Capitals

Capitals

t’s time for a new Capitals Mailbag! You can read Wednesday’s Part 1 here.

Check out Part 2 below.

Have a Caps question you want answered in the next mailbag? Send it on Twitter using #CapsMailNBC or by email to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com.

Please note, some questions have been edited for clarity.

Backstrom. He may be older than Holtby at 31 compared to Holtby’s 29, but Backstrom is still at the top of his game which he showed with five goals and eight points in seven playoff games last season. He has never been an overly fast or physical player so there is reason to believe he can still be very effective for the next few years without a major dropoff due to age. Also, with the team seemingly leaning more towards improving defensively this offseason, it is hard to accomplish that if you let one of the team’s best shutdown forwards walk after next season.

After seeing Sergei Bobrovsky sign with the Florida Panthers for seven years, $10 million per year, it is probably going to take a similar number to re-sign Holtby. That’s a lot of money to commit to a player for a team that is already right up against the cap ceiling and whose top prospect is a goalie in Ilya Samsonov. You cannot keep both considering the Seattle expansion draft is looming in 2021 and teams will only be able to protect one goalie. This is a decision Brian MacLellan is going to have to make by next offseason.

This is a tough one. Backstrom’s current deal carries a cap hit of $6.7 million which has proven to be extremely team-friendly. He will be 33 at the end of this contract meaning it will almost certainly be his last big NHL deal. He may feel it is time for the team to take care of him. At the same time, I do not see Backstrom as someone who is going to hold the team’s feet to the fire. I think there is a happy medium between maxing out and being cognizant of the team’s salary cap situation and there is a number there both sides can agree to.

My best guess would be seven or eight years somewhere between $7 and 8 million per year.

Darren L. writes: After the Jakub Vrana signing, do you think the Caps will try and extend Nicklas Backstrom before the season? Or let him play out the final year of his contract?

I think it makes a lot of sense to wait and see what Holtby does this season before you make a decision on him, but I am not sure it matters with Backstrom. I expect the team is going to do everything in its power to keep him in Washington so I would not be surprised if talks happen at some point during the season to get this done.

Benjamin C. writes: Do you think Evgeny Kuznetsov becomes more consistent and reaches that superstar level we’ve seen from him? Does he reach 30 goals this season?

Jason B. writes: How important will Evgeny Kuznetsov's play be for this coming season? 

I believe this is the most important season of Kuznetsov’s career. We know what he is capable of after seeing him light up the scoresheet in the 2018 playoffs, but he never seemed to get back to that level last season after the first month.

The fact is that the Caps need more from Kuznetsov than the 72 points he had last season and he has something to prove after a down season followed by the hotel video fiasco. He should be in the 90-100 point range at the very least.

Jon H. writes: With Alex Ovechkin being named as a hockey ambassador for China recently, I just wondered why the capitals never seem to get picked for the NHL global series or games outside of the US? Is it good or bad to be picked to play regular-season games in Europe? Some of the matches I saw looked more like exhibition games despite there being points on the line.

Playing in a Global Series game certainly comes with challenges, the biggest of which I would say is the time difference. You have to adjust to it when you get there and adjust back when you return, all of which happens during the season. Yes, generally the league schedules a few days off for teams who play these games to allow some recovery time, but it can take a while for jet lag to wear off. Anyone who has ever been on a trip to Europe or Asia will know this. Sometimes you are still working back to your normal routine one or two weeks after you get back. NHL teams won’t have that long.

I have wondered why the Caps were never a target for one of these games, but if I had to guess, I think the team has a different international target in mind than any of those European destinations we typically see. The league really wants to increase its presence in China and it just so happens that is where Ovechkin is headed as an NHL ambassador from Aug. 4-9.

If the Caps do ever play overseas, China would be my guess for where they go.

Thanks for all your questions! If you have a question you want read and answered in the next mailbag, send it to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com or use #CapsMailNBC on Twitter.

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