With free-agent hunting season just one week away, it’s looking more and more like Joel Ward and Mike Green will be heading to other NHL teams while Jay Beagle and Eric Fehr may be staying put.
Earlier today, Ward’s agent, Peter Cooney, told CSN’s Jill Sorenson that Ward is seeking a contract of at least four years. At 34 years old, the Capitals likely would prefer a two-year deal for Ward, with the possibility of stretching it to three.
Ward, who is at the end of a four-year, $12 million contract with the Caps, likely is seeking a similar dollar value on his next contract. But if he’s seeking four years, it’s doubtful it will come in Washington.
Ward finished tied with Alex Ovechkin for the team lead in playoff points with nine, and has scored 43 goals in his past two seasons with the Capitals.
But with restricted free agents Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson due big raises next season, the Capitals may let Ward test the waters of free agency on July 1. If, by the end of July 1, no other NHL teams are willing to meet Ward’s contract demands, he may allow the Capitals back into the mix.
Green, 29, is at the end of a three-year, $18.25 million contract that carried an estimated $6.1 million cap hit and he is expected to earn at least that term and value in his next contract.
Green’s agent, Craig Oster [who also represents Fehr], did not return messages left for him on Wednesday, but if talks with the Capitals have not met Green’s expectations he could begin courting other NHL teams as early as Thursday, the first day NHL teams may speak with pending UFAs they may be interested in signing when the bell rings on July 1.
During his exit interview with reporters, Green said he would like to remain in Washington but also noted the need for him to play a “significant role,” adding “I feel like I can play top-two [pairing] for sure.”
If Green returns he’ll be slotted as the Caps’ fifth defenseman behind John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner. And for more than $6 million, the Caps are not likely to allow that to happen.
Some believe Green, who has spent his entire 10-year career with the Capitals, could be heading to the Edmonton Oilers, who are expected to take Connor McDavid with the first pick of Friday night’s draft and could be a powerhouse in the coming years.
As for Beagle and Fehr, MacLellan told Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman that he is “trying to close” deals for both veteran centers.
Fehr, 29, is coming off his most productive season in five years with 19 goals and 33 points. He is coming off a two-year, $3 million contract and is likely seeking a longer term with higher value, possibly a three-year deal in the $8 million range.
Beagle, also 29, is coming off a career year in which he recorded a career-high 10 goals and 20 points in just 62 games.
His last contract was a three-year deal worth $2.7 million and he’s likely seeking another three years in the neighborhood of $5 million.
Beagle’s agent, Wade Arnott, did not return a message left for him on Wednesday.