Washington Capitals’ Available Budget For 2020 Free Agency

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.

SALARY CAP
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.

EXISTING CONTRACTS
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.


FREE AGENTS
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


PROSPECT CALL-UPS
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.


OPTIONAL MOVES

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

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About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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10 Responses to Washington Capitals’ Available Budget For 2020 Free Agency

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Caps have some serious salary problems. While they will free up some space as mentioned above that largely leaves the offense in the same shape as it was this year which was largely ineffective. The Caps have more talent than the NYI but couldn’t do squat against them, coaching is part of that but good players step up.
    We have to many players that are over paid that can’t be traded. Mainly the entire 3rd line and Haglin on the 4th line. No one would take Panik for 2.75M for his performance level and Kovalchuk is probably too old to sign, sorry Kovi.
    Eller, while he is a stable at the Caps he also isn’t super impressive as of late and carries $3.5M hit. Eller played in 6 of the 9 playoff/round robin games and I believe was a -4 with an 1 assist. Haglin has a hit of $2.75M for a 4th line guy, no one would pay that for a 4th line guy. Trades for those high prices will be hard to find with the salary cap staying flat.
    I think it would be good to cut some of the expensive weight and bring up some speed if they are ready from Hershey.
    Travis Boyd I do think is a sign as mentioned above, but give him a chance to play, if not cut him lose to play someplace else. He may not have stepped up as much as folks would have liked in the playoffs but who on the team did? In the 9 round robin/playoff games he played in 5 games for less than 50min playing time and had a goal, better than most of the 3rd and 4th line guys can say. He has always been a player that can sit on the bench for a long time and step in a play decently, what if he had a chance to jell with a line, and he’s cheap?

    None of this matters if we don’t have a coach that can put together a plan that works for the team. Defense wins playoffs, we need to shore up the defense as well if we want to have another run at it before the old guys are too old.

    These playoffs were horrible and to base decisions just on the playoffs would be bad idea, take a hard look at what the teams needs to make a deep run and what we currently have isn’t it.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I agree with a majority of your assessment, however I would add that these are the times, and all teams will eventually feel the flat cap. Most teams will have cap issues over the next two years. The teams that handle it best and have the deepest prospect pool (read good cheap players) will rise to the top. I also agree with your assessment regarding the ultimate issue at hand.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think the greater short-term issue is the Seattle expansion draft, and that makes re-signing Dillon less clear. Assuming the Caps extend Ovechkin and Vrana before the end of next season, then we would have to use the 7-3-1 protection option. That would mean: Ovechkin, Backstrom (NMC), Kuznetsov, Wilson, Oshie, Eller, Vrana, Carlson, Siegenthaler, and one of Orlov or Dillon, and Samsonov. Re-signing Dillon, unless it’s to a one-year contract, would create the situation of having to expose him or Orlov to the draft.

    If we went the 9-player protection route, the Caps could possibly save a spot by delaying the Ovechkin extension until after he hits UFA (meaning he would be ineligible to be drafted by Seattle) and having a gentlemen’s agreement with him to re-sign with the Caps since that would be his only NHL preference anyway. Danger there is that the KHL could come in with a HUGE offer and lure him back to Russia. Even if the Caps successfully pull this off, it still leaves them with a Orlov/Dillon dilemma, unless of course a decision is made to not protect an older player like Oshie.

    The expansion draft is a bigger problem than next year’s cap. It’s the reason why Fehervary didn’t play in the playoffs – 3 more NHL games would’ve given him 1 year of NHL experience. That means that after this coming season, he would have 2 years of experience and be exposed in the draft.

    Not worried about contracts for players like Hagelin, Panik, Kempny,, Jensen, or Hathaway, especially after this upcoming season. They are of sufficiently low AAV that they could be bought out for cap space with a smaller cap hit down the road when the cap returns to normal.

    • Marky says:

      Sorry but Caps don’t buyout players so they have to trade anyone they want to get rid of.

      • hockeydruid says:

        But the times they are a changing as in order for them to be competitive they either buy out planters or watch as things fall apart and slowly decline and they become what meant teams become when stars become old and salary a problem……they lose a lot. For that not to happen business cannot go on as normal.

  3. hockeydruid says:

    First the Caps need to decide is GMBM around next year and is Rardon here for one year or more? I see them keeping GMBM for several more years but only keeping Reardon for next season unless he goes real deep into the playoffs next season. There are a lot of good coaches on the sidelines just waiting to get a job. This is where letting Trotz go over $$$$ is hurting this team.
    The expansion draft will be a great time to lose some salary so do you expose Oshie, who Seattle would take in a minute to be their Captain and a hometown boy and get salary relief or do you expose Orlov and hopefully Seattle would take him. either way they lose salary but if Oshie goes they also lose scoring which this team lacks and also a locker room spark.
    Now how about we go for some salary relief with not signing people and cutting others: Holtby is gone and let Samsonov and a 2 headed backup of Copley and Vanecek play next year; as for Kovi thanks for your time but cant afford your salary at your age; Gudas you were only a 1 year player and you did your job, thanks; Panik you are just not working out and as you will be 30 mid next season and going to get no better hre thanks for your time; Hagelin at 32 and with your salary and production you do not have a future here so thanks for your service; Dillon thanks for your service but at $4 million and age 30 we are going to go younger; Kempny and Jensen, guys you will both be 31 come the start of next season and your not getting any faster nor are your mistakes going away so thanks for your service.
    Now I realize that that is saying goodby to a lot of the roster but in order to get back to where we are in the hunt for the Cup not just a playoff spot we need to get younger, faster and more productive and not keep trading away draft picks or young players to get under the cap.
    So lets go with Alexeyev, Fehervary and Lewington added to the D and give the 3rd and 4th lines to a group of players to include Pilon, Sprong, Pinho, Mcmichael, Melenstyn, Maillet, Gersich and Boyd. Is a guy like Lucas Johansen or Connor Hobbs or Joe Snively or Aliaksei Protas or Brett Leason or Tobias geisser ready for their shot and can they contribute?
    Sooner or later some of the young guys have to be given their shots and just let them play. There is a need to find out what is in the pipeline as it has been getting dry for years now as players have been traded for older players and draft picks have been traded for players who have not panned out.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure at all Seattle will take Oshie. He will be close to 35 years old at that time, and I get that he’s from Seattle but not sure what that really means anymore. It depends on who else Seattle picks and the year Oshie has. And if TJ has a good year, the Caps may just decide he’s a good deal for his productivity and spark. I’d also be very wary of leaving Orlov unprotected, especially if the team is still trying to convince Ovechkin to stay after his contract runs out (which they are). I believe the Ovechkins and Orlovs are close and the two have been teammates for a long time.

    If you go with that many youngsters on the bottom lines and the D, then you are compromising the narrow window available for a SC run with this older team. You can’t just throw that many youngsters out there at once and “let them play” as an experiment. Not with this team of established veterans all hoping for another Cup run. How would Ovechkin react to that philosophy? What would be his motivation to stay with the Caps over literally owning Russia if he returns to Dynamo?

    There are a lot more dynamics at play on this team than just playing accountant with the salary cap and discarding veterans for rookies.

    • hockeydruid says:

      The way this team is made up they do not have a SC run left. With that said salary cap relief is what they need and then an infusion of young, fast talent. Sooner or later they have to make personal changes and develop some new strategies as their 5 on 5 and power play have declined since Jan of this year. The O’s may be close but this is a business not a frat party. You have to do what is best for the team. And if putting Oshie or Orlov up for the expansion draft and losing one of them then that is the price to pay for future success. The pipeline for this team is slim and they need to stop paying stop gap players who do not produce just to get warm bodies in the locker room. I would rather lose with younger players than older players who have nothing left just because you think you have one more run for the Cup.

      • Marky says:

        I think they are on the verge of the decline and with the right tweaks could take one more shot next year but odds aren’t great with our remaining young goaltenders so they would need a Crawford or Khudobin type for one year to do that. OR do you shake off denial and trade a core guy or two and start at least a partial rebuild? GMBM has some big choices to make, glad I’m not him.

        • hockeydruid says:

          Not on the verge they are on the decline. First they have to get their new HC. Then they have to decide who their goaltender will be and in what order or do you swap out 1 or 2 and sign a free agent. Then you have to look ahead to next offseason on who do you protect for the expansion draft. Are you willing to lose Oshie? IF so then maybe moving Kuzy to wing and putting McMichael at 3rd line center some the coming year would be a good transition. Just as this past season ended in a mess I think next season has to be looked at as lets see what we have in our system and plan for 2021/22. People forget that for a goalie to be good he has to have a good defense in front of him and the Caps are lacking there and giving up to many goals close in. Once again this goes back to the HC and the changes he makes during the game and the personal he has to work with.

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