According to multiple sources, free agent centre Eric Belanger has a one-year deal in waiting to return to the Washington Capitals. The contract is believed to be a slight raise over the $1.75-million he made last season, to $1.85-million.The rumor is the Caps are deep in talks with Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs to land Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle is certain he will be traded despite his no trade clause he has with the Toronto organization. In return, Fleischmann has been dropped in as bait. As a result, Belanger can't say he is signed until the deal is finalized.
What's interesting is that he has been told not to announce where he's going, leading to Belanger telling the French language newspaper Le Soleil on Wednesday that he is about to sign but can't say where due to the fact the team he's headed to is working on a trade.
Washington apparently does not want to announce they've signed Belanger in order to help first complete another deal, potentially to move out a forward and bring in a defenceman. I'm told that one player the Caps are looking to trade is 26-year-old Tomas Fleishmann, who had 23 goals and 51 points in a bit of a breakout season last year and signed a one-year, $2.6-million deal this summer.
Unfortunately, there are also rumors that 19 other teams are in trade talks with Burke for the 11 year veteran defenseman. Burke also has struck down the rumors in the very same article:
"We are not in discussions with the Capitals about Tomas Kaberle," Burke said. "Not once."Hmm.
Another rumor circling the rounds concerning the Caps is a possible trade with the Oilers. While this one has far less steam and less national media attention. The trade would include Fleischmann and a prospect for Sheldon Souray. Souray wanted to be traded after the Oilers finished out of the playoff race last spring and it may have set the organization looking for the best offer before the season starts to depart ways with the hard shooting defenseman.
Souray's contract is for another two years with the Oilers at $4.5 million a season. Close to the same price as Kaberle who is his final year of his contract with Toronto at $4.25 million.
Something to chew on.
Editor's note: Washington Post and other sources have confirmed that Eric Belanger will resign with the Washington Capitals for a one year deal around $1.85 million. The announcement will not come until the Caps finish making their roster moves. Not sure what the wait is for, considering that sources have said that the resigning will happen whether a trade happens or not.