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NHL salary cap rises to $75 million, will that be enough for Caps to keep Oshie?

NHL salary cap rises to $75 million, will that be enough for Caps to keep Oshie?

The NHL's salary cap will increase by $2 million next season to $75 million with a floor of $55.4 million, the NHL and NHLPA announced Sunday.

The Players' Association has the option each season of increasing the cap with a 5-percent escalator clause. If they use it, however, it means a higher escrow payment from the players to the league. Had the NHLPA used its full escalator clause, it would have raised the cap to over $77 million. They instead elected to use a smaller percentage, thus the smaller increase to only $75 million.

An increase is good news for the cash-strapped Capitals who need all the money they can get to re-sign their restricted free agents. The biggest question on fans' minds, however, will be whether it is enough of an increase for the team to re-sign forward T.J. Oshie.

RELATED: Which players did the Caps leave unprotected?

Oshie was tied for the team lead in goals last season with 33. As an unrestricted free agent, he is expected to be one of the most highly sought after forwards this summer which means he will command a significant raise, somewhere in the range of $6 to 7 million per year. For a Washington team that still needs to re-sign restricted free agents Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Dmitry Orlov, that just may be too much money.

Had the salary cap increased to $77 million, there was a realistic chance the team could have re-signed Oshie. At $75 million, that may not be enough.

Plus, time is not on Washington's side. Kuznetsov is expected to get a sizable contract and how high his cap hit is will likely determine what moves the Caps' can make. That means that once the expansion draft is over, general manager Brian MacLellan will need to re-sign Kuznetsov and then re-sign Oshie all before July 1 when free agency opens. And that's only if they have enough money to re-sign their other RFAs, which they may not anyway.

The reality the Caps find themselves in is that their young free agents are their top priority. That means they just may not have enough money left for a 30-year-old winger even with the $2 million salary cap increase.

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin meets soccer great Pele

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Caps work on team building by fighting each other in FBI training

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@Capitals Twitter

Caps work on team building by fighting each other in FBI training

How much better would your work environment be if you had a chance to pin a coworker or get them in a chokehold? Probably a lot. That's what the Caps are banking on.

The team visited the FBI Academy on Wednesday in a team building exercise that included raming doors and, of course, hand to hand combat.

Let's break down some of these wrestling matchups.

Braden Holtby appears to be thanking John Carlson for playing 27:33 on Tuesday.

It seems dangerous to pit a goalie against a defenseman. Carlson spends all of his time on the ice trying to protect Holtby. Just how hard was Carlson really trying to take down Holtby?

It's no surprise seeing Tom Wilson enjoying himself with the hand to hand combat. Whoever went up against him (it looks like Jay Beagle) certainly drew the short straw.

And then there's this.

Nicklas Backstrom is having way, way too much fun. Maybe Andre Burakovsky was getting a bit chesty in the locker room after his first NHL fight. Well, it seems Backstrom certainly put him in his place.

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There are no moral victories, but Caps see a defensive effort they can build on in Tuesday's loss

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USA TODAY Sports

There are no moral victories, but Caps see a defensive effort they can build on in Tuesday's loss

The Capitals probably deserved a better result on Tuesday than a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Coming into that game, the Leafs were averaging 5.20 goals per game and had scored no fewer than three in any of their five games to start the season. Yet, a Capitals team fresh off an 8-2 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers managed to hold Toronto’s offense to only one goal, the second coming only after Braden Holtby had been pulled for the extra attacker.

“There's a lot of improvements from our game in Philadelphia, that's for sure,” Barry Trotz said following the game.

Aside from a flurry of chances from Toronto early in the first, the game was largely even between the two sides until Connor Brown put the Leafs up 1-0 in the third period.

RELATED: EVGENY KUZNETSOV COULD HAVE CHANGED TUESDAY'S GAME, HERE'S HOW

Despite their effort, however, do not take this game as proof that Washington has solved all of its blue line issues. Tuesday was just merely a step in the right direction.

“We did some things better [Tuesday],” Braden Holtby said. “The outcome could have been a little worse if luck wasn't on our side today on a few plays. We've got to keep a realistic mindset on that too.  But we did a lot of good things [Tuesday]. Our defense did a really good job at handling their speed and their size.”

Surprisingly, it was not the defense that cost Washington the game, but the offense. When the Caps needed a goal, they simply could not generate one against goalie Frederik Andersen.

Yes, the team needs to find more of a balance and get a full 60-minute effort on both ends of the ice, but there was also hope in the locker room on Tuesday that if they continue to improve in their own zone, it will ultimately lead to more offense in the other end.

“Everything is developed from the defensive zone,” Holtby said. “That's the way we've always had success scoring goals. If you're taking risks offensively, that's not a consistent way to play. You might win some games, but you're not going to win games consistently. That's what our foundation of our team is built around, our breakout, especially on our goal line and that what creates a lot of our offense.”

MORE CAPITALS: WHO STOOD OUT IN TUESDAY'S DEFENSIVE BATTLE?

What the first seven games of the season has shown is that the Capitals’ fate rests on its blue line. Yes, they need more depth scoring from their third and fourth line, but this team’s weakness is its defense. How they respond to their early struggles will determine the fate of the season.

“We'd be kidding ourselves if we're not going to have some growing pains along the way,” Holtby said of the team. “It's just how we handle them and what we do with them. How do we fight through them and get better?”

Tuesday’s game may have ended in a loss, but it was an effort the defense can build around. That is the silver lining. If they do build on this game, the Capitals still have a playoff caliber roster. If they do not, well, there is no telling how far Washington can sink.