Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Caps Confident In Youth

As you have already heard, qualifying offers were made to eight restricted free agents by the Capitals. Washingtoncaps.com:
The players are: Chris Bourque, Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, Milan Jurcina, Shaone Morrisonn, Steve Pinizzotto, Jeff Schultz and Kyle Wilson.

These players are now restricted free agents and able to negotiate elsewhere, but Washington could either match any offer or receive compensation should they sign with another team.

Among that group, Fehr, Gordon, Jurcina, Morrisonn, Pinizzotto and Wilson have arbitration rights. They can elect to have their salary for 2009-10 determined by salary arbitration, with those hearings scheduled for late July and early August. Players and clubs have the option to elect arbitration by July 5 and 6, respectively.

Washington did not extend qualifying offers to four players – Andrew Joudrey, Daren Machesney, Travis Morin and Sasha Pokulok – meaning that they will become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday and can sign with any team (including the Capitals).
The players offered a contract makes the most sense. Bourque continues to grow and it will only be a matter of time before he stays with the big club. Fehr played well and was only hindered by injuries. Morrisonn, Jurcina, and Schultz were all mainstays on the blue line and all played well (Although Schultz has yet to live up to his first round billing). Pinizzotto was a great character player for the Hershey Bears last season. Gordon was a solid defensive forward and Wilson is progressing nicely.

This, the eve of Free Agent Frenzy, The Caps may look to filling holes with prospects rather than bet the bank on a available free agent when the clock strikes noon. But GM George McPhee has warned that we may not hear the Caps mentioned in the days to come as free agents flood the headlines.

If the Capitals are to play in the free agent market, they would be looking for a solid second line center. They would also look for the cheapest option possible. Of the available centers available as free agents this summer, here are some considerations.

Samuel Pahlsson, 31 years old, last season's contract: $1.4 million with Chicago. Pahlsson was a big part of Chicago making the playoffs and going to the second round. His price tag is relatively low, which might mean he is looking for more cash. But his experience with the Ducks and the Hawks will make his contributions immediately felt for the Caps.

Manny Malhotra, 29 years old, last season's contract: $1.5 million with Columbus. Malhotra has two things going for him, he comes pretty cheap and he was second in the NHL in face offs. He is also a work horse who had a streak of 140 games before an injury sidelined him early last season.

Marcel Goc, 25 years old, last season's contract: $775,000 with San Jose. A good hard working player, but injury prone. He lead his team in face off wins and seems to play his best against better teams. His price tag is an attractive attribute.

Another area the Caps could use help is on the blue line. Again, McPhee is confident that they don't need to sign certain players to bad contracts just because there is a hole, but here are a few defensemen that look intriguing.

Mathieu Dandenault, 33 years old, last season's contract: $1.75 million with Montreal. Dandenault's age is the only bad thing about him. Solid defender with good experience and he may sign for 3 years or less.

Michael Komisarek, 27 years old, last season's contract: $1.9 million with Montreal. Komisarek is an A1 leader. He is a tough stay at home defender that makes the players around him better. When he was injured, he took to the bench as a coach and helped his team from there. A great character player to have in the locker room. His price is a bit high however.

Steve Montador, 29 years old, last season's contract: $800,000 with Boston. Montador is a good puck moving defenseman that plays will with a cheap price tag (maybe).

Whatever the Caps do, one thing is clear; they are pretty good in the goaltending department. Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth both have made the Caps deep between the pipes. Jose Theodore will most likely make his return and Brent Johnson has told many that he wished to return. That makes the Caps set for goaltenders (they didn't even pick one in this year's entry draft).

The Caps will lose and have lost talent to free agency as well. Donald Brashear has decided to test the market, a good sign he may not return. Viktor Kozlov and Sergei Fedorov have moved on to the KHL. Some minor leaguers might make the move elsewhere as well, Alex Giroux, Graham Mink and defensemen Steffan Kronwall and Bryan Helmer.

All that remains to be seen is what players and teams decided to do. The Caps may be saving their fireworks for the developmental camp in mid-July.

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