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Would Capitals walk away from Johansson?

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Would Capitals walk away from Johansson?

No matter what happens between now and Braden Holtby’s scheduled arbitration hearing on July 23, the 25-year-old goaltender is going to play for the Capitals next season and get paid handsomely (probably between $5.5 million and $6.5 million) to do so. The future of 24-year-old left wing Marcus Johansson is a lot more fuzzy.

Johansson has an arbitration hearing set for July 29. With five NHL seasons under his belt, Johansson is two years away from unrestricted free agency and is coming off a two-year, $4 million contract that paid him $2.175 million last season.

To retain his rights, the Caps were required to offer Johansson at least 100 percent of his 2014-15 salary, which they did, presumably at $2.175 million.

It is unclear whether the Caps made a second, more lucrative, offer to Johansson. If they did not, they may be content with letting his case go to arbitration.

Here’s where things get tricky.

If an arbitrator awards Johansson (or any other NHL player) $3,799,887 or better, the Capitals (or any other NHL team taken to arbitration by a player) can walk away from the award, making Johansson a free agent. (Last year's "walk-away" number was set at $3.5 million.)

Caps general manager Brian MacLellan is taking a wait-and-see approach on Johansson because he wants to see how the market dictates Johansson’s value.

MORE CAPITALS: MACLELLAN TIGHTROPES ON SALARY CAP 

Anaheim Ducks left wing Carl Hagelin ($2.4 million last season) is an unsigned restricted free agent who has put up similar numbers (58 goals, 72 assists, 130 points in 266 NHL games) as Johansson (61-125-186 in 345 games). But when the Rangers decided they were not willing to pay Hagelin more than $4 million, they traded him to the Ducks for Emerson Etem and a second-round pick.

The Caps, who have roughly $11 million in cap space, could find themselves in a similar predicament. If the Capitals are forced to pay Holtby more than $6 million, they almost certainly will not want to pay Johansson close to $4 million, especially if they have him slotted on a third-line behind left wings Alex Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky.

Last year, two days before his arbitration hearing, right wing Michael Frolik avoided arbitration with the Calgary Flames by signing a one-year, $3.3 million contract. Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello beat the arbitration clock by three days when he agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.

If Johansson, who is coming off a career-high 20 goals and 47 points, is awarded $3.8 million or more, the Caps could walk away from the forward and use Johansson’s allotted salary space on another player, like, say, Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak.

The Leafs appear to be set down the middle with centers Nazem Kadri, Peter Holland, Richard Panik and Shawn Matthias and are reportedly shopping Bozak, who is coming off a career-high 23 goals and 49 points.

Bozak, 29, hails from Barry Trotz’s home town of Regina, Saskatchewan and has three years remaining on a contract that pays him $4.2 million a season.

To get Bozak, the Caps probably would need to part with a roster player (Brooks Laich, Michael Latta, Jason Chimera?) and a prospect (Riley Barber, Connor Carrick?).

Take a look at the Caps’ current forward depth chart vs. one with Bozak and discuss what you would do?

Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams

Marcus Johansson (RFA) – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson

Jason Chimera – Brooks Laich/Michael Latta – Stan Galiev/Jakub Vrana

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Ovechkin-Backstrom-Oshie

Burakovsky-Kuznetsov-Williams

Chimera/Laich – Bozak – Wilson

Latta-Beagle-Vrana/Galiev

 

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Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

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Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

Defenseman Madison Bowey re-signed with the Capitals on Thursday, inking a two-year extension that will carry an average of $1 million.

Bowey carried a cap charge of $703,333 last season.

The 23-year-old appeared in 51 games for the Caps in 2017-18, amassing 12 assists, 24 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of minus-3.

Bowey also suited up in nine contests for AHL Hershey, though he finished the season as one of the Black Aces during Washington's run to the Stanley Cup.

With Bowey back in the fold, the Caps now have six of seven defenseman from last season’s roster under contract. (Veteran Brooks Orpik remains an unrestricted free agent.)

Bowey had an uneven first year in the NHL—he didn’t play following the late-February addition of Michal Kempny—but the Caps expect that the 6-2, 198-pound right-shot blue liner will become reliable full-time player with more seasoning.

Bowey’s deal leaves Tom Wilson as the Caps' only remaining unsigned restricted free agent. The sides are in discussions on a multi-year extension.

Including Bowey’s extension, the Caps have roughly $7.3 million in salary cap space remaining, according to www.capfriendly.com.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Checking in on Hershey

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Checking in on Hershey

In the present, the Capitals are the Stanley Cup champions. But what does the future hold?

The voice of the Hershey Bears, Zack Fisch, joins JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir to talk all things prospects!

Who stood out at development camp? How will Pheonix Copley look as backup? Which Hershey prospects could push for a spot in the NHL? All that and more on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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