What a strange summer this has been friends. The Caps schedule extended into June for the first time that most of us can remember. There was partying in the streets!! As we watched the Stanley Cup Parade we pondered what deals the Washington Capitals would make with their restricted and unrestricted players.
We knew that Brian MacLellan and his team would be making some hard calls to sign top players like a John Carlson and Tom Wilson.
Here is what went down:
Let’s start at the top. Barry Trotz did not accept a two-year extension with the Capitals. Instead he took a job with the NY Islanders. He brought Lane Lambert and Mitch Korn with him. The Capitals named Todd Reirden as the new head coach. Joining as the assistant coach was Reid Cashman, although the Caps haven’t officially announced yet.
First there was the Philipp Grubauer deal to the Colorado Avalanche. The Caps may not have necessarily gotten him the best deal but they got the salary cap space they needed. In the midst of the draft they traded him, and fellow teammate Brooks Orpik, in exchange for a second round draft pick. As the week unfolded, there were other possible teams where he could have landed a starting position- within the Eastern Conference- which some suggested the Caps did not want to happen.
Brooks Orpik went to Colorado with Grubi. Word was quickly leaked that the Avs would buy out his contract and place him on waivers. The Caps couldn’t afford to buy out his contract and they needed the space. The AVS went on to buy out his contract, making him a free agent and eligible to sign wherever he wanted.
AND THEN HE WAS BACK! It doesn’t happen too often but it all worked for the best for the Capitals. They were able to bring back the PaPa of the locker room. Here is the story behind his summer deal(s).
John Carlson was always the number one target for signing and it would take a good deal of money and a long-term commitment to make it happen. There were rumors that Carly was going to look around; however, the Capitals were able to come to agreement with Carlson, settling on eight years and $64 million.
That still left a few in the wind. Mac had already said that next to Carlson, his priority was signing Michal Kempny. And of course there remained additional UFAs Jay Beagle and Alex Chiasson. Throw in RFA’s Devante Smith-Pelly and Tom Wilson and it was anyone’s guess how they would sign the rookies on the roster.
Devante Smith-Pelly, the darling of the playoffs, was not given a qualifying offer by the deadline and became a UFA. We were not too surprised as we predicted they might go that route. Then on June 27, the Caps and DSP reached an agreement for an additional year at $1 million. This could be his breakout season!
The Capitals followed up with a four year, with an average of $2.5 million a year, deal for Kempny to keep playing with Carly. We didn’t anticipate a four-year contract; however, we think it is a great investment for the team.
Young dudes Madison Bowey, Travis Boyd, Liam O’Brien, and Riley Barber were provided qualifying offers. O’Brien rejected his offer.
Tom Wilson did receive a qualifying offer before the 5 pm deadline. It was weeks before the Capitals announced a deal. Late on 27 July the Capitals announced they and Tom had finally come to an agreement on a six-year $31.02 million contract.
And the Free Agency began on 1 July and things around the league heated up.
Jay Beagle found himself looking in from the outside and accepted a very generous offer from the Vancouver Canucks. A four-year $12 million contract that the Caps were unable to match. We will miss him in the face off and talking to the fan.
Alex Chiasson went unsigned. Instead they signed Nic Dowd.
The Caps announced they re-signed center Travis Boyd to a two-year contract with an annual value of $800,000. Congrats to Boyd!
Liam O’Brien, with the Hershey Bears, opted to enter into contract arbitration. His hearing was scheduled for 23 July in Toronto. Thankfully they were able to come to terms and “The Big Tuna” signed a one year two-way contract for $650,000.
Madison Bowey inked his two-year $2 million deal on July 19. He is currently listed on the Caps roster and will likely play on the blue line in the upcoming season.
Now that contracts are in place for the UFAs and RFAs it is a matter of the Caps new head coach to make some decisions about who stays in DC and who goes to Hershey to mature their game a bit more. The Caps roster will no doubt have a lot of younger players for Reirden to develop into the superstars he needs.