While Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan was able to come to terms with restricted free agents Philipp Grubauer and Nate Schmidt this week, he does not appear to be any closer to locking up the biggest piece of the Caps’ free-agent puzzle – goaltender Braden Holtby.
Reached at his summer cottage on Friday, Holtby’s agent, David Kaye, was asked if there is any progress to report between the Caps and their 25-year-old netminder.
“Nothing’s changed so far,” Kaye said, declining to comment further.
Back on May 28, Kaye confirmed he had discussions with the Capitals on an extension for Holtby.
As a restricted free agent Holtby must be tendered a qualifying offer of at least $2 million [100 percent of his 2014-15 salary] by June 25 if he is not signed before then.
Ranked second among NHL starters in playoff goals-against average [1.71] and save percentage [.944], Holtby said he would prefer a long-term commitment from the Capitals.
Since he is two years away from unrestricted free agency the Caps have a little leverage, which could keep Holtby’s cap hit in the $5 million to $6 million range.
Holtby’s contract promises to be the largest handed out by the Caps this summer and will go a long way in determining how much room they will have under the NHL’s estimated $71 million salary cap.
The Caps currently sit at roughly $51 million with seven forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders [Grubauer and Justin Peters] under contract. That mans they have roughly $20 million to spend on a restricted free agent group that includes Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson, Stanislav Galiev, Chris Brown and Patrick Wey, and an unrestricted group that includes forwards Joel Ward, Jay Beagle, Eric Fehr and Curtis Glencross and defensemen Mike Green, Tim Gleason and Cam Schilling.
[Defenseman Tomas Kundradek, who played 30 games for the Caps from 2011-13, has signed a one-year deal with Dinamo Riga of the KHL.]
If Holtby, Kuznetsov and Johansson cost the Capitals about $12 million in cap space, it would leave them with an estimated $8 million [$9 million if Peters is in the minors] to sign a minimum of three forwards and one depth defenseman.
Galiev and Brown are likely to receive two-way contract offers and Wey is on the bubble.
As for possible buyouts, while NHL forwards Matt Cooke and Adam Burish have been placed on waivers with the intention of receiving buyouts from their teams, the Caps have not opted to do so. Teams have until June 30 at 5 p.m. to offer buyouts, in which a player would need to pass through waivers before accepting the buyout.
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