Washington Capitals' Biggest Takeaways from the Start of Free Agency

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Washington Capitals' Biggest Takeaways from the Start of Free Agency
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Can the Caps recover from a rough start to free agency?

The beginning of free agency has not been kind to the Washington Capitals.

Truth be told, it has been rather ugly.

Virtually right after free agency started, things started to go downhill for the Caps.

NHL.com first reported  that Mike Ribeiro, one of the most consistent and solid performers for the Caps this past season, had signed a four-year, $22 million deal with the Phoenix Coyotes.

In other words, the Caps found themselves right back in the market for a second line center.

Then, NHL.com also reported that fan favorite Matt Hendricks was on his way to Nashville, along with Viktor Stalberg and Matt Cullen.

To make matters worse, one of the best free-agent centers available—and a man who could have been an excellent replacement for Ribeiro—Tyler Bozak re-signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs for five years and $21 million.

As for other viable second-line center options, another former Caps rival took away one of the better options when the Tampa Bay Lightning signed Valtteri Filppula to a five-year, $25 million contract.

With the Caps needing a second line center to replace the now departed Ribeiro, and with Mikhail Grabovski still available as a solid option for a second line center, the Caps instead entered into one-year, two-way, contracts with defenseman Tyson Strachan, right winger Matt Watkins, and goaltender David Leggio.

With Ribeiro leaving, Bozak staying in Toronto, Filppula going to Tampa, Grabovski still available, Karl Alzner and Marcus Johansson still needing to be re-signed and the Caps seemingly missing the boat entirely as far as free agency is concerned, there is every reason for Caps' fans to be very anxious about the direction of the team and what the prospects are for the 2013-14 season. 

About the only thing that has gone right for the Caps in free agency so far is that they were able to rid themselves of the cap hit otherwise known as Jeff Schultz, who was then signed to a one-year deal by the Los Angeles Kings.

So what are Caps' fans to take away from a rather rough start to free agency?

Here are the three biggest things I have noted.

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