Yet another Washington Capitals season has ended in disappointing fashion (most of them do, that’s sports.) This year’s offseason will be critical in terms of addressing needs and reshaping the team, as there are many areas of concern that need to be addressed. In this post we will begin the free agency discussion with a look at the financial parameters in play for the Capitals and ultimately determine a final free agency budget.
Prior to entering the free agency period, its important to determine the funds available for free agency acquisitions. This post will simply focus on defining a bottom line for the Capitals 2020-2021 free agency period, while follow up posts will detail specific needs and proposed spending for free agency upgrades.
Its been widely reported that the league salary cap will see little if any increase. Funding issues primarily associated with the COVID-19 pandemic stoppage will likely result in a flat cap, or a cap that stays at it’s existing value of $81.5 million.
The Capitals will have a number of existing contracts that continue for the 2020-2021 season. These include:
The Capitals have $71,080,128 in existing contract obligations for the 2020-2021 season, leaving $10,419,872 in cap space for the 2020-2021 season.
Decisions need to be rendered for several existing Capitals players, and if the players should be retained or allowed to pursue opportunities with other organizations.
Here is a quick summary of those players, a cursory decision regarding their status and a general cost estimate to re-sign the player, if appropriate.
Travis Boyd (RFA) – Boyd struggled in the postseason, but his value as a utility centerman is still very relevant and valuable in this climate. He has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to sit for lengthy periods and be effective when called upon. That’s real value for a team counting pennies.
Verdict: Re-sign – $900,000
Ilya Kovalchuk (UFA) – Kovalchuk is popular with many fans, however the fit and value just isn’t there. He will be offered bigger bucks in the upcoming free agency period, more than Capitals can afford or will want to pay.
Verdict: Don’t re-sign
Radko Gudas – (UFA) Gudas was always intended to be a one year stop-gap to replace Matt Niskanen while prospects Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev gain experience. Fehervary is ready.
Verdict: Don’t re-sign
Brenden Dillon – (UFA) There has been plenty of debate as to whether or not the Capitals should re-sign Brenden Dillon. Both sides have indicated some interest in extending Dillon’s stay in Washington. At this point he could be staying in Washington. Because he is a UFA, he will get a decent bump in pay should he stay in Washington.
Verdict: Re-sign ($4,000,000)
Jonas Siegenthaler – (RFA) Siegenthaler has struggled at times this past season and was even benched in the playoffs, but at 23, Siegenthaler is still learning the ropes. He’s definitely a keeper.
Verdict: Re-sign ($900,000)
Braden Holtby – The harshest of all salary cap casualties this offseason will likely be Braden Holtby. Holtby will be offered much more money by other teams during the free agency period, money the Capitals will be unable to match. It’s hard to see Braden pass-up money to stay when you consider he is a family man looking at possibly his last big pay day. The one sliver of hope would be if Braden sees gloomy economic conditions for free agency this year, and wants to sit still for a year (sign a one-year extension) hoping for better financial opportunities next offseason.
Verdict: Don’t re-sign.
Total For Re-signs: $5,800,000
In addition to the aforementioned contracts and costs, the Capitals will likely elevate prospects to their full time roster.
Martin Fehervary – Fehervary will most likely be a full-time player on the Capitals blueline for the 2020-2021 season.
In addition to Fehervary, it’s likely the Capitals will look to cut costs by elevating one or two forward prospects, including Brian Pinho, Beck Malenstyn, Daniel Sprong and/or others. This will likely be determined in November during training camp.
BONUS OVERAGE PENALTY – The Capitals accrued a bonus overage penalty of $419,749.00 for bonus ever allowable amount. The penalty will be automatically applied to the Capitals’ bottom line for next season.
AVAILABLE CAP SPACE
The following is a summation of the above:
The Capitals will have approximately $3,394,290 in cap space entering this years free agency period.
Trade – The budget breakdown obviously doesn’t include speculative trades to reduce payroll, however that is certainly an option for Brian MacLellan.
Brenden Dillon – The Capitals could gain $4 million in cap space by not re-singing Dillon and looking elsewhere.
Travis Boyd – Boyd could be let go in favor of a forward prospect, possibly with a little less cap hit.
Our next few posts will begin to assess the Capitals needs and develop potential solutions within the available salary cap budget.
By Jon Sorensen