Most Likely Landing Spot for Each Washington Capital Hitting Free Agency
The Washington Capitals have four key free agents they hope to re-sign. But other teams covet these players as well.
According to CapGeek.com, the Capitals have $5,658,483 of cap space for 2013-14, so the team will not be able to re-sign all four of these free agents.
With that in mind, here is a list of the most likely landing spots for each Washington Capitals player hitting free agency. Each player is listed in alphabetical order with his position and free agency type, along with the NHL team other than the Washington Capitals that is most likely to sign them in the offseason.
Note: All statistics courtesy of NHL.com unless noted otherwise.
1. Karl Alzner D, RFA: Edmonton Oilers
Karl Alzner is a restricted free agent, so the Capitals have a better chance of re-signing him than if he were an unrestricted free agent.
However, Alzner's free agency status does not make him any less valuable as a free agent. Jonathan Willis of OilersNation.com writes that the Edmonton Oilers would be wise to pursue the stay-at-home defender:
What kind of defenceman [sic] do the Oilers want to add on their blue line? Ideally, they would obtain somebody young who can be a fit in a top-four role on the left side for years to come. It should be a player who skates well and is capable of moving the puck. A player used to seeing top opponents would be a good fit, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt if he had size on his side. Enter Karl Alzner. The 6’3”, 213 pound defender turns 25 in September. He averaged a hair under 21 minutes per game in Washington this season, playing 17:17 at even-strength and 2:34 in short-handed situations.
Alzner would definitely be a worthwhile investment for the Oilers, if they can pry the BC native away from the Capitals.
2. Matt Hendricks C, UFA: New York Rangers
Even before firing head coach John Tortorella, the New York Rangers had begun to change the make-up of their team. The trade deadline acquisitions of two physical, hard-working forwards in Ryane Clowe and Derek Dorsett helped transform the Rangers into a tougher, meaner squad.
File this one away for the July 5 opening of the free agent market: If there’s one guy on that Capitals club the Rangers have come to respect over the course of their annual playoff confrontations, that would be Matt Hendricks, the jagged-edged center who kills penalties and fits the Black-and-Blueshirt mold. Hendricks, who turns 32 next month, will be coming off a contract under which he earned $825,000 per. Expect the Rangers to put in a call when the market opens.
The loss of a "glue guy" such as Hendricks would certainly hurt the Capitals. Perhaps this valuable veteran is simply the odd man out in the Capitals' game of free agent musical chairs.
3. Marcus Johansson LW, RFA: Ottawa Senators
Marcus Johansson is a versatile forward who began to find his game in 2012-13 as a winger after struggling with the responsibilities of the center position in previous seasons. In 34 games, MoJo scored six goals and handed out 16 assists for a total of 22 points.
According to CapGeek.com, Johansson's contract paid him $900,000 in 2012-13, and he should receive a pay raise. Since Johansson is a restricted free agent, the Capitals can match any offer he receives from another team.
...we want players that have size and speed and good skill at whatever position we can get them at is what I would think. I don't think there's one specific need, but if we can get one anywhere I think that would be a great addition.
Johansson may fulfill all of MacLean's requirements, even if the Walrus has not said so publicly. At 6'1", 205 pounds, Johansson has the size, and he definitely has the speed. The skill is there as well, although, the 22-year-old Swede has not fully tapped into his vast potential. Furthermore, Johansson is capable of playing "whatever position" MacLean needs among the forward ranks.
Most importantly from the Senators standpoint is the fact that Johansson can only ask for so much in terms of salary, as his offensive production has yet to meet expectations. Johansson was selected in the first round of the 2009 NHL Draft, but as Hockey-reference.com shows, he has produced only 0.52 points per game in 183 career regular season games. Ottawa could play it relatively safe by signing him to a two-year contract worth $1,800,000 per season.
4. Mike Ribeiro C, UFA: Toronto Maple Leafs
The Capitals are not the only NHL team forced to make tough decisions regarding the center position during the 2013 offseason.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have $19,495,833 in cap space for 2013-14, as per CapGeek,com, but still may not be able to re-sign center Tyler Bozak, a popular topic of free agency rumors. The 27-year-old scored 12 goals with 16 assists for 28 points in 46 games last season. Four of those goals came on the power play.
The 33-year-old Ribeiro scored 12 goals with 37 assists for 49 points in 48 games in 2012-13. He also led the NHL with 21 power-play assists. Ribeiro, who has three kids, is looking for a five-year contract. However, as Ribeiro told Adam Vingan of NBCWashington on May 16, his desire for a long-term contract is less about him and "more about the kids."
Perhaps the veteran would think about moving his family to Toronto, which is much closer to his own childhood home of Montreal.