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Capitals back to the grind -Niskanen 1st casualty of cap 2019, Hagelin back

June 17, 2019, 6:02 PM ET [0 Comments]
Marcus Boutilier
Washington Capitals Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
It's officially over. The Capitals reign as champs ended as the Stanley Cup was passed on to the deserved St. Louis Blues. It was great to see a team such as the Blues win and congrats to their fanbase, whom much like the Capitals, waited a long time for a celebration of this magnitude. In a hypothetic remembrance of what could have been, would have had TJ Oshie facing his former mates if the Caps had made it to the Final again. Though his injury may have kept him out anyhow.

Now it's time to get after it again and General Manager Brian MacLellan is holding no cards back as he looks to get the Caps back to the Final for another crack at the Cup....this year.

Many factors are playing into the urgency of going after another championship this year. Contracts for former Vezina winner Braden Holtby and franchise assist leader Nicklas Backstrom are up after this upcoming season and Captain Alex Ovechkin's due for renewal after 20-21.

My sense is these three will all be here throughout this season but Holtby will most likely be the one player of the three to end up leaving Washington before the start of the 2020-21 season. This scenario of Holtby exiting has been on the minds of Caps fans for a little while now, and with a purebred starting goalie of the future in Ilya Samsonov waiting in the wings, it's an acceptance that has just become about when and how and not if the Capitals current number one gets moved. The expansion draft could play into this as well, ala Marc-Andre Fleury. There have been no talks on a Holtby extension reported as of yet.

GM McLellan waisted little time in remolding the group to make another run. Gone is veteran and defense stalwart Matt Niskanen. In a cost-cutting move, the well-liked Niskanen (and his $5.75M cap hit for two years) was dealt to Philadelphia on June13th in exchange for hard-nosed defenseman Radko Gudas who has a cap hit of $2.345M saving some much-needed cap room.

When Nick Jensen was acquired at last seasons trade deadline, it was inevitable that he would essentially take over for Niskanen.

Some of that money saved was almost immediately spent as forward Carl Hagelin signed an extension for 4 years and $11M. At only a 2.75M per year hit you would have to consider that's a pretty good deal for a player whom the Caps have only just gotten to know. His speed and prowess on the penalty kill made this an important signing by the Caps. The PK has been at times atrocious over the last couple seasons.

The signing of Hagelin in all likelihood means a departure from Brett Connolly. Connolly will be seeking a long term deal and at a number I don't think the Caps can afford. Such is cap life.

Expect a Jakub Vrana signing any day now. This kid is going to get expensive one day and is a must sign this summer and will be a key player in the Caps top-six for years.

Devante Smith-Pelley and Dmitrij Jaskin have likely played there last games in DC and that may be true for Chandler Stephenson as well. For those that follow Hershey, it appears Riley Barber will not be back.

It's going to be very interesting what goes on with Andre Burakovsky as he is a RFA with a minimum $3.25 qualifying offer needed if the Caps want him back.

I also expect a two-year deal for Christian Djoos this summer though I think the jury is still out on the young rearguard. Hence the short term bridge.

The NHL Draft is on June 21st weekend and the Capitals will be picking 25th. This could be an active time potentially on the trade front for the Caps if GM Brian MacLellan past history is any indication. I would like to see the organization get a quality Centreman. Who knows, at this point, there could be scenarios where the Caps trade up.
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