After a presidential trophy winning season, the Cap’s failed to secure a playoff series victory against the Penguins yet again. This marked the departure of rental player stud, Kevin Shattenkirk as well as Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Daniel Winnick. Unfortunately for the Caps, those players carried a heavy workload during the regular season and playoffs. Combined they produced for the Capitals 68 goals and 175 points in the regular season.
With core players such as Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie signing new contracts (both signed long-term eight-year deals worth $62.4 million and $46 million, respectively, the budget for the future squad could be in jeopardy.
Washington must monitor their long term assets as well as their short term assets in order to put a top tier team on the ice, around Ovechkin, Backstrom and Holtby.
The next off-season of 2018-19, could be as catastrophic for the Capitals depth options in scoring. The Capitals are currently sitting at 70 million dollars, locked in with about 5 million dollars to spare. They have several RFA’s that are due for a raise as well. Tom Wilson’s current cap hit is at $2,000,000. Expect him to double his salary at 4 million per year on a long term contract. If he continues his development this will be a team friendly deal in the long term. But in the short term, he deserves $4,000,000 per season.
Next we must focus on the diminishing D core. Karl Alzner was an integral blue liner, that did much on puck moving and defensive play. Shattenkirk was also a key offensive piece on the blue line that complimented the Capitals depth scoring options. Both have chosen Eastern Conference teams, particularly Shattenkirk who joined fellow Met contender, New York Rangers.
So who does that leave in terms of contracts?
John Carlson is their #1 Defenseman and is a right handed shot. And he will be a UFA at the end of this season. Most GM’s agree that a successful franchise is built from the back end out, meaning they need Carlson in Washington. He is a young, talented and well rounded defenseman who will continue to improve at the NHL level.
Matt Niskanen, while he is a RD is not a long term #1 option for the Caps. Orlov is also making over 5 million per season, but is not a true #1 D man.
This means that Carlson will likely double his cap hit with likelihood that he earns closer to 7 million per year. Figure out how to put that in the budget.
Lars Eller is also a free agent, currently holding a Cap hit of 3.5. He likely will earn a larger contract elsewhere, and unless he is willing to retain a huge discount for the Cap’s I could see him being moved at the deadline as a rental player. He’s versatile and doesn’t carry a huge cap hit, so I would be surprised if he isn’t involved in a few trade rumours.
Grubauer is another factor for the Caps that is a necessary expense. He currently earns 1.5 million per year and is also due for a raise.
At 25 years old the German goaltender has already stood out among back up goaltenders in the league, warranting a genuine opportunity on the free agent market. He could be a starter in many rebuilding teams. He will need to earn a sizable salary in the league, as his value is extremely high. Expect Grubauer to receive over 2.5 million for his services in the crease, based off of both his performance and competitive external offers.
The Washington goaltender has 66 career regular season games under his belt and has a .923 save percentage. While he does have the reigning president’s trophy winners playing in front of him, Grubauer deserves an opportunity to succeed as a starter. While it is unlikely that will be in Washington he definitely has earned his keep in the Capital. Grubauer, 25, played in 24 games this season finishing with a 13-6-2 record, 2.04 GAA and .926 save percentage.