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Still no deal for Johansson as arbitration ruling nears

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Still no deal for Johansson as arbitration ruling nears

One day after Braden Holtby and the Capitals went to arbitration, the two sides agreed to a five-year, $30.5 million deal. Now with the deadline for the arbitrator's decision looming, Marcus Johansson still remains without a deal.

According to arbitration rules, the arbitrator must issue his decision within 48 hours of the hearing. Johansson's hearing took place Wednesday morning meaning the arbitrator should hand down his decision sometime Friday morning.

Time is running out for Johansson and the Caps to reach a deal before then and with each passing second, it seems more likely the two sides will wait to see the arbitrator's decision.

Of the 25 cases scheduled for arbitration this summer, four, including Johansson's, are still ongoing and only Alex Chiasson of the Ottawa Senators was not re-signed before the arbitrator could assign an award. The remaining 20 players reached agreements with their respective teams before that point.

RELATED: Caps sign Swiss draft pick to entry-level deal

So why has no deal been reached between Johansson and the Caps? The answer may be in Nashville.

Two Nashville players filed for arbitration this summer: Colin Wilson and Craig Smith. Wilson is 25-years-old and recorded 20 goals and 22 assists last season. Smith is also 25 and scored 23 goals and 21 assists. Johansson is 24 and scored 20 goals and 27 assists.

Those are very similar numbers, but with one big difference--while Wilson and Smith are both projected to be on Nashville's second line next season, Johansson is projected to be on the Caps' third.

The acquisitions of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams shores up the Caps' right side, Nicklas Backstrom (when healthy) and Evgeny Kuznetsov hold the middle and Alex Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky will likely play on the left. That will push Johansson down to the third line.

So while both Wilson and Smith received sizable contract extensions (four years, $15.75 million and five years, $21.25 million respectively) for similar production as that of Johansson, they are likely to have a much larger contribution for the Predators going forward based on the roster.

Whether the contracts of Wilson and Smith have entered the conversation between Johansson and the Caps is unknown, but it serves to illustrate the difficulty in Johansson's position. His production and his future role with the team do not come with the same price tag.

Rare as it may be, the only way to settle such a gap may be through an arbitrator and that seems to be where this is heading.

MORE CAPS: Star goalie gives insights into Ovi's scoring ability

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

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USA TODAY Sports

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up on the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY