For the past several weeks, whenever he was asked about issuing qualifying offers to his four restricted free agents, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan always said he would.
He followed through with those three quarters of those intentions on Monday night by qualifying forwards Marcus Johansson ($3.75 million) and Tom Wilson ($874,125) and defenseman Dmitry Orlov ($2.25 million), but declined to retain the rights of center Michael Latta, who required a minimum qualifying offer of $632,500.
Johansson and Orlov each have arbitration rights because they’ve been in the NHL for more than four seasons. Wilson, who has been in the league three seasons, does not.
The Caps’ decision not to qualify Latta, 25, should not come as a surprise to Capitals fans after a season in which Latta clearly became the odd-man out, especially after the midseason signing of free agent Mike Richards.
Aside from AHL callups Chris Brown and Chandler Stephenson, no one on the Capitals roster averaged less ice time than Latta’s 8:05. Latta dressed in just two of the Caps’ final 24 games of the regular season and was a healthy scratch in all 12 playoff games. He finished the season with three goals, four assists and 50 penalty minutes in 43 games and finished his three-year career with the Capitals with four goals and 13 assists in 113 games.
Latta, 25, expressed his gratitude to the Capitals and their fans in a tweet, saying, “Thank you Washington, love the city, love the fans. Looking forward to earning an opportunity somewhere else.”
Latta will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is hoping another NHL team signs him.
“We’ll see,” Latta said when asked about his future in Washington following the Caps’ playoff exit. “We’ll figure it out. I’ll talk to Trotzy (Barry Trotz) and Mac (Brian MacLellan) and kind of see what their plans are for me. I’m not really sure what they’re thinking. We’ll take it a day at a time and go from there.
“It is what it is. We’ll see. I came to practice every day and showed up and worked hard and tried to be a good pro and not bring the team down. I tried to be a pro that way and hopefully it pays off with a new contract.”
After the season, MacLellan acknowledged that Latta had become a spare part that was rarely used in the second half.
“He’s got to be frustrated,” MacLellan said. “I think he’s a great teammate. Guys love having him around, coaches like him. I think the key for him is he’s got to bring something besides energy in that fourth-line role. He’s got to kill penalties, there’s got to be another dimension to his game for him to be successful in the league.”
With Latta and his pugnacious playing style no longer on the Capitals' roster it will be interesting to see if the team tries to replace his grit by signing a hard-hitting fourth-line winger like Islanders forward Matt Martin, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Here is a list of teams that reported their lists of qualifying offers
Anaheim Ducks (3): F Stefan Noesen, F Rickard Rakell, D Hampus Lindholm
Arizona Coyotes (5): F Stefan Fournier, F Tyler Gaudet, F Tobias Rieder, D Connor Murphy, D Michael Stone
Boston Bruins (6): F Brian Ferlin, F Alexander Khokhlachev, D Chris Casto, D Torey Krug, D Colin Miller, D Joe Morrow
Buffalo Sabres (7): F Daniel Catenacci, F Marcus Foligno, F Zemgus Girgensons, D Jake McCabe, DCasey Nelson, D Rasmus Ristolainen, G Jason Kasdorf
Calgary Flames (4): F Johnny Gaudreau, F Freddie Hamilton, F Sean Monahan, D Tyler Wotherspoon
Carolina Hurricanes (7): F Patrick Brown, F Victor Rask, F Brody Sutter, F Brendan Woods, D Keegan Lowe, D Ryan Murphy, D Dennis Robertson
Colorado Avalanche (5): F Mikhail Grigorenko, F Nathan MacKinnon, D Tyson Barrie, D Duncan Siemens, G Calvin Pickard
Columbus Blue Jackets (4): F Alex Broadhurst, F T.J. Tynan, D Scott Harrington, D Seth Jones
Dallas Stars (4): F Valeri Nichushkin, F Matej Stransky, D Jamie Oleksiak, G Maxime Lagace
Edmonton Oilers (1): David Musil
New Jersey Devils (5): F Reid Boucher, F Jacob Josefson, F Sergey Kalinin, F Kyle Palmieri, D Reece Scarlett
New York Rangers (6): F Chris Kreider, F Kevin Hayes, F J.T. Miller, F Nicklas Jensen, F Marek Hvirik, D Dylan McIlrath
Ottawa Senators (7): F Casey Bailey, F Ryan Dzingel, F Mike Hoffman, F Max McCormick, F Matt Puempel, D Cody Ceci, D Fredrik Claesson
Philadelphia Flyers (5): F Nick Cousins, F Jordan Weal, F Brayden Schenn, F Petr Straka D Brandon Manning
Montreal Canadiens (3): F Daniel Carr, F Phillip Danault, F Andrew Shaw
Nashville Predators (4): F Calle Jarnkrok, D Taylor Aronson, D Stefan Elliott, D Petter Granberg
Pittsburgh Penguins (1): F Dom Uher
San Jose Sharks (4): F Ryan Carpenter, F Tomas Hertl, F Matt Nieto, D Dylan DeMelo
St. Louis Blues (8): F Jacob Doty, F Magnus Paajarvi, F Ty Rattie, F Jaden Schwartz, D Jordan Caron, G Jordan Binnington, G Pheonix Copley, G Anders Nilsson
Tampa Bay Lighting (7): F Yanni Gourde, F Alex Killorn, F Nikita Kucherov, F Vladislav Namestnikov, F Tye McGinn, D Nikita Nesterov, G Kristers Gudlevskis
Washington Capitals (3): F Marcus Johansson, F Tom Wilson, D Dmitry Orlov
Winnipeg Jets (8): F Joel Armia, F JC Lipon, F Adam Lowry, F Mark Scheifele, F Brandon Tanev, D Brenden Kichton, D Julian Melchiori, D Jacob Trouba