Change is coming to the Caps this week. Between the draft, trades, and upcoming unrestricted free agent (UFA) and restricted free agent (RFA) signings and free trades; the Washington Capitals will be doing what they can to create four solid scoring lines. We also expect to see the Caps adjusting the defensive lines to add scoring power on the other end.
So what is all this talk of RFA and UFA? In simple terms, UFAs are for older, seasoned players and RFA’s are for the “young guns” of the team. And everything hinges on the players status by the end of 30 June. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of 2013:
UFAs have played seven seasons or more and must be 27 years or older by 30 June. They can sign new contracts any time before 1 July with their current team. They have the greatest flexibility when it comes to signing a contract. If they haven’t signed with their current team by the 1st, they are available to sign with any other team. Teams can also just as easily trade a player’s right to negotiate.
The Caps UFA’s are: Jason Chimera, Mike Richards, and Mike Weber.
RFAs have played less than seven seasons and are under 27 years of age on 30 June. If these players aren’t signed they have the option of going to arbitration with their agent to negotiate a new deal. The team who owns the original contract has the first right of refusal. New contracts need to be offered by 25 June or the Monday after the NHL draft (June 27, 2016). The minimum deal they can be offered is a one-year contract which means they have to do it all again the next season, unless they are cut loose. If the team fails to sign the player he then becomes a UFA and is free to sign with any other team. All of this plays into future draft picks too.
Arbitration includes amount of salary and length of terms. Additional terms can include non-trade clauses and even a signing bonus on top of the base salary.
The Caps RFA’s are: Marcus Johansson, Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, and Dmitry Orlov.
Although much can be decided by 30 June, there is still a sense of excitement on 1 July as the trading war and signings begin.
The Caps are likely to sign a few of the UFA and RFA players, but not all of them. This is in large part because of the salary cap each team faces. In order to bring in new blood, the Caps may not sign a new contract with a player, especially if that also includes a bump in salary. In the past GM Brian MacLellan has indicated that he plans to submit qualifying offers to all the RFAs; however, that is no guarantee that they will come to terms.
As much as some of these changes are painful to consider, here is our prediction:
Jason Chimera: Caps are likely to cut him loose. At 37, this has been one of his best years but at a potential cost of $2 million, he may just cost too much to re-sign.
Mike Richards: The Caps brought him in with the hope that his Stanley Cup background would inspire a win. His season was not great, but then again, he is just getting back in the game. With a contract under $2 million, he is a 50/50 for next season.
Mike Weber: The Caps brought him in for $1 million and a one-year contract. There are mixed reviews on how the 2015/16 season went. The Caps leadership seems to like him while the fan base is less thrilled. As a low cost, they could sign him for another year.
Marcus Johansson: There has been a lot of buzz of late that the Caps should and will let MoJo go. We think that would be a bad move. Marcus stepped up this season to fill in the gap for injured or suspended players. He; however, is likely to cost upwards of $4.5 million and he is likely to want a long-term commitment.
Tom Wilson: Ok, there is no doubt that the Caps will sign Willy. Caps are likely to offer him at least $1.5 million a year and probably a long-term contract as well.
Dmitry Orlov: Dima didn’t have his best year. Coach Trotz has spoken highly of his potential. We expect to see the Caps sign Orlov, maybe not a long-term contract but long enough to give him time to bounce back. He could cost the Caps about $2.5 million. All this unless they find a better fit for the team.
Michael Latta: Things don’t look great for a new contract this year. We of course want to see him signed and given another year to mature as a player. We think he was under-played and that the Caps have yet to see his full potential. That said, he may cost between $1.25 and $1.5 million.
The Caps have already brought in Lars Eller from Montreal. He most likely will force the trade of Latts. The Caps also have a whole slew of Hershey Bears that the Caps may sign and bring up. Tops on that list is Jakub Vrana . He had one heck of a good year (16 G, 18 A). More about him later. And then we have Madison Bowey (4G, 25 A)and Chandler Stephenson (7 G, 21 A).
Stay tuned, this week will be fun to watch!!