While most of the hockey world’s attention will be on Thursday’s arbitration hearing in Toronto between the Capitals and goaltender Braden Holtby, Caps left wing Marcus Johansson is not stressing much over his own arbitration hearing scheduled for July 29 in Toronto.
Johansson is believed to be seeking more than $4 million a season, while the Capitals probably would like to keep his salary at or below $3.5 million.
“I’m not worried about that. I think I will continue to play (in Washington). My focus right now is on training hard and getting myself prepared, for I know I will be playing.”
Like Holtby, Johansson, 24, is a restricted free agent who elected for salary arbitration on July 5. He posted career highs in goals (20), assists (27) and points (47) last season. The Caps made him a qualifying offer believed to be equal to his 2014-15 salary of $2.175 million on June 26, and there were discussions of a two- or three-year bridge contract that would take Johansson to unrestricted free agency.
Johansson’s agent, Marc Levine, told CSNwashington.com in an email last week that there was “nothing to comment on at this point other than we are preparing for the arbitration hearing on July 29.”
Johansson has played through two contracts with the Capitals and is due to become an unrestricted free agent in two years, at the age of 26, because he will have played in seven NHL seasons.
His entry level contract paid him $900,000 in each of his first three NHL seasons. He followed with a two-year deal that paid him $1.85 million in 2013-14 and $2.175 million last season.
If Holtby is awarded somewhere in the $6.5 million range, the Caps would have less than $4 million in cap space to accommodate Johansson. If an arbitrator awards a player $3.8 million or more, an NHL team has the right to walk away from that player, something the Caps would be hesitant to do with Johansson considering they could retain his rights for two more years.
If the awards for Holtby and Johansson push them over the NHL’s $71.4 million salary cap – they are currently at $61.1 million, according to www.generalfanager.com - the Caps have until the NHL season opener on Oct. 7 to get under the cap.