Capitals

Quick Links

How a flat cap and Seattle will affect the future of the Capitals

How a flat cap and Seattle will affect the future of the Capitals

In case you haven't noticed, 2020 has been a weird year and it's not going to get any less weird. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan is facing an uncertain offseason unlike any he has experienced in the past. It's not just because it is going to happen in the fall and not the summer, it's about changes that will make all of the careful planning and projecting that goes into maintaining a roster go right out the window.

The major obstacle facing the Caps is a flat salary cap for next season and most likely beyond. Washington is a cap team meaning they spend close to the cap ceiling. MacLellan had to get creative at times over the season to keep the team under the cap. Now, because of lost revenue, the NHL will have a flat cap for next season meaning it will remain the same and not receive the projected increase. That's a huge issue for a team like Washington which needed all the cap relief it could get.

"It's difficult," MacLellan said Friday. "We've been a cap team. We did our projections last season and it was going to be anywhere from $83 to $88 million and it comes in at $81.5. Even last season when it came in a little under what we projected it to be, you have to make some difficult decisions based on that."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

Players like Braden Holtby, Brenden Dillon and Jonas Siegenthaler are all on the final year of their contracts and will be looking for raises. Considering the team just barely had enough cap space this year, there's no extra money to give raises to three free agents. Washington also has a number of veterans on long-term contracts. Long term contracts are beneficial because, as time goes on and the cap steadily grows, the percentage of a player's cap hit decreases. With a flat cap, that obviously won't happen.

MacLellan also has to keep an eye on the future as Alex Ovechkin, Jakub Vrana and Ilya Samsonov are also entering the final year of their contracts in the 2020-21 season. It is very likely that the cap will remain flat beyond the next season so the team can't max out this year without keeping enough money open for a new deal for those three players.

As if that wasn't enough, the 2021 expansion draft also looms large.

The Seattle Kraken will enter the league in the 2021-22 season and the expansion draft will be held at the end of next season. Every team is going to lose one player to Seattle. Any player that MacLellan may want to sign or re-sign is another player he has to think about whether to protect in the draft or leave exposed and possibly lose.

"We’re going to lose a player," MacLellan said. "There’s no way around it. You can only protect so many players and defensemen, you can only protect three. Any indication [from] the last time's expansion draft, there were a lot of defensemen chosen. So I think it affects your decision-making process, but you've got to do what’s best for your team -- that you feel, or we feel, that's best for our team."

Every team will be able to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. MacLellan specifically referenced the defensemen because the team will have a lot of good players on the blue line that they will not be able to protect.

Should the team re-sign Dillon -- and there seems to be mutual interest between the player and the team -- then Dillon, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Michal Kempny and Nick Jensen will all still be under contract by the time of the expansion draft. You can add Siegenthaler to that list as well as he is an RFA and almost certainly will be re-signed. Plus, if the team wants to pick up a right-shot defenseman for the second pair in the offseason, that's another body, far more than the team can protect.

"It's a hard thing to manage," MacLellan said, "But we'll do the best we can."

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Alan May predicts Capitals beat Islanders in 7, but John Carlson has to play

Alan May predicts Capitals beat Islanders in 7, but John Carlson has to play

The Capitals won't have an easy time once their first-round playoff series begins Wednesday against a physical, stout defensive team in the Islanders. 

After quickly disposing of the Panthers in two games to earn themselves a playoff spot, New York and former Capitals coach Barry Trotz will look to rough Washington up a bit to advance to the next stage. 

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May isn't taking the Islanders lightly, and in an appearance on the Sports Junkies, he gave his series prediction with an important caveat: the health of John Carlson. 

"I don't think they can get past the Islanders if there's no John Carlson in the lineup," May said. "He's [the Capitals] most important player as far all the skaters are concerned right now. If he doesn't play, everyone else has to play more and I don't think everyone else can necessarily handle playing more. I love the way [Orlov] plays, but if he plays too much he can get fatigued."

Carlson suffered an injury in the Capitals' only exhibition game against the Hurricanes and didn't appear in any of Washington's round-robin contests. In Carlson, the Caps were missing the league's leader in points for defensemen as well as one of their best skaters to anchor the defense in front of Braden Holtby. 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

His importance to the team's success can't be understated, which is why May believes the fate of the series may rest in his availability. 

"If the Caps have Carlson, they'll win the series," he said. "But if they play a soft brand of hockey it'll be a quick exit out of these playoffs. If they play rough and rugged, I like the Caps in about seven games."

If Carlson's healthy, he'll certainly help this team get to that "rough and rugged" style May wants to see out of them. 

RELATED: CARLSON 'MAKING STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION' IN RECOVERY

Especially against the Islanders, perhaps the best way to beat them is to play their style and not allow New York to control the flow of the game with their physicality. If the Caps are forced to lean heavily on their offense and can't penetrate the Islanders' defense, which tends to force teams to play on the perimeter more often, they'll be vulnerable. 

But if they can match New York's physicality and shut down any chances they may create, the Caps' talent on offense should find a way to power them through to the next round. Either way, May might be on to something in predicting a long series. 

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to join NHL Network as guest analyst for the playoffs

Former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to join NHL Network as guest analyst for the playoffs

Former Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau will join the NHL Network as a guest analyst for the remainder of the 2020 postseason, the NHL announced on Tuesday. The man affectionately known as "Gabby" will make his debut on Tuesday on NHL Tonight at 5:30 p.m.

Boudreau was the head coach in Washington from 2007 until 2011. He was promoted from the team's AHL affiliate Hershey Bears where he had led the team to a Calder Cup championship in 2006. Boudreau won the Jack Adams Award as the coach of the year in his first season with the Caps in 2008.

While postseason success has remained elusive at the NHL level, Boudreau is still a highly respected coach who made the most of his opportunity with the Caps and went on to coach the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild and has an impressive record of 567-302-115. His teams have finished first in the division in eight of his 13 seasons as a head coach.

As good as he is as a coach, however, he is an even better talker. Always great on TV and as an analyst, bringing him on the broadcast is a slam dunk for the NHL Network.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: