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Fight for Old DC is a blog covering all sports in and around the District. Main focus will be on the Capitals, Redskins, Nationals, Wizards, United, and Hokies (I know they aren't DC, but it's my alma mater). Enjoy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Examining the Salary Cap for 2009-2010: Forwards

Image Courtesy of PennLive

With Friday’s announcement that the NHL salary cap has been increased to $56.8M for the 2009-2010 season, I figured it’s a good time to look at the Capitals cap situation and options for free agent signings come Wednesday. Today and tomorrow we’ll look into committed money and options within the organization moving forward. Then we’ll tackle all those other guys out on the market. All values may not be exact but were based on figures from Keep in mind that a cap number for a player is based upon their average salary, not just their salary for that particular season. For example, Mike Green’s salary last year was $6M but his cap hit was $5.25 because he will earn that average for the duration of his contract. Positions are based upon their primary position under Boudreau’s system.

Forwards Under Contract for 2009-2010 Season




Cap Number (in Millions)

Ovechkin, Alex




Nylander, Michael




Semin, Alexander




Clark, Chris




Backstrom, Nicklas




Laich, Brooks

C (W)



Bradley, Matt




Fleischmann, Tomas




Steckel, David






Returners: Looking at the forwards we have signed through next season, there are only nine returning NHLers from last year’s roster. Notable missing pieces that will not return from the normal 12 starters are Sergei Fedorov (2nd line center) and Viktor Kozlov (1st-ish Line Right Wing). Backstrom is cemented as the team’s long term first line center while Boudreau believes that Brooks Laich could fill the role of a regular second line center if called upon. Bradley and Steckel proved that they could step up into larger 3rd line roles next season during the playoffs, but Fleischmann proved that he can possibly be expendable with his lack of willingness to go to the net when needed. The only sure things out of this group are Ovechkin and Backstrom on Line 1, Semin starting at one of the wings on Line 2 and Steckel at pivot for Line 3. Barring a major comeback from Clarkie next season, the Caps will need to find a serviceable first line right wing, so look for about 7.5M to be tied up in seldom used #17 and #92. Also keep in mind that Semin and Backstrom are RFAs next July, so McPhee is also looking to ink extensions for them in the coming months.

Unsigned: The big names on this list are Donald Brashear, Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, and Chris Bourque. George McPhee seemed to make it very clear that the Caps would not be pursuing a new deal for the leagues most well-known tough guy in Brashear. It looks as though Alex Semin will have to protect his own back next year or count on Matt Bradley’s amazing fighting prowess to scare away all takers. Look for Gordon to be resigned as one of the teams most reliable players at the dot and on the penalty kill. He’ll be slotted in on the 4th Line. The question marks come with what the team feels that they have in Fehr and Bourque. Fehr had a very underwhelming 2008-2009 with a hot streak thrown in the middle. He has shown flashes of physicality and aggressiveness that the team needs from him, but most of the time he seems too content to let other players bear a brunt of the scoring load. Bourque has tons of potential but hasn’t yet translated it to the NHL level, and his name has been included in trade rumors for the last few months or so. Fehr’s value is a little higher considering the organization is much lighter on right wings right now, but I expect for both to be resigned. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bourque thrown in a deal to bring in a veteran pivot or winger with a little more size.

Cap Outlook: Heading into next season, the caps have 9 NHL forwards signed and over 25% of that $28M salary committed to players that have made minimal organizational contributions in the past two years (Nylander and Clark). The two main priorities entering free agency are acquiring a big, skilled winger, and an experienced second line center. McPhee may feel he has an answer for the latter in Brooks Laich, but it seems to be too much of a gamble to leave the former in the hands of either Fehr or Clark. Unfortunately without finding a way to dump Nyles (and his big fat wasted salary), the money will be limited in trying to bring in a free agent. The front office will also be cautious about signing any center beyond two years with Anton Gustafsson and now Marcus Johansson in the prospect pool. The most likely outcome is filling one of these spots with a free agent and another with a trade, probably involving Bourque, an extra defensemen (tune in tomorrow for more on that), or maybe a Fleischmann or Fehr (or a combination of the three). The wild card within the organization could be Oskar Osala (6’4”, 217 lbs.). Osala impressed scouts last year with his physicality, and if he gets a shot with the big club this season (which is very iffy at this point), he could be the physical forward they need to line up opposite the GR8 sooner rather than later.

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