Here is the latest from the Washington Capitals’ rumor mill.
John Carlson – According to TSN, Pierre LeBrun speculates over the possibility of a sign-and-trade scenario for Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (his article is here). He’s the top blueliner in this year’s free-agent market and leads all NHL rearguards in scoring this season. LeBrun believes Carlson’s preference is re-signing with the Capitals and keeping him is their priority, but they could find it difficult fitting his new contract under their cap. “The only reason there’s a possibility of a sign and trade is if the eighth year matters that much to John Carlson”, said LeBrun. If the Capitals can’t re-sign him, he suggests “they get something in return if they give him that eighth year and trade him.” More on John Carlson and the “sign and trade” option here. On the “Wednesday Night Rivalry” broadcast, NBC’s Bob McKenzie stated Carlson will see offers of $7-8 million per year on the open market (if Carlson decides to explore free agency). “Carlson will get between $7M AND $8M on a six, seven or eight-year deal. If WSH wants to keep him, Caps will have to move some bodies/contracts”. That’s a mighty tough number/term for the Capitals to reach. (List of this summer’s free agents is here.)
Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer – The NHL’s Dan Rosen was asked about the Capitals goaltending situation in his “Weekly Mailbag” column (here). His reply was interesting, and insightful, having just met with Caps media in New York. ” I think a lot depends on what happens in the playoffs. If the Capitals are eliminated early, I think we’ll see a lot of changes, including in net. If Holtby gets his job back, responds well and takes the Capitals on a long run, I think it would be hard to change directions next season. That said, it’s the right move for the Capitals to make Grubauer the unquestioned No. 1 starting next season. Rosen also stated “In this salary cap world, with two potential No. 1 goalies, the Capitals would get some savings if they trade Holtby and re-sign Grubauer, who can be a restricted free agent after the season. Holtby has two years remaining on his contract with a $6.1 million NHL salary cap charge, but his actual salary for the next two seasons is $5 million per. He’s eminently tradable, especially to a team that needs a No. 1 goalie, like the Buffalo Sabres, Islanders and potentially the Arizona Coyotes depending on what happens with Antti Raanta. Grubauer hasn’t done enough to warrant a Holtby-like salary, but he has proven he can play like a No. 1. Samsonov would have an entry-level contract. Washington would still have two quality goaltenders. Regardless of what you hear on the streets, the Capitals goalie situation is very much up in the air, for now, the playoffs as well as for next season.
Ted Leonsis – Capitals’ owner Ted Leonsis was on hand for the Caps team photo on Thursday at Capital One Arena. Leonsis spoke with the media for 15 minutes prior to the photo session. He was asked about the contract situation with head coach Barry Trotz. Leonsis declined to comment. “I don’t talk about contracts. I think it’s inappropriate, especially right now.” He was also asked if there were any regrets with signing Alex Ovechkin to a 13-year contract. Leonsis replied, “yeah, my regret is it isn’t a 15-year contract.”
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Game Rosters – An interesting tidbit from last week’s General Managers meetings that seems to be getting some traction. According to Elliotte Friedman, Blackhawk’s GM Stan Bowman floated an idea regarding game rosters. “John (McDonough, Blackhawks President) has been asking me for a long time, ‘Explain this healthy-scratch idea,’” Bowman said Monday, referring to players who don’t dress for games. “He’d say, ‘But we are paying them, right? I don’t get why we are not using them.’ “To be honest, I wasn’t really sure of a good answer. I think the idea used to be, you didn’t want a situation where if someone was coming in down four goals, they’d start a lot of trouble. But those guys don’t exist any more. If you can’t play, you can’t play.” What Bowman suggested was every team continue to be allowed an in-game roster of 18 skaters and two goalies. However, coaches could insert their “healthy scratches” during a game. Like baseball, once someone is taken out, they cannot return. Someone gets injured? Substitute. Down 2–0 heading into the third period, with an offensive player not dressed? Hey bud, suit up. Up 2–0 heading into the third period, with a good defensive player relaxing in a La-Z-Boy? Get dressed!
By Jon Sorensen