The Washington Capitals management team is gearing up for long summer once again. After spending last summer with the Stanley Cup, the Capitals front office brass will look to improve a club that was bounced early in the first round of the postseason.
While the Capitals were certainly one of the best teams in the league, changes to the roster will need to be made for the club to get back to the Stanley Cup Final. Every NHL General Manager makes the tough decisions during the NHL Draft and Free Agency periods.
The Capitals have a roster that is built to contend and built to win now. The Capitals window for winning a Stanley Cup is still open, but they must tweak the roster a bit for next season.
General Manager Brian MacLellan and his staff must make some tough decisions on some of the Capitals key roster players.
What are some of the biggest decisions Brian MacLellan must make? Which players will need new contract extensions? Which players might the Capitals lose in free agency?
Let’s dive in to some of the biggest decisions of the Capitals offseason:
It is a no-brainer that Vrana is a lock to remain on the roster for next season and beyond. Vrana will likely need a lengthy contract extension that will keep him in the mix for the foreseeable future. Vrana’s contract is priority #1 for the Capitals, as Vrana is a young core piece moving forward.
BRADEN HOLTBY AND NICKLAS BACKSTROM EXTENSIONS
This is where it will get dicey for the Washington Capitals. On July 1, Holtby and Backstrom will be eligible for contract extensions. Holtby will be 30 years old next September, and Backstrom will be 32 years old next November.
Both players are a part of the Capitals core, and both will likely seek raises on their current deals. The tricky part to each respective player’s deal will be the term. The Capitals must be careful with these new deals as both players will likely hit the down-swing of their careers at some point in the future.
Orpik has been a leader for the Capitals ever since his arrival. It is still unknown if Orpik will choose to retire or continue his hockey career. Orpik was offered a performance incentive-based contract last summer to remain in DC, so if he does choose to continue his hockey career, he could likely face the same kind of deal this summer.
ANDRE BURAKOVSKY AND BRETT CONNOLLY
Burakovsky and Connolly were key contributors to the Capitals Stanley Cup run in 2018. Connolly posted career numbers in 2019, as he recorded 22 goals and 46 points. Burakovsky has continued to struggle with on-ice consistency, but he is a restricted-free agent. Connolly will likely be in line for a nice payday on the open market as an unrestricted free-agent, but the Capitals management will certainly make him an offer to try and retain him.
The salary cap is likely to be set around $84 million next season, so the Capitals are going to have to be careful with every dollar they spend on players.
By: George Foussekis