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How should the Caps spend their money?


How should the Caps spend their money?

Its difficult to say how Thursdays announcement that the NHL is raising its salary cap from to 64.3 million to 70.2 million will impact Sundays start of free agency.

With the current CBA set to expire on Sept. 15 there is a very real chance that salary cap number will be renegotiated during labor talks.

But even if it its a loose figure, the additional 6 million in cap space will undoubtedly give teams the freedom to sign players they might otherwise avoid.

The Capitals, for example, will arrive at Sundays free agent frenzy with 20.8 million in cap space, assuming they let Alexander Semin walk. Thats significant coin for a team that spent all of last season at the salary ceiling.

On Wednesday, Caps GM George McPhee dropped this interesting nugget when explaining his decision to trade defenseman Dennis Wideman instead of paying him the 26.25 million the Calgary Flames gave him over five years.

To have the cap space to do the right things, we werent going to be able to sign him, McPhee said.

So that means, at least in theory, the Caps have money targeted for someone else in free agency, right?

Not necessarily, says McPhee, noting the addition of second-line center Mike Ribeiro and the progression of rookie defenseman Dmitry Orlov as two significant pieces to the 2012-12 puzzle.

I think were in pretty good shape, McPhee said. We have good young goalies, the dee is complete, we added a skill guy. Well get into free agency like everybody else does, but if we dont do anything I wouldnt be disappointed. And if theres something there that makes sense at the right price, then well do it.

Well, NHL free agency is anything but The Price Is Right. Its more like The Price Is Over-Inflated But Were Willing To Pay It Because The Market Says We Must.

Truth is, Devils left wing Zach Parise, the top forward on the market, is going to command at least 8 million a season. And the Predators Ryan Suter, the top defenseman, will get similar money in a long-term deal.

Could the hiring of former Devils assistant Adam Oates help sway Parise away from front-runners Minnesota and Pittsburgh and convince him to sign with the Capitals?

Unfortunately, Im not allowed to talk about that, Oates said, because hes still employed with the team. So I better not.

Even McPhee admitted that having more than 20 million in cap space a few days before the free agent signing period is pretty tempting.

But it doesnt mean you have to use it all now, he says. You can use it during the season or at the 2013 trade deadline.

Its expensive to use it now. 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.

If the Capitals believe Parise and Suter are too expensive for their taste, how about the next level of free agents?

Goal-scoring forwards like Shane Doan, P.A. Parenteau, Dustin Penner, Ray Whitney and Lee Stempniak would be perfect complementary wingers to centers like Nicklas Backstrom and Ribeiro.

And on the back end, solid defensemen such as Matt Carle, Jason Garrison, Michal Roszival, Bryan Allen and Bryce Salvadore will be available to fill the Capitals need for a No. 4 defenseman who can bump Roman Hamrlik down to a better-suited No. 5 role.

Which way will McPhee and the Capitals go? How much of that 20 million will they spend? Do you believe they will make a run for Parise or Suter? Or should they go the less expensive route? Join the conversation below.

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2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL


2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL

The Caps made seven selections in the 2018 Draft this weekend. The group featured three defensemen, three forwards and a goalie. Interestingly, a couple of the picks have fathers who enjoyed lengthy NHL careers.

Meet the newest prospects:

1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds

The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.

Read more on him here.

2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds

A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.

2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds

Kody Clark boasts an NHL pedigree as the son of Wendel Clark, a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs who recorded 330 goals and 564 career points in 763 NHL games.

3rd round, 93rd overall: F Riley Sutter, WHL, 6'3", 203 pounds

Riley Sutter also boasts a strong NHL pedigree as the son of Run Sutter and nephew of Darryl Sutter.

Riley is a power forward who played alongside Caps prospect Garrett Pilon on the Everett Silvertips in the WHL and recorded 53 points in 68 games last season.

4th round, 124th overall: G Mitchell Gibson, NAHL, 6'1", 187 pounds

A Harvard commit, Gibson posted a 1.59 GAA and .935 save percentage in the NAHL last season.

6th round, 161st overall (from Vancouver): D Alex Kannok-Leipert, WHL, 5'11", 194 pounds

The Caps certainly saw something they liked in Kannok-Leipert as they traded up from 186 to get him. That pick, along with a sixth-round pick in 2019, went to Vancouver.

7th round, 217th overall: F Eric Florchuk, WHL, 6'2", 174 pounds

Florchuk was taken with the last pick of the draft.


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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson


GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”