Somewhere near his home of Landskrona, Sweden, Marcus Johansson heard Friday’s news of goaltender Braden Holtby signing a five-year, $30.5 million contract with the Capitals and must have wondered, “How much money is left for me?”
The answer, at least at the moment, is $4.2 million.
That’s how much room the Capitals currently have under the NHL salary cap of $71.4 million.
That number is also pretty close to the annual salary Johansson, a restricted free agent, could be rewarded in salary arbitration, which is scheduled for Wednesday in Toronto.
“As we get closer and both parties go through their arbitration process, I think you get a better feeling for the value of the player,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said on Friday when asked about Johansson. “Hopefully, we can come to an agreement before then, but again, we’re willing to go through the whole process and keep negotiating. I think (contract talks) are status quo from last time.”
It is unclear if the Capitals have offered Johansson anything more than his June 29 qualifying offer of $2.175 million. If not, it will be interesting to see what figures each side requests from an arbitrator in their briefs, which could be made publicMonday.
In Holtby’s case, the two sides were $2.9 million apart in their requests, and Derek Sepan ($7.25 million) and the Rangers ($5.2 million) are roughly $2 million apart.
For the sake of arguing, let’s say Johansson submits a request of $4.8 million and the Caps come in at $3.2 million. An arbitrator could choose a one-year award in the $4.2 million range. And that would eat up all of the Caps’ cap space.
The Caps could get under the cap by sending goaltender Justin Peters and/or Taylor Chorney or Zach Sill to AHL Hershey. …
But there is a significant difference between how the Caps value Holtby and how they value Johansson.
While the Caps were willing to slightly overpay Holtby, making him the seventh highest paid goaltender in the NHL, they will be less than willing to pay a third-line left wing – which is where Johansson is tentatively slotted behind Alex Oveckin and Andre Burakovsky – more than $4 million. (After all, they are already on the hook for $4.5 million in each of the next two season with Brooks Laich).
MacLellan said he’s hoping the threat of Wednesday’s arbitration hearing will help bring the two sides closer together.
How much closer remains to be seen.