Free Agency Frenzy Live Blog

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

The NHL’s free agency market opens today at 12 PM ET, which means that all unrestricted free agents can sign with any team and restricted free agents can be signed to an offer sheet. It’s gonna be wild.

I’m not expecting the Capitals to do much at all. There is even a chance they do absolutely nothing. If the team does sign a player or players tomorrow, likely options could include someone to play as a third line wing, another depth defenseman, or multiple AHL/NHL 2-way contract tweeners.

There are also some Capitals that could be finding new homes today:

Player New Team Contract
Jason Chimera, age 37 ? ?
Michael Latta, age 25 ? ?
Mike Richards, age 31 ? ?
Mike Weber, age 28 ? ?

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Photos From the 2016 Caps Alumni Game

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Photo: Washington Capitals

On Wednesday night, some of the best players in Capitals history (and Alan May) participated in the 2016 Caps Alumni Game to conclude Fanfest. Capitals greats Olie Kolzig, Denis Maruk, and Craig Laughlin joined fan favorites like Kevin Kaminski, and Matt Bradley, and Brent Johnson for a spirited game in front of a mostly full Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Former YoungStars Game MVP Brian Sutherby won the exhibition for Team White in a shootout.

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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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Photo: Mark Goldman

The Capitals announced on Thursday that they have agreed to a two-year contract extension with forward Tom Wilson. Wilson, who was selected by the Capitals 16th overall in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft, was scheduled to become an RFA on July 1. The contract is worth $1.75 million next season, and $2.25 million in 2017-2018.

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Photo: Washington Capitals

The Caps announced Thursday afternoon that they have signed depth forward Zach Sill to a two-year, two-way contract. Sill played 10 games with the Capitals last season after being called up from the Caps’ AHL affiliate Hershey Bears.

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

On Monday afternoon, checking-line forward Michael Latta was not tendered a qualifying offer, ending his tenure in Washington. Lats will become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

“We struggled with that one,” Barry Trotz said to Elliot in the Morning the next day. “He’s been a really good soldier for us. We felt with where the game is going, in terms of our team, with four centermen, Lats is best playing in the middle and right now we don’t really have a place for him. And plus we have a couple centerman, Travis Boyd and Chandler Stephenson, who have really stepped up from the minors. Their skill sets are a little different. They’re more about speed and skill. And Lats is more about the physicality and the grind.”

“We wanted to give him an opportunity somewhere else,” Trotz continued. “Lats has been exceptional as a teammate. A lot of his teammates are sorry to see him leave. But I’m hoping the best for Lats. He’s a terrific guy. He’s a guy’s guy and a great teammate.”

On Tuesday night, I spoke to Latta and he opened up about the team’s decision to not bring him back. He also discussed his time in Washington – a time he will remember fondly – and also spoke seriously about his close friendship with Tom Wilson.

He also had some very sweet words for Caps fans.

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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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On Tuesday night, a day after news broke that Michael Latta would not receive a qualifying offer from the Washington Capitals, I had a lengthy interview with the forward, who is now set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Latta told me that he was caught off guard by the team’s decision to non-tender him, but had nothing but good things to say about his teammates and his time in Washington.

“I was getting texts from everyone,” Latta said when the news dropped. “I wasn’t replying right away to [Tom], so he double, triple, quadruple texted me.”

“I think that’s one of the best things about hockey, the relationships you build,” Latta continued. “Tom and I obviously have become very close and will probably be one of my best friends forever. I’ll take a lot of good things from Washington, like the friendships I’ve built.”

Latta, who according to Hockey Fights has dropped the gloves 106 times in his professional career, will now look for a new team. He’s hoping to find a spot where he can bring energy every night and penalty kill. Depending on where he ends up, Latta could find himself playing against his former Caps teammates next year. It may get very awkward for fans.

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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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Day One of Caps 2016 Development Camp in Photos

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Photos: Amanda Bowen

The Washington Capitals opened their 2016 Development Camp at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday. Beyond Ilya Samsonov making his Caps debut, the day was rather uneventful, serving mostly as a warmup for a busy week ahead.

The morning session was split between forwards (white) on one rink and defense (red) on the other. There were more drills in the afternoon, none of which were too intense. It gave the the players a chance to bond and get to know each other better. (And also avoid getting caught as the first player off.)

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