The Capitals issued qualifying offers to restricted free agents Marcus Johansson, Dmitry Orlov and Tom Wilson on Monday. The news was first reported by Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post.
By giving qualifying offers, the Caps have retained the negotiating rights for each player. As free agents, those players could still sign with other teams, but those teams would have to give an offer sheet for that player. The Caps could then match the offer or allow the player to leave in exchange for compensatory draft picks. This rarely happens as the practice is generally frowned upon by most general managers.
Johansson now finds himself in the same position he was last season. A restricted free agent in 2015, negotiations with the Swedish forward went all the way to arbitration where Johansson was awarded a one-year deal worth $3.75 million. The two sides may find themselves there again with the team trying to negotiate a crowded roster with championship expectations.
One year after setting a career high in goals (20) and points (47), Johansson put together another solid season with 46 points and could command a deal anywhere around $3.5 to $4.5 million per year.
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Despite a year full of ups and downs for Wilson and Orlov, both players still figure largely in the Caps' plans going forward. Following the season, general manager Brian MacLellan hinted that both players would see increased roles next season. MacLellan has also talked about his hope of turning Wilson into a Joel Ward type of player, a forward with increased net presence capable of putting up critical points as well as frustrating opponents. The former first-round draft pick managed only seven goals and 16 assists in 2015-16. As for Orlov, his offensive upside and puck-handling capabilities may land him on the team's top four on defense in place of an aging Brooks Orpik.
Forward Michael Latta was also an unrestricted free agent, but he did not receive a qualifying offer from the team and now appears to be headed for unrestricted free agency. The 25-year-old appeared in only 43 games in the regular season and none in the playoffs. With the Caps up against the salary cap, Latta appeared to be a likely cap casualty as the team tries to make room for Johansson's extension. The trade for Lars Eller, who carries a cap hit of $3.5 million, likely sealed the deal.
Thank you Washington, love the city, love the fans. Looking forward to earning an opportunity somewhere else.— Michael Latta (@Latta17) June 27, 2016
Perhaps the worst part of Latta's departure will be the split of Latta and Wilson, also known as the "BroBeans" as dubbed by Andre Burakovsky.
Going to be sad not having you around next year brother. It was an amazing few years and you'll always be a great friend @Latta17— Tom Wilson (@tom_wilso) June 27, 2016
In addition to Latta, defenseman Ryan Stanton and center Caleb Herbert will also become unrestricted free agents after not receiving qualyfing offers. Stanton played in one game this season with the Caps. Herbert has yet to appear in an NHL game.
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