The Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals have some tough decisions to make. According to the website CapFriendly, the Caps have just over $11 million in cap space ($75 million ceiling) to sign some big name free agents that are due some raises. In this piece, I am going to talk about who should stay and who should go.
If the price is right, the Caps should sign him. Oliver Ekman-Larsson just signed an eight-year extension worth $8.25 million per year. Over his career, Ekman-Larsson has 290 points in 576 games, a .5 points per game ratio. Carlson, on the other hand, has 333 points in 608 career games, almost a .58 point per game clip. The Caps should try and keep this deal under $8 million if possible, even if that means giving Carlson term. If not, the Caps are either going to lose Carlson or trade someone with salary.
Wilson had a breakout season and the restricted free agent is due for a raise. Wilson scored 35 points in 78 regular season games and then 15 in the playoffs. His last contract was a two-year, two million per year contract. Don’t be surprised if both of those numbers double. Bringing back Wilson should be priority number one for the Caps.
Kempny was a steal for Washington at the deadline, as they traded only a third-round pick to Chicago for him. Kempny provided stability on the Caps defensive end that was much needed. Kempny made a mere $700,000 a season ago. I expect Kempny to get between $1-2.5 million for two or three years. The Caps should try and keep Kempny any way they can.
While DSP had a huge playoff, his regular season was less than desirable. Smith-Pelly is a restricted free agent, as he is only 26. The Caps should extend him a qualifying offer so that if another team signs him, the Caps will get some compensation. For the Caps, they should not give him more than a couple of years at $1.25 million.
It is time for the Caps to move on from Beagle. He has had a great tenure in Washington, but at some point, it must come to an end. There is no better way for it to end than on top. The Caps have younger and faster options for the fourth line center.
Chiasson did not have a year worthy of bringing back. Like Beagle, the Caps have younger and faster options available.
Boyd, 24, is that replacement center for Beagle. He is young and fast and is a restricted free agent that shouldn’t command much money this summer. Without a doubt, he should be brought back next season.
Bowey had an up and down rookie season. It was clear he was thrust into a situation he was not totally ready for. Bowey is a restricted free agent and I expect him to be brought back by the Caps.
Another deadline acquisition by Washington. Jerabek was traded to the Caps by Montreal for a 5th round pick. While he provided stability and time for Christian Djoos to regroup, Djoos played the majority of the playoffs over him. There is no reason for Jerabek to be brought back.
As I have already mentioned, I fully expect Grubauer to be dealt at or by the NHL draft. If he is not, the Caps should give him a qualifying offer and take the compensation they get for another team signing him.
This summer will not have as much roster turnover from last for Washington, but if the Caps want to go back-to-back, they will have to get this offseason right.