MattHendricks

Hendy high-fives fans as he walks down the tunnel to the Capitals locker room. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

Matt Hendricks is a beloved player in Washington, but by no means is he an essential one. The Caps know that, and he knows that. With his two-year, $1.65 million contract expiring on July 5, he may have played his last game as a Cap. Hendricks, though, hopes that’s not true.

“I hope I don’t get to that date in July,” he said Wednesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex as the team cleared out their lockers. “I hope I’m back here in Washington.”

“We’ve been in the negotiating process over the course of the season,” Hendricks added. “It’s a business. It’s a big part of the business. You want to get what you feel you deserve and what you feel is right.”

Hendricks’s agent Michael Wulkan, for what it’s worth, didn’t reply to a request for comment.

The Capitals don’t have a ton of room to work with as things stand now this offseason. Washington has about $5.6 million in cap space, but they also have Mike Ribeiro, Karl Alzner, and Marcus Johansson to sign — things they’ll likely be more focused on. Grinders, too, can easily be replaced through the organization and if necessary the free agent market. And Hendricks isn’t an integral player on the ice, however fond fans and teammates are of him.

So Matt Hendricks is done in DC, right? Perhaps not. As a reporters asked one Capital after another about the 31-year-old forward, the players continued to give the same answer: it’s not just about how he plays, it’s about how he makes others play. Hendricks, they say, is vocal in the locker room. He pushes his teammates to do better and, in turn, they do. He’s always out there, at practice or in a game, whether he just got hit in the face with a puck or not.

“He’s a total package player,” his friend and fellow fourth-liner Jay Beagle said. “You need those guys on your team, those role players.”

Of course, intangibles are hard to quantify — they are after all not tangible. But if Hendricks can make the people around him give more and play better, maybe that’s worth an extra hundred grand or two a year. How George McPhee feels about that, though, is unknown.

There is another thing that might help keep Hendy around: his wild symphony of exaggerated dekes and leg lifts when five minutes of overtime isn’t enough.

“He’s got that shootout move that not many guys can do,” Beagle said. “I’ve tried it, I can’t do it.”

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  • swhirly

    If Hendy leaves, I will be as inconsolable as Peter over MB10.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I’m still in mourning.

  • swhirly

    Exactly.

  • Dman

    Alzner is our top priority by far. He was great this year and is our best defenseman. Would like to see us lock him up for 4 years or more. Mojo should be resigned too cause he’s an RFA.

    As for UFAs, wouldn’t mind seeing Ribs back, but nothing more than a 2-3 year deal. If he doesn’t accept that, he can have fun signing with a scrub team like Buffalo or Florida. I love Hendricks, one of my favorite on the team, but truth is, he’s a replaceable player. We should sign him but only for a low price.

    Would like to see some of that cap room go towards a top 4 defensemen, we need one badly. There aren’t many on the market though. Streit and Hainsey are the only ones to come to mind.

  • lrhflute

    Hendy better return!! It’s the intangibles that make a team fun to watch! And I love his heart and grit! I hope he stays!!!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I adore Hendy, but the Latta/Mitchell era begins next season, and they will be just as loveable.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    The Wagon rules. He’s going to earn a terrific payday this summer, and it’s a bummer that it won’t be in DC. The Caps can probably find an $800k player to replace his output.

    I love to watch his shootout stuff, but that’s not a reason to keep a guy around. Nor is fighting.

    I’m so glad that there’s a generation of Caps fans now who think of Hendy the way I do of Bradley.

  • Alex

    I think he’ll be sticking around… Ribs wants a 4-5 year deal, and implied that he’d be willing to take a pay cut to get it.

  • Hendybobendy26

    I will follow Wagon number 1 anywhere! Ill always be a Caps fan, but Hendy will always be in my heart where ever he plays!

  • swhirly

    I actually got Brads number on my caps license plate tags. So consider me multi-generational when it comes to loving the grinders. Knowing your role, being happy in it, and the occasional swoop in to save OV’s knuckles sure does make you love a guy.

  • http://twitter.com/MedicChick Catherine Gardner

    I miss Professor Bradley.

  • http://twitter.com/dylanwheatley83 dylan wheatley

    should we sign streit we’d have a team with three homophonic last names for the pun writers at nhl.com to play with

  • http://www.facebook.com/Butters.73 John Lindner

    5.6 Mil to those 4 could be broken down to Ribs 2mil, Alz 1.3, Hendy 1.3 Mojo 1mil.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    I doubt Ribeiro takes that significant amount of a paycut. His yearly salary will probably hover in the 4mil. range. Even if so, all it would mean is GMGM signs another Wolski, Hillen, or Crabb.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Love Hendy, but he was a total non-factor in the playoffs. I blame Oates for that though. Volpatti had great chemistry with Hendy and Beags, and once Oates took AV out of the lineup, that line lost its spark. Appreciate all that Hendy has done though, just like Brads. Two hard-working grinders who had to shed a lot of blood and black eyes and the last two players consistently willing to stand up for their teammates. They deserve better.

  • yv

    GMGM have mentioned that they have plan how to deal with contracts and signing. Would be interesting to see what it would be.
    By sitting for so long it seems definite that one way or another 2,75M$ would be also off the Caps book. This means around 8.5M$ to sign and to fill 4 remaining spots, barring trades. With some additional tweaking it can be done, especially considering that because of falling salary cap, a lot of players will offer their services for less money.

  • scarey

    What will Beags do without his smoothie drinking buddy? I will have a tantrum if Hendy doesn’t get resigned. He’s awesome.

  • 26Fan

    No doubt. Matt’s locker room and bench presence makes him a keeper.

  • OlietheGoalie

    Love the Paralyzer. A lot. If only because of his fakeout of Timmy during the playoffs that will forever be etched in my memory.

  • pixiestix

    can we start a kickstarter project to keep hendy? i have nothing but respect for the hard work and heart and humor that he brings to the team. we NEED hendy!

  • ChuchutrainLA

    I feel like Carlson was on the ice on more goals against then Holtby, plus last time he hit someone in the D-zone…well…I don’t even remember when that took place…

  • Akay15

    And Timmy trying to slap the puck out of his net after that and whiffing big time.

  • JenniferH

    I don’t want to lose Hendy. :(

  • Adam Johnson

    I don’t think I could handle Hendricks leaving. He’s such an awesome leader on the ice that I believe the Caps need him. But if they can’t afford him then he’s got to move on, which would be quite unfortunate.

  • serpent

    Jeez! the team is down enough already . Take out Hendy and you break a lot of hearts around here. There are some on the team who just take up space. THEY are the expendables .

  • OlietheGoalie

    Also, just look at that face! How can you not love that goofy kid?

  • CDizz

    NO. We let Matt Bradley go. Then MB10v2.0 AKA Hendy came in and soothed my sad wounds. If we let Hendricks go, I will break so much stuff. Most of it won’t even be mine.

  • CDizz

    Loved Bradley sooo much. Hendricks is so much like him, except with more overall skill. We can’t let go of another complete heart&soul guy.

  • CDizz

    That wasn’t in the playoffs – there are no shootouts in the playoffs, silly.

  • capsfan2006

    CUT ERAT

  • nicoley-poley

    Why is it that we’re not sure if Matt Hendricks–a super hard worker, a motivator, and a dude with the nickname of the /Paralyzer/–is returning next year, yet Aaron Volpatti–who has scored one goal, one assist, and recorded 35 penalty minutes in the 33 games he’s played this year–gets to sit comfortably with a two year, $1.15 million contract?