willing to take less money to stay in DC is big. Considering this is his last contract, it could have been a lot worse. Only time will tell if the term is a good or bad thing. However, the trends do not look great.

https://www.sbnation.com/nhl/2014/3/17/5507218/nhl-stats-aging-curves-forward-types  (Graph via Eric Tulsky)

Brett Connolly Re-signed

This is an underrated deal for the Caps. At $1.5 million AAV for his production, Connolly is also taking less money than he is worth.

Signing depth at lower than expected value? Take it.

The Need to Re-sign other RFA’s

Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov all need contracts. Their cheap days are over. These are two rough estimates of what they could cost. One is on the cheaper end, the other more expensive.

If the Caps over spend, that means they cannot re-sign any of their other pending UFA’s. It could leave gaps in the lineup, or it could leave them with a bit more cap space for cheaper players. Either way, they are cornerstone players for the Caps, and they cannot afford to lose them.

Trade Players That Eat Cap Space

Finally, the Caps must abandon players that will have high cap hits. The two prime candidates are Brooks Orpik and Philipp Grubauer.

Orpik is on the books for two more years. His $4.5 million cap hit is killer for a 3rd pairing defenseman. The Caps could bury him in the minors if they cannot trade him. However, it would only save them $1 million a season. If the Caps bump up two of their budding defensemen from Hershey, that would justify Orpik’s place in the lineup. It would be better to get rid of the contract all together though.

Grubauer is a fantastic back up goalie. On any other team, he is a starter. Backing up Braden Holtby is the best Grubauer can do in Washington. Spending $2.5 million on a back up goalie would be fine most years. This is not one of them. Unless Grubauer stays at his current price, the Caps have to trade him and elevate Vitek Vanicek or Phoenix Copley to save cap space.

Either way, GMBM will have tough calls to make both for his lineup and to other franchises. Let’s get silly.


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Author Details
My name is Julia, and I’m a Bethesda, MD native. I became an ice hockey fan after my dad took me to a Capitals game when I was 7, but quickly realized most 5’2” southern girls don’t become Peter Bondra. I’m a 2015 graduate of Mount Holyoke College where I studied psycholinguistics, which is a fancy way of saying why people talk funny. By day I’m a graduate student at UMD studying journalism.
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My name is Julia, and I’m a Bethesda, MD native. I became an ice hockey fan after my dad took me to a Capitals game when I was 7, but quickly realized most 5’2” southern girls don’t become Peter Bondra. I’m a 2015 graduate of Mount Holyoke College where I studied psycholinguistics, which is a fancy way of saying why people talk funny. By day I’m a graduate student at UMD studying journalism.

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