The season may be over for the Capitals players, but the job continues for management who now must think about compiling a roster for the 2019-20 season. While the Caps may not have much money to work with under the salary cap this summer, you can bet Brian MacLellan and Co. are watching the conference finals closely and scouting all the pending free agents who remain in action to see if there could be any possible fits.
With that in mind, here’s a look at where the free agent “stock” of each pending unrestricted free agent in the Eastern Conference Final stands now through two games.
NOTE: This list includes only UFAs.
Noel Acciari, F
Acciari has not played since Game 4 of the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets due to an undisclosed injury. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said he anticipates Acciari will be a full participant in practice on Monday so he should be close to getting back into the lineup.
Marcus Johansson, F
The former Cap has been a massive addition for Boston and now has a three-game point streak with two goals and three assists during that stretch. What’s more is that Johansson has averaged only 13:46 of ice-time in the first two games of the series, the third lowest on the team. He is certainly making his minutes count.
Johansson’s assist on Steven Kampfer’s goal to open the scoring for the series was a brilliant backhander. It really looks like Johansson has found a second wind for his career in Boston.
Steven Kampfer, D
Kampfer is Boston’s No. 7 on defense and he has played in only two games this entire postseason. He only got into the lineup for Game 1 because of Charlie McAvoy’s one-game suspension, but in that game, he scored his first career playoff goal and the first goal of the series.
Kampfer was on the ice for Carolina’s lone 5-on-5 goal in Game 1, but he showed good wheels to recover on the play and nearly caught Greg McKegg before he could score.
Micheal Ferland, F
Ferland suited up for Game 1 against Boston for the first time since leaving Game 3 in the first round against the Caps with an injury. His return was not going to make or break the Hurricanes’ chances in the series so we should not judge him solely on the games’ results. His stock went up because even being a bottom-six player he found a way to have an impact on both games with an assist in Game 1 and a big hit in Game 2.
Curtis McElhinney, G
McElhinney has not yet made an appearance in the series, but that chance could come as early as Game 3 if head coach Rod Brind’Amour decides he needs to give his team a spark.
Greg McKegg, F
Like Ferland, McKegg is a player who seems to have an impact in every game despite his limited role. It was a surprise to see that he has averaged only 10:37 of ice-time through the first two games because it certainly felt like he was on the ice for more than that. That’s all you can really ask of a fourth-line player.
McKegg’s goal in Game 1 gave Carolina its first and thus far only lead of the series.
Petr Mrazek, G
The Easter Conference Final has not gone well thus far for Mrazek who has allowed 10 goals – including a few softies – in just two games against the Bruins. You may be surprised the stock is not down here, but let’s take a step back and look at the larger picture. Mrazek has led Carolina all the way to the conference final on a contract that pays him $1.5 million. What he was able to do in the regular season and what he has done through the playoffs was not erased by these first two games.
Mrazek is not Carey Price or Henrik Lundqvist, but we already knew that. This series has not really shown us anything we did not already know about the type of goalie Mrazek is. He is a low-end starter capable of stringing a decent streak together and who can be dependable when called upon in the playoffs. You cannot build a team around him, but he can be a solid goalie especially in an era when teams are becoming increasingly more reliant on having two solid goalies rather than one top-end starter to carry the load.
Justin Williams, F
In the first two games of the conference final, Williams has one goal, four penalty minutes including a minor for retaliating against Brad Marchand’s latest antics, and is a minus-one. Like everyone on Carolina, he could have played better, but no one is going to downgrade him all that much when it comes to his free agent status.
Williams has already shown he can still be an effective offensive player at the age of 37 and Carolina’s unexpected playoff run is a testament to his leadership. One bad penalty against Marchand is not going to change any of that.
Is Williams going to get another contract for $4.5 million a year? Probably not, but it is going to have to take a monumental breakdown by him to undo what he has accomplished this postseason and suddenly force his stock down.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- Contract Watch: After Vrana's breakout season, when can we expect a contract?
- Keeping Hagelin: Can the Caps bring him back?
- Blast from the Past: 15 players you forgot played for the Caps