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Photo: Minas Panagiotakis

When the Caps signed Tom Wilson to a deal for $2 million per season, it further lowered the hope that they’d have the cap space to sign a guy like PA Parenteau or Kris Versteeg when free agency opened on Friday. Instead, it became more apparent that if the Caps were going to do anything in free agency, they were going to sign a cheaper option for the bottom six, perhaps a veteran like Brad Boyes or Tomas Fleischmann. There were also a couple of younger players like Brandon Pirri and Brett Connolly who fit this mold of a cheaper, more under the radar option for the bottom-six.

The Caps landed Connolly.

Connolly is a solid addition to the Caps forward group. Connolly is a guy who brings a skill-based game and can slot in on the bottom-six. He’s a former first round pick, still just 24 years old, so he may still have some untapped offensive upside. He’s a viable option to play wing on the third line, but he’s also not such an established player that he’ll be a roadblock in the spot. So, he won’t potentially block a player like Jakub Vrana if Vrana turns heads at camp and forces his way into the opening night lineup.

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Assessing the Value of Tom Wilson’s Contract

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Photo: Patrick Smith

The Caps announced on Thursday that they re-signed not-at-all controversial right winger Tom Wilson to a 2-year deal that will carry a cap hit of $2 million. This may be hard to believe about a Wilson-related topic, but a lot of people had opinions about this deal.

The cap hit is a bit higher than I expected. Wilson carried a cap hit of $894,000 last season, so my eye-test guess was that he’d come in with a cap hit around $1.5 million.

Is the difference of $500,000 a big deal? Yes and no. Yes, it’s $500,000 less that the Caps have to use in free agency. They were already tight up against the salary cap so this further limits their flexibility. But also no, because a 25% payment above what I expected at $2 million isn’t all that big of a deal compared to a 25% over-payment on a deal worth significantly more.

In the end, the Caps seemed to have slightly overpaid for Wilson, but not so much that we need to serve up hot takes in response. Let’s take a look at why.

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Kris Versteeg: Free Agent Profile

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Photo: Harry How

Brian MacLellan has said the Caps intend to upgrade their third line this offseason. This is part of our series looking at free agents who the Caps may target.

We’re nearing the end of our free agent profiles, and today I present to you the holy grail. On July 1 Kris Versteeg will be a free agent, and he should be the Caps’ number one target. The only thing that could keep the Caps from signing Versteeg is his price tag. Bidding for his services may take it above what the cap-strapped Caps can afford. But, Matt Cane‘s salary predictions say Versteeg will get $2.6 million, which might be within the Caps range, depending on how negotiations look with the RFAs.

Let’s take a look at how awesome Versteeg is and why we’ll all take our shirts off and run around the block if the Caps sign him.

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Tomas Fleischmann: Free Agent Profile

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Photo: Dilip Vishwanat

Brian MacLellan has said the Caps intend to upgrade their third line this offseason. This is part of our series looking at free agents who the Caps may target.

“Hello, it’s me.
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.”

Yes, the Caps have “been there, done that” in terms of Tomas Fleischmann. But maybe, just maybe, they should revisit a reunion with the man we know as Flash. He isn’t the best option when it comes to free agent forwards, but given the reality of the salary cap, the Caps could do a lot worse than a player like Fleischmann to upgrade the skill-level of their third line.

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Steven Stamkos: Free Agent Profile

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Brian MacLellan has said the Caps intend to upgrade their third line this offseason. This is part of our series looking at free agents who the Caps may target.

We expect the so-called ‘window’ for a Caps championship to end after next season. While Brian MacLellan hopes to improve his third line this summer, one likely free agent out of Tampa could provide some help to Washington’s offense in their final push. His name is Steve Stamkos.

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Sussing Out Why the Caps Didn’t Bring Back Michael Latta

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Photo: Patrick Smith

News broke Monday afternoon that the Caps would not extend a qualifying offer to checking-line forward Michael Latta. The Caps had two options, submit a qualifying offer to Latta for $632,000 or let him become an unrestricted free agent come July 1st. The Caps chose the latter, while retaining the rights to RFAs Marcus Johansson, Dmitry Orlov, and Tom Wilson.

For many fans, the move to non-tender came out of nowhere. A few seasons ago, the Caps gave up a top prospect to acquire both Latta and Martin Erat. Latta remains an inexpensive player and his underlying play suggests he could bring value as an everyday player. On top of that, Brian MacLellan had indicated the Caps planned to qualify Lats, even after the Lars Eller trade Friday night.

Two days later, Latta was let loose and saying his goodbyes. Ian and Pat discuss the decision below.

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“It’s been fun, see you never,” Michael Latta tweeted to Andre Burakovsky in September.

After feeling “older and more mature,” the Burracuda moved into his own apartment, leaving the original Caps’ roomies, Latta and Tom Wilson, a brobean short.

Fast-forward to today and things have become harrowing. Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan non-tendered Latta, a restricted free agent, while tendering Wilson — metaphorically evicting Latta from the team. Talk about awkward. Latta will be free to sign with another team on July 1, breaking the lease between the Caps Roomies for good (at least physically in Arlington). Latta said his goodbyes this evening.

Wilson responded.

During difficult times like these, we must openly weep, become irrational, and eat buckets of Häagen-Dazs. And also: remember the good times!

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Prospects the Caps Could Select With Pick 26

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Photo: Derek Leung

The first round of the 2016 NHL Draft begins tonight at 7:00 PM on NBCSN. Before then, we want to be able to provide our readers with an idea of who the Caps could select with the 26th pick they currently own. These are profiles of some of the players generally ranked around that area.

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Brad Boyes: Free Agent Profile

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Brian MacLellan has said the Caps intend to upgrade their third line this offseason. This is part of our series looking at free agents who the Caps may target.

Today we set our sights on yet another former Toronto Maple Leaf who could fit the Capitals’ plans this summer. Brad Boyes, a veteran of 14 NHL seasons and a former 40-goal scorer is coming off a year in which he made Toronto  out of camp on a professional tryout contract after he was bought out by the Florida Panthers. Is he a fit for the Caps? I can already hear the shrieks of “No!” coming from Facebook, but let’s evaluate him before we make a decision.

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Darren Helm: Free Agent Profile

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Brian MacLellan has said the Caps intend to upgrade their third line this offseason. This is part of our series looking at free agents who the Caps may target.

Having spent the entirety of his career in Detroit, Darren Helm might be looking for a change of scenery. The speedy skater is coming off a four-year deal with a cap hit of $2.125 million. He’ll likely be offered a raise from several teams–and the Caps should be among them.

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