Hey fellow Caps Fans and other assorted readers - how ya been? For me it's been a month since my last blog post and three full weeks since the Capitals season ended, ignominously with a 5-0 defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers that followed a 1-0 defeat at their hands in the prior game. Coming to terms with six straight periods of scoreless hockey at the hands of "King Henrik" hasn't really been the reason for my hiatus, I understood that prety quickly. However letting the Rangers dominate them 5-0 in a game seven was a bit harder to understand, though a week of great fishing in the out islands of the Bahammas made that all a very distant memory so that wasn't th issue either. Now not knowing what to say or add to the discourse on the overall 2012-2013 Washington Capitals and their season, that was and remains the concundrum I find myself in. But hey, the good news is I do this stuff for fun, and when it stops being fun I can either stop doing it or change what I'm doing - like going fishing, so that's what I did. Now I'm looking ahead to the 2013-2014 Caps season and watching the remaining four teams in the running for the Stanley Cup battle it out. And that's starting to be fun again.
So looking at the Caps let me say, I'm excited with the way the Caps geled at the end of the season, and I like the way the Caps now play under Adam Oates and his coaching staff's system. Doesn't change my perplexion at the way the season ended but for the Capitals Organization and we fans, its time once again to move on and look forward. In the near term that means the resigning, or not, of Free Agents - Unrestricted and Restricted; and the NHL Draft. The Capitals had 10 guys under contract in 2012-2013 who are now unrestricted free agents:
Michael Carmen - you too are probably saying "Michael who" so I have attached a link to his Hershey Bears bio. He was picked up from the Avalanche in a trade of minor leaguers in February 2012 and from what I can tell is unlikely to be resigned by any NHL team at this point, though I wouldn't be surprised to see him continue his professional career in the "A" or Europe next season.
Joey Crabb - another guy from what I can tell is an easy no resign decision, at least for the Capitals the way he was handled and ended the season. Don't get me wrong I like the grit Crabb brings and I believe he'll end up signed somewhere next season, I just cannot see it being Washington.
Matt Hendricks - to me "Hendy" is a definate guy to resign and I believe he'll be back with a contract similar to the one that Eric Fehr signed (two years at 1-1.5M/year).
Patrick McNeill - if you haven't followed McNeill's career thus far I can't really fault you, to say his development has progressed slower than the Capitals hoped since he was drafted by the Capitals in theofourth round of the 2005 draft would not be understatment, but from my perspective he's worth keeping the 27 ear old around at least another year at the NHL Minimum and assigning him again to Hershey. Especially since I think we'll be seeing some moving and not resigning of Poti and Schultz this off season.
Tom Poti - it was great to see Poti back from what for most would have been a career ending injury but the Capitals just cannot and should not resign him this upcoming season, and personnally I expect to see the 36 year old d-man retire this off season assuing he doesn't get any significant interest in signing him for $2+M/year elsewhere around the league.
Ryan Potulny - the Capitals signed the 28 year old Center as an Unrestricted Free Agent in July 2011 and since then he has been playing in Hershey, he's 6-0 and 182# and has had two pretty solid seasons in Hershey, he is likely to be resigned at the end of offseason if he's still around and a roster spot is available for a league minimum and that seems like a fair thing to do. Who knows he could be another Matt Hendricks kind of guy.
Joel Rechlicz - this another guy definately worth giving another year and another shot - he's just too much of a charachter and with way too much grit to not see if he can't stick as a grinder somewhere in the NHL, sorry i know I'm a softee for guys like this but that's me.
Mike Ribero - I've made no secret of it, I think in order to continue to maintain thebalance they have and the ability to be a "four line team" the Capitals need to resign "Ribz". The question at hand is that really possible. If they don't resign Ribero then the Caps need to go after either Patrik Elias (unlikely that would work or be cheaper), Michal Handzus (also likely to be no easier or cheaper to sign than Ribero) or they could take a flyer on a promising guy whos been somewhat erratic like Tyler Bozak or Nik Antropov and hope it works out. Personnally, like I said, that's all why i think the Capitals need to resign Ribero but both the term and the amount have to be something both sides can live with and currently that agreement hasn't been reached.
Dany Sabourin - two words on resigning Sabourin - Philipp Grubauer.
Wojtek Wolski - I just can't see Wolski returning or the Capitals pursuing him in any sort of aggressive fashion. Though only 27, the 6-3, 215# LW from Poland hasn't really had a season that showcased his talent or potential since the 2009 - 2010 season that he split between Phoenix and Colorado.
So of the ten (10) UFA's, I'm suggesting the Capitals resign five of them: Hendricks, Ribero, Rechlicz, Potulny, and McNeill. That would be a good offseason for GMGM with regard to UFAs but if he doesn't resign Ribero, then he needs to sign a player with similar potential and talent as the second line center.
On the restricted free agent ledger, the Capitals have two unsinged. Karl Alzner - that's a no brainer. He needs to be the first signing of this off season and I'd guess he, his agent and GMGM are talking to make that happen. The second is Marcus Johansson, for the right price, MoJo should be resigned. The reality though is the decision to resign him cannot be a "no brainer" - his offensive production to date and his size make it a decision worth "mulling over" but he is only 22 and is likely to continue to develop over the next 3+ seasons.
Resigning Hendricks, Ribero, Alzner and Johannsson still leaves the Capitals - how all this happens with a healthy Brooks Laich and even thinking about retaining Jeff Schultz is likely an impossibility under next seasons salary cap but I'll continue to ponder and muse on that one.
LETS GO CAPS!!!