When George McPhee was asked last week about how tempting it was to enter July 1 with 20.8 million in cap space, he raised a cautionary flag.
Its expensive to use it now, the Caps GM said. If you do something, its always more than the guys worth. The question is how much more, and are you trying to trade him by November because he cost too much?
McPhee is apparently taking his own advice.
Through the first 24 hours of free agency the Capitals had spent just 950,000 on a one-year contract for checking-line winger Joey Crabb.
But that does not necessarily mean McPhee is finished tinkering with his roster, which is in need of a top-six winger and a No. 4 or No. 5 defenseman.
In fact, the Capitals could be quietly involved in trade talks for Anaheims Bobby Ryan or Columbus Rick Nash.
Prior to the June 22 NHL draft, Ryan told the Camden Courier-Post that he wants to be traded and would prefer to play for the Flyers, if possible. The Flyers reportedly have been involved in trade talks involving Ryan and Nash and have made offers to both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Considering the asking price for Parise, the Caps might be better off acquiring a player under contract. Ryan, 25, has averaged 33 goals a season his past four seasons and has three years remaining on five-year, 25.25 million contract that carries an annual 5.1 million cap hit.
Nash, 28, has averaged 34 goals in his last eight NHL seasons and has six years remaining on a contract that carries a 7.8 million cap hit.
When you compare the two salaries, Ryan is a much better financial fit. But what would it take to get him? The Ducks are seeking a second-line center in return for Ryan. Would a package that includes center Marcus Johansson, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and the rights to Evgeni Kuznetsov get it done?
Or will the Ducks demand a package that promises more immediate help?
Failing a trade, the Caps could invest in a proven veteran such as Shane Doan or Jiri Hudler, or they can try to strengthen their blue line by signing Matt Carle or Bryce Salvador.
The free agent clock keeps ticking .