It’s time for a new Capitals mailbag! Check out Part 1 below.
Have a Caps question you want answered in the next mailbag? You can submit your questions here at the Capitals Mailbag submissions page on NBCSportsWashington.com.
Please note, some questions have been edited for clarity.
Joe Collins writes: I know it may be a bit too early for this question, but has there been any discussion on any possible compensation for teams that traded draft picks for players who were on expiring contracts in the event the season gets canceled? If the season were to not be completed the Caps would've traded a 2nd and 3rd rounder for 10 games with Brenden Dillon and another 3rd rounder for seven games with Ilya Kovalchuk. I am sure many other teams are in similar, if not worse, positions. Any thoughts on how these teams should/may be compensated?
It does seem early to talk about this as the season has not been canceled and it is only April 1, but I'll play along.
This will be an unpopular opinion, but I don't think any team that made trades for rentals without conditions should be entitled to any compensation. I understand that these are extenuating circumstances, but the Caps would not have been entitled to any compensation had the season gone on as normal and they missed the playoffs so why should they be entitled to anything now? Or how about if they got injured and they weren't able to play? Teams would not be entitled to anything in that situation either. The fact that you might not have them for very long is the risk you run with rental players. When teams trade for players on expiring contracts, they are hopeful they will get a long postseason run out of them, but you do it with the understanding that you could potentially only get those players for a handful of games.
To me, a much bigger issue will be what to do with trades that had conditions attached, like when draft picks are tied into how far a team goes into the postseason. When you have agreed on conditions based on the traditional season and postseason format and that changes, those are circumstances which I do feel a team would be entitled to some form of compensation. I don't know exactly what that would look like as I don't know how the season will be formatted when it returns, but compensatory draft picks would make the most sense to me. That way a team that promised to give away a draft pick doesn't have to based on whatever the postseason looks like and teams still get to recoup picks. Sure, that may mean more draft picks in, let's face it, what is already a heavily diluted draft, but the coronavirus has affected how teams scout the end of the season, taking away scouting trips and with minor junior and college leagues canceling their postseason. Add some compensatory picks so teams can take a shot at players they may not have scouted as much as they would like.
Jack Ryan writes: If the season doesn’t get canceled, wouldn’t all UFA’s be available to sign come July 1?
That is among the many logistical issues with a delayed season, but the league is aware of it. In a conference call Monday, Brian MacLellan said the league had discussed player contracts being extended to August this year if the league returns and plays into the summer. The NHLPA would have to approve that, but considering the revenue at stake, there is no reason why it wouldn't.
The league has a lot of very good lawyers to worry about these kinds of things. There is no scenario where a plan is in place, the league starts up and then oops! No one figured out that player contracts expire before the playoffs are supposed to end. What a pickle! I am sure there are minor things that may slip through the cracks, but something as significant as player contracts will be sorted out before the puck drops again.
Bill Bridge writes: Assuming the cap stays where it is and Braden Holtby is gone, the Caps would be in good shape. They'd have enough room to field basically the same group of forwards minus Kovalchuk, sign a vet goalie to back up Ilya Samsonov and even re-sign Brenden Dillon to a $3.5-$4 million contract if they wanted to go that route. Thoughts?
Not including restricted free agents, the Caps have 11 forwards, four defensemen and one goalie under contract for next season. If the salary cap stays the same -- which would be my guess, I can't see it going up at this point and I don't think either the NHL or NHLPA wants it to go down -- Washington would have about $10.4 million to work with to sign a high-end backup/tandem goalie to go with Samsonov, sign a third-line winger (because Richard Panik certainly looks like a fourth-line player at this point), give Jonas Siegenthaler a raise and sign one or two additional defensemen (only one if Martin Fehervary is ready to step in). Even with Holtby off the books, things are going to get tight very quickly.
I think Brian MacLellan has done a masterful job with this roster and he has been as good a general manager as anyone during his tenure, but the fact he has given out a lot of long-term deals for veterans with the thought that those cap hits would look better with each passing year with the cap continuing to steadily rise. When the cap stays in place, that has major ramifications not just for next year but for how this team has projected its cap out over the next few years. That is hugely important considering Alex Ovechkin and Jakub Vrana's current contracts expire at the end of the 2020-21 season.
I think it makes sense to try to re-sign Dillon if they can, but I think he could probably get more on the open market and signing him is not just about getting his contract to fit in next year, it's about getting it to fit beyond next season with Ovechkin and Vrana re-signed. Ovechkin's cap hit will probably be about the same, but Vrana has clearly earned himself a gigantic raise.
Thanks for all your questions! Part 2 of the mailbag will be coming on Thursday. If you have a question you want to be answered in the next mailbag, you can submit it here at the Capitals Mailbag submissions page on NBCSportsWashington.com.
Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS: