After another year of playoff disappointment, the Capitals find themselves at a crossroads. 11 players are either Restricted Free Agents or Unrestricted Free Agents, and not everyone can be signed. The team will look different next season, but who will be the familiar faces?
Let’s start with the RFA’s, since those will be a bit easier to weed through. All contract info thanks to the awesome capfriendly.com
Current Contract: 2 years, $3 million per
Chances of Re-Signing: Extremely high. Having to face Nicklas Backstrom and Kuzy back-to-back is a nightmare for most teams. Kuzy also had an incredibly productive season with 19 goals and 40 assists. Look for either a larger bridge deal or for Kuzy to take it to arbitration if the Caps attempt to low-ball either term or monetary amount. Plus, how can you say no to the bird walk celly?
Current Contract: 3 years, $894,167 per
Chances of Re-Signing: Extremely high. If he had not broke his hand about three quarters through the season, Burakovsky would have had his best season to date. He can slot into the first line wing position on either side as he did in the playoffs and put up solid numbers. However, his entry level contract days are done. Burakovsky will also get a bridge deal and he cannot go to arbitration yet, so look for some bigger dollar numbers.
Current Contract: 1 year, $850,000
Chances of Re-Signing: Medium to low. Connolly got a Caps bump by putting up a career high 15 goals. He might request more money. With good cheap prospects waiting in the wings, it is possible Washington lets him walk. Connolly could also go to arbitration if he really wants to stay.
Current Contract: 2 years, $2 million per
Chances of Re-Signing: Very high. Orlov carried the defensive load this past year on a stellar pairing with Matt Niskanen. Management and coaching stated they wanted him to step up, and he did. This was Orlov’s bridge deal, so look for a deal similar to John Carlson’s of 6 years, $3.9 million per.
Current Contract: 2 years, $812,500 per
Chances of Re-Signing: High if he is not taken by Vegas first. Schmidt stepped in for an injured Karl Alzner during the playoffs. He proved he belongs in the lineup every night in a top 4 roll. Look for him to get Dmitry Orlov’s old bridge deal of 2 years $2 million per. If that does not work he is arbitration eligible.
Current Contract: 2 years $750,000
Chances of Re-Signing: This depends highly on whether or not Vegas picks him up. Everyone and their mother thinks Vegas will pick up Grubauer. McPhee has stated he wants former Capitals on his roster. Slotting Grubauer, a McPhee draft pick, into the backup or starter roll would make too much sense. Plus, the Caps can afford to lose him. Both Vitek Vanicek and Ilya Samsonov have been making good progress in the minors and KHL. However, who wants to lose these types of saves?
Now moving onto the UFA’s. This is where things get really dicey.
Current Contract: 5 years (3 with St. Louis, 2 with Capitals), $4.175 million per
Chances of Re-Signing: Toss up. Oshie wants to stay. Management wants him to stay. However, he just hit 30 goals for the first time in his career, Oshie could make some serious bank. The only way Washington can re-sign him is if he takes a very big hometown discount. Is he willing to do that to stay successful, or will he test the open market?
Current Contract: 2 years, $3.25 million per
Chances of Re-Signing: Low to medium. Williams is a steady 2nd liner, but he is 35 years old. It is possible Burakovsky takes his slot on the 2nd line. It is also possible Tom Wilson finds a way to take over that slot. The Capitals have a few options for replacing him, so they will probably do it. If he does go, Caps fans will miss the sick dance moves.
Current Contract: 2 years, $2.25 million per
Chances of Re-Signing: Low. A 4th line winger getting over $2 million? Slot in a Hershey Bear who is much cheaper and needs the experience.
Current Contract: 4 years, $2.8 million per
Chances of Re-Signing: Low. Alzner may be the Capitals iron man, but his speed took a big hit after undergoing sports hernia surgery. He also broke his hand in the playoffs. There are plenty of teams willing to overpay him. The Capitals, if they are wise, will not give him a Brooks Orpik level contract. He is for sure a Calgary Flame or Edmonton Oiler next season.
Current Contract: 4 years, $4.25 per (barely 1 year with the Caps)
Chances of Re-Signing: 0%. Shattenkirk is intrigued by the Vegas draft and will probably make a decent New York Ranger. Lord knows they need some help on that blue line.