Earlier this month, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby filed for arbitration due to a disagreement with the offer that the Capitals had in mind. The Caps decided to offer Holtby a mere $5.1 million AAV, despite other star goalies such as Corey Crawford, Pekka Rinne, Sergei Bobrovsky, and others making $6 million or more per year. In the end, the two sides avoided arbitration by agreeing to a five-year, $30.5 million contract. After the Holtby signing, the Capitals now only have $4.2 million in Cap space, but they still have to worry about the second RFA, Marcus Johansson.
Marcus Johansson, a first round pick from 2009, has averaged around 0.58 points per game since his breakout season in 2011-12, and has proven himself to be a solid, playmaking top-6 forward. However, the Capitals have made two big signings in the Free Agency that will most likely fill the role that Johansson wants to play. T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams both signed with the Caps, and both are eyeing the open Right Wing spot with Backstrom and Oveckin. The second line will have no shortage of talent as well, with Kuznetsov most likely centering Burakovsky/Johansson and Williams/Oshie. Johansson is trying to get a contract worth $4.75 million per year, but with the team’s recent acquisitions, he doesn’t have as much leverage in this negotiation. He’s displayed consistency over the past four season and can fill any forward position, which would make him a beneficial force for the team. The Caps offered him $3 million, and it’s looking like they are nearing a deal somewhere in the $4 million range, which would mean the Caps would have to clear up some cap space.
In mid-June, the Capitals signed AHL goalie Philipp Grubauer to a two-year, one-way contract worth $700 thousand per year. Up until recently, Caps fans have wondered what would become of Justin Peters given his lack of playing time and subpar performance during the 2014-15 season, but with Holtby and Grubauer both signed, it’s becoming clear that Peters will probably end up being put on waivers. This move would save the Capitals an extra $0.9 million in cap space, and would plug the hole left from the Pheonix Copley trade. Looking to the future, the Capitals signed KHL goalie Ilya Samsonov in the first round. Samsonov, however, is more inclined to stay and develop in the KHL like his fellow national Evgeny Kuznetsov. He has stated that he is willing to start in the AHL after he feels comfortable, which would be beneficial to both him and the organization since he has the potential to be the next star goalie for the Capitals.
By the time the signings are all settled, the Capitals will almost certainly have re-signed Johansson with a little over $1 million in cap space available after Peters is placed on waivers. The Metropolitan division should be scared of the Capitals this year. All of the needs the Caps have had have been met: A strong starting goalie with a reliable backup, two forward lines that can put points on the board, and a gritty blue line that’s not afraid to activate offensively. With all of the recent signings, the Capitals are looking to be one of the best all-around teams in the league this coming season.
By Justin Green