With the NHL’s free agent frenzy just two days away – contract signings can begin at noon on Friday – Jason Chimera’s future with the Capitals is in serious jeopardy.
“I wish I had more to report,” Chimera said in a text message on Wednesday. “Nothing yet.”
Barring a late contract offer from the Capitals, Chimera, 37, will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on Friday.
The veteran left wing matched his career high with 20 goals last season, his seventh with the Capitals. But with the Capitals uncertain how much cap space they’ll have after signing restricted free agents Marcus Johansson, Tom Wilson and Dmitry Orlov, Chimera almost certainly will enter the free agent market and sign with another NHL team.
Or will he?
Among teams reportedly interested in Chimera are his hometown Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.
After trading for center Lars Eller and his $3.5 million cap hit, the Caps now have roughly $11 million in cap space.
Johansson, who last year received a $3.75 million arbitration award, likely will carry a cap hit in the $4.25 million range.
If that’s the case, and if Tom Wilson’s cap hit comes in around $1.5 million and Dmitry Orlov is in the $2.5 million range, that would leave the Caps roughly $2.5 million in cap space.
Chimera, who made $2 million last season, could squeeze under the cap if he takes a deal with a similar value. In many respects he could provide the Caps exactly what they’re looking for in a third-line left wing – a lot of speed and the ability to score goals.
If the Caps do not re-sign Chimera, they would have a hole at third-line left wing that looks like this:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Andre Burakovsky
?????? – Lars Eller – Justin Williams
Daniel Winnik – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
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