Former Capital Brendan Morrison Signs One-Year Deal With Flames

Brendan Morrison, who had 12 goals and 30 assists for the Capitals last season, has signed a one-year contract to play for the Calgary Flames.

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Capitals Offseason: Brendan Morrison Signs With Calgary Flames

Veteran center Brendan Morrison finally has an NHL home. The former Washington Capital has signed with the Calgary Flames, less than one week before the start of the NHL season. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Morrison will get $750,000 for one year of work.

Despite going 7-0 this preseason, the Flames have suffered a lot of injuries, making Morrison worth signing. Morrison had 12 goals and 30 assists for the Capitals last season.

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The Eric Belanger Story, From The Capitals' Perspective

It seems like we may never know exactly what happened between the Capitals and Eric Belanger earlier this summer. We've already heard how he feels about the way the Capitals treated him, and his agent Joe Tacopina has certainly made his feelings known. But now, we have the team's perspective from Mike Vogel, a writer for Capitals.com who posted another side of the story on his blog, Dump 'n Chase.

Tacopina and Caps’ assistant general manager Don Fishman began discussions on a Belanger contract in June. No surprise there, as Belanger had stated his intention to get a deal done before he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

One of the most fundamental parts of an agent’s job is to know the market and know how his client’s worth fits in with that market. Tacopina, who never spoke with McPhee at any point during the process, told Fishman that Belanger wanted a three- or four-year deal, minimum. The Caps countered with a two-year pact worth a total of $3 million. Remember, this was before Belanger was officially an unrestricted free agent, before he could negotiate with all 30 NHL clubs.

Belanger declined this offer. Obviously hindsight is 20-20, but given the contract Belanger signed yesterday, it seems like Tacopina had unrealistic expectations about his client's value. So what happened next?

During the week of July 12, the Caps checked in with the Belanger camp to see what was going on. Tacopina said he had some irons in the fire, but nothing his client was ready to jump on.

Washington wondered what kind of deal Belanger would take at this point. Told that Belanger would accept a one-year deal, the Caps inquired as to the dollars. Tacopina mentioned the $1.85 million figure. Washington said it could do that deal, but that it would need to move a contract in order to make it work internally.

The Capitals were still interested in signing Belanger, but they needed to clear some salary off their books before they could proceed. The two parties had mutual interest, and seemed to agree on the terms of a contract, but a formal agreement was never reached.

A month passed, bringing us to mid-August. The Caps told Tacopina that things were really quiet on the trade front, and that if they had something else they wanted to do with another club, they shouldn’t wait. If Belanger had anything else on the table at that point, it probably wasn’t as lucrative as Washington’s offer. Tacopina told the Caps they’d wait. At that point, the Belanger camp opted to leak news of the “deal” to a Canadian media outlet. Which is rarely a good idea.

If it was already hard for the Caps to make a deal, it certainly didn’t get any easier when the word got out that Washington reportedly had an agreement with Belanger, but couldn’t move forward without a corresponding subtraction from the roster and the balance sheet.

So when Tacopina leaked that information, it actually hurt the Capitals ability to sign his client. The Capitals were then unable to make a trade that would clear enough room to bring Belanger back. They offered him a spot in training camp, an opportunity to skate and stay in shape until a better offer came along, but he signed with Phoenix instead. And now we are hearing that both Belanger and Tacopina are upset with the way the Capitals handled things.

The two-year deal Belanger turned down in June probably looks pretty good right now. Tacopina is making noise of a lawsuit (as I understand it, the collective bargaining agreement severely limits the ability of an agent to sue an NHL team) but from this perch he stands a greater chance of being sued by Belanger than he does of successfully suing the Caps.

This article certainly portrays the Capitals as the good guys, and it can't be ignored that Vogel does receive a paycheck from the club. But given that Tacopina is a new agent, and Belanger is among his first hockey clients, it sounds more feasible that this is the way this all went down.

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Report: Eric Belanger's Agent Considering Legal Action Against Capitals

This Eric Belanger situation continues to get even messier. According to James Mirtle of The Globe And Mail, Belanger's agent, Joe Tacopina, is threatening "legal action" over the way the Capitals have treated his client.

"They should be ashamed of how they handled this situation," Tacopina said of [General Manager George] McPhee and [assistant general manager Don] Fishman.

"We're pursuing and evaluating our legal options in that regard."

According to Tacopina, the Capitals made a commitment over the phone to bring Belanger back to the team on July 16. As previously mentioned, this agreement was pending a trade that was supposed to have been completed that week. But according to Tacopina, that never happened, and it wasn't for another five weeks that Fishman reportedly told Tacopina that they should "move on" if they were "restless." Of course, by then, Belanger's family was entrenched in D.C., and his options had dwindled. 

The Capitals' response to Mirtle's article? Via Sky Kerstein of 106.7 The Fan:

The #Caps response to the James Mirtle article in the Globe and Mail "We never had a contract in place with Eric"    

Tacopina provided Mirtle a copy of a long e-mail he sent to McPhee on August 26. The full text is at the link above, but Belanger apparently even got a copy of the training camp schedule. It was that much of a given then that he was going to be on the roster.

Several player agents told The Globe And Mail that they never would have agreed to the arrangement Belanger's camp initially agreed to with the Capitals.

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Eric Belanger: 'It's Going To Be Hard To Trust Anyone Else For A While In This Business'

So new Phoenix Coyotes center Eric Belanger is steamed at the Washington Capitals. Why? He claims the team told him they would give him a new contract, just as soon as they could work out a trade to free up the money. Seven weeks passed, and that trade never came, so Belanger signed with the Coyotes.

But even on his way out, Belanger is not happy. He went on the The Team 990 in Montreal to talk about his experience, and had some pretty strong words directed toward the Capitals. When asked why he chose Phoenix, who gave him less money than several other teams, Belanger had this to say (emphasis mine).

You know, it's going to be hard to me to trust anyone else for a while in this business. But [Coyotes GM] Don Maloney has been very good to us, said the right things. There's new ownership that's probably going to be in place sometime in the next few months, and they want to keep the team here.  Like I said, if things work out, they're going to take about signing me to an extension.  This is a team that wanted to sign me long term earlier in the summer, but the money wasn't there because this organization is under the NHL, but if the new owners come in and things work out, there's a great possibility to sign a long-term deal.

If you're raising your eyebrows about the fact that Belanger is hoping for a long-term extension with Phoenix at the same time he's upset at the Capitals for reneging on their supposed agreement, then you're not alone. I just hope Belanger realizes that, yes, it is a business, and sometimes, trusting that business too much can be problematic. Not to defend the Capitals necessarily, but that's just how it goes sometimes. Verbal (or, more accurately, oral) agreements are not binding in any way. He couldn't have expected the Capitals would definitely complete the necessary trades to bring him back, just like he can't expect that the Coyotes will, in fact, give him that contract extension.

Other comments:

  • Belanger on the agreement with the Capitals:  "Yeah, [I had one] for over seven weeks. I have a lease on my house, my kids are enrolled in school.  We had a verbal agreement about seven weeks ago.  They said it would take about a week to make a trade. It wasn't a question of "if" they were making it, it was a question of "when."  [They said] 'You're going to be signed, but we didn't want to lose any leverage on the trade.'  And we all know the story after that.  I'm a loyal guy, but the line has been crossed."
  • Belanger on his feelings after the Capitals elected not to bring him back: "I'm trying to take all that energy and turn it into a positive one.  It's not an easy situation for me and my family.  Like I said, the line has been crossed when my family has been involved.  That's why I have a hard time swallowing it.  But like I said, I'm turning it into positive energy, and I have to do it all over again. I have to find a house, find schools, find babysitters for the kids, all that stuff. But you know what? My wife and I will put it in the past, everybody will be fine, and it a couple months, we'll probably look at it like it was the best thing that happened to us."
  • Belanger on why he signed in Phoenix: "I feel wanted by them in Phoenix.  They showed a lot of interest for a long time, and that's where I'm going to take them."
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Eric Belanger Signs One-Year Contract With Phoenix

Eric Belanger, who played 24 games with the Capitals last year, signed a one-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday.

Belanger was at times the third center for the Capitals, so this is not an incredibly devastating loss. The real story, according to Katie Carerra, is that the Capitals had an agreement with Belanger in place pending a trade, but that the club had to pull out of the deal when they were unable to complete the deal.

Last month, the Capitals appeared to have an agreement in place that would bring Belanger back to Washington, pending the completion of a trade. The team never confirmed that it had an arrangement with Belanger, and on Tuesday, Capitals General Manager George McPhee declined to comment while a team spokesman reiterated that Washington never had a contract agreement with Belanger.

Belanger's agent, Joe Tacopina, said the Capitals did have a deal to bring back Belanger and even helped him sign a lease for a house in Washington and enroll his two daughters in area schools.

The Capitals may be denying that they had an agreement with Belanger in the strictest sense. But it seems like they might have had a wink wink deal in place, otherwise there would be no reason for Tacopina to react like this:

"It's just disingenuous," Tacopina said. "Despite a two-way commitment and requesting Eric to commit to them and take himself out of the [free agent] mix, when they wound up not being able to make the trade several weeks later, they decided they couldn't sign him."

The loss of Eric Belanger might not hurt the Capitals too much in the upcoming season, but the team does not want to earn the reputation of one that breaks promises.

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Free Agent Defensemen Willie Mitchell Spurns Capitals, Signs With Los Angeles Kings

Needing another defensemen, the Capitals had their sights set on Willie Mitchell, a veteran free agent that hadn't been signed because of injury concerns. However, they'll have to look elsewhere, as Mitchell ultimately has decided to sign with the Los Angeles Kings.

Mitchell's contract is reportedly for two years and $3.5 million, according to KingsCast. That would have been a high price to pay for the Capitals, so maybe it's best they passed on him.

For more, visit Japers Rink.

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Report: Capitals Trying To Trade Tomas Fleischmann To Edmonton Or Vancouver

It seems like the Washington Capitals are doing everything they can to get rid of Tomas Fleischmann, at least if all the rumors out there are accurate. Sure, they were able to avoid arbitration and give him a one-year contract, but the hope seems to be that Fleischmann can be used as a trade chip to acquire a defensemen.

Now, reports out of Edmonton indicate the Capitals have added two more teams into the Fleischmann trade discussions. Peter Adler of the Edmonton Journal is reporting the Capitals have talked trade with the Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks.

The Washington Capitals are in talks with two teams, the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks, about moving forward Tomas Fleischmann, 26, who is coming off a career year, an NHL source says.

If Edmonton were the place, Sheldon Souray would be heading to Washington. If it's Vancouver, Kevin Bieksa would move from the Canucks to Washington.

Japers Rink's quick take on possibly acquiring Bieksa or Souray: 

"Maybe" and "hell no," respectively.

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Free Agent Defensemen Willie Mitchell Working Out With Capitals Today

As great as the Washington Capitals were last year, they did lack experience on the blue line. So far this summer, they've done little to address that issue, believing that their existing group can grow organically.

But that may soon change. Rumors have begun swirling about the Capitals being interested in former Canucks defensemen Willie Mitchell, who remains unsigned largely due to a concussion he suffered midway through last season. Today, the Capitals are working Mitchell out, according to CSN Washington's Corey Masisak.

UFA defenseman Willie Mitchell is at Kettler Capitals Iceplex today. #caps

Mitchell scored four goals and had eight assists in 48 games last year, but has only one had a negative plus/minus in 10 seasons in the NHL. 

For more, visit Japers Rink.

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Report: Capitals Re-Sign Eric Belanger To One-Year Contract, Looking To Trade For A Defensemen

Last season, Eric Belanger was one of several players the Capitals acquired at the NHL trade deadline. Now, it appears he's going to be sticking around, though everyone is being very secretive about it, according to James Mirtle from The Globe And Mail in Toronto.

According to multiple sources, free agent centre Eric Belanger has a one-year deal in waiting to return to the Washington Capitals. The contract is believed to be a slight raise over the $1.75-million he made last season, to $1.85-million.

What's interesting is that he has been told not to announce where he's going, leading to Belanger telling the French language newspaper Le Soleilon Wednesday that he is about to sign but can't say where due to the fact the team he's headed to is working on a trade.

Why is Belanger being so coy about this? According to Mirtle, it's because the Capitals are trying to work out a trade that would send a forward out for a much-needed defensemen. It appears that Tomas Fleischmann could be the bait, and the target could be Toronto's Tomas Kaberle. However, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke denied the rumors.

The one trade the hockey world is expecting in the next few days, meanwhile, is that of Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle, whose no-trade clause comes back into effect on Monday. While Washington was rumoured interested in him in the past, Leafs GM Brian Burke said they are not one of the 10 teams that have enquired about Kaberle's availability.

"We are not in discussions with the Capitals about Tomas Kaberle," Burke said. "Not once."

If that trade falls through, other targets could include Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa and Edmonton's Sheldon Souray. The Capitals are also front-runners for free agent Willie Mitchell, who has recovered from a concussion. 

Stay tuned...

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Capitals Trade Stefan Della Rovere To Blues For D.J. King

The Capitals have traded former 7th round draft pick Stefan Della Rovere to the St. Louis Blues for tough guy D.J. King, according to Capitals Insider.

King, a 6 foot 3, 230-pound native of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, has appeared in only 13 games the past two seasons. Two seasons ago, he suffered a shoulder injury in his first contest of the season and needed season-ending surgery, and last season he broke his hand in a fight with the Stars' Krys Barch, also in his first game of the season.

King was St. Louis' sixth-round draft pick in 2002. He's appeared in 101 NHL games, netting four goals, nine points and racking up 185 penalty minutes.

The decision to part ways with Della Rovere has come as a surprise to many Caps fans, as reactions over at SB Nation's Capitals blog Japers' Rink will attest. The prospect had developed somewhat of a cult following as fans raved about his leadership skills and grit on the ice.

As for King, below is a video of him breaking his hand in the aforementioned fight with Krys Barch. At least he clearly won.

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Caps, Tomas Fleischmann Reach One-Year Deal

The Washington Capitals and forward Tomas Fleischmann have avoided arbitration, which was scheduled for July 28, by agreeing to a one-year deal. According to Capitals Insider the deal is worth $2.6 million.

Fleischmann, 26, is coming off a career year in which he scored 23 goals and 28 assists for 51 points. However, for the third consecutive season he was a relative non-factor in the postseason, drawing the ire of Caps fans who wondered why he was getting so much ice time.

Whether he is the answer to the Capitals hole at second line center remains to be seen, but both the team and Fleischmann must be relieved to avoid an arbitration hearing that was destined to be anything from pleasant. Here's a simulation of what that might have looked like had it come to that, via Japers' Rink.

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Tomas Fleischmann's Arbitration Hearing Will Happen Tomorrow

The Capitals were unable to reach a contract agreement with Tomas Fleischmann, so as Tarik El-Bashir confirms, they will go to arbitration with the free agent forward tomorrow.

GM George McPhee said Caps are likely headed to arbitration with Tomas Fleischmann tomorrow. Says Don Fishman is already in T.O.

The only reason this is still "likely," is that the club theoretically still has an opportunity to sign him before the scheduled arbitration. But in reality, that has virtually no chance of happening.

Our Caps blog Japers Rink is doing a series where they argue both sides of the debate. Here's their best guess on the team's argument.

Tomas Fleischmann is a highly skilled, versatile player capable of playing all three forward positions and in any game situation.  He contributes to his team's success by scoring goals, acting as a playmaker, succeeding at even strength, on the powerplay, and in shorthanded situations, and by giving his coaching staff the option to move other players in to roles they are most comfortable with.  In doing so, Flesichmann also contributes by allowing his teammates to be put in a position where they will be most successful - an important addition that does not show up on the stat sheet.

We believe Fleischmann is a clear-cut, well-rounded, top-six forward in the NHL and that a 2010-11 salary of $3,150,000 would be fair to both player and team.

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Capitals GM George McPhee: The Team Is Done Shopping

According to Capitals' GM George McPhee, the team is done signing free agents this off season. Via  Tarik El-Bashir.

Asked if the Caps are "done" as far as free agent shopping, GM George McPhee nodded and said, "Yes."

So barring any trades, this will be the roster the Capitals will take into next season.

It would be hard to call the offseason an overwhelming success, but the team didn't make any bad moves and was able to re-sign key players while adding some organizational depth. Clearly they have faith in the team that finished with the regular season's best record just a few months ago.

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Capitals Bring Back Brian Willsie On One Year Deal

The Capitals continue to add players that will contribute both to the parent club and to the AHL affiliate Hershey Bears. The latest is Brian Willsie, whom the Caps signed to a one-year, two-way contract on Wednesday.

Willsie's name might sound familiar to die-hard fans, because this is not his first stop in Washington. Willsie played in the Capitals organization from 2003-06, scoring 29 NHL goals. He also played in the Colorado Avalanche organization last year, but he only played four games in the NHL, spending the majority of his time with their AHL affiliate, the Lake Eerie Monsters.

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Capitals Ink Eric Fehr To Two Year Deal

It appears that the Capitals' intentions are to keep the band back together. They haven't signed any significant new player in free agency and continue to re-sign the free agents who were on their roster last season. The latest is right wing Eric Fehr.

According to The Hockey News, the Capitals were again able to avoid arbitration by signing Fehr to a two year contract worth $4.4 million. Shortly after he signed the deal, Fehr tweeted this:

Happy to announce I'll be back for the next two years with the Caps! Can't wait to start back up!

The playoffs might not have gone as well as we may have hoped, but this was the best team throughout the last regular season. Maybe keeping them together is the way to go.

For more on the signing, visit SB Nation's Capitals blog Japers Rink.

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Why Jeff Schultz Is A Bargain For His New Contract

The reaction to Jeff Schultz's new four-year contract has been overwhelmingly positive, mostly because pretty much everyone feels the Capitals got a real bargain. Schultz will make $2.5 million in the first two years and $3 million in the final two years, according to Tarik El-Bashir. 

That doesn't sound like much, and it isn't. How do I know? Because according to CapsGeek, Schultz's deal is for less money annually than the average defenseman's salary for 11 NHL franchises. As the link notes, the average salary for the defensemen on the Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, Rangers, Red Wings, Flyers, Bruins, Penguins, Thrashers, Canadiens, Canucks and Blues is over $2.75 million.  

Schultz is way above average, so you can see why many feel the Capitals got a bargain.

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Report: Jeff Schultz Re-Signs With Capitals For Four Years, $11 Million

Last year, Jeff Schultz emerged on the scene as one of the better defensemen in hockey, as he finished first in the NHL in plus/minus rating. Knowing this, it only made sense that the Capitals wanted to keep him around for the long term.

It appears the Capitals have achieved their goal. According to Ryan Rishaug of TSN, the Capitals have agreed to a four-year, $11 million contract with Schultz.

11million over 4yrs for jeff schultz in washington.. Nice deal for schultz and the titan boys    

Had he not signed this contract, Schultz and the Capitals would have headed to arbitration. Instead, the Capitals will keep him at a bargain price, considering his age and accolades. 

For more on the signing, check out SB Nation's Capitals blog Japers Rink.

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Report: Capitals Re-Sign Reserve Center Boyd Gordon To One-Year Deal

Tarik El-Bashir is reporting that the Capitals have re-signed center Boyd Gordon to a one-year contract. Gordon played in 36 games for the Caps last season, netting just four goals and six assists.

Pierre Lebrun is now reporting that the contract is for $800,000.

It's not the biggest signing in the world, but it is important for the Capitals to maintain their depth. If the team isn't going to sign a number of players from outside of the organization this summer, they need to retain the free agents who were on the roster last year to make sure they have a full roster. 

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Why A Quiet Off Season Might Be The Smartest Play For The Capitals

After such a disappointing end to last season (I'm sorry for bringing it up, but I gotta set up some context here, stay with me), there has been some outcry for the Capitals to improve drastically over the the offseason. However, up until this point, they have not made any earth-shattering moves, and the team looks largely the same as the one we saw on the ice last year.

SB Nation's Capitals' blog Japers' Rink, thinks that right now for this team, no moves is good moves (sorry).

It's understandable for frustration to set in when teams all around us appear to be improving their rosters while the Capitals are content to merely watch from the sidelines. Some are even ready to send George McPhee packing if he doesn't do something soon; his "inaction" signaling to these fans that he has no clue what's wrong with this team or how to fix it. We don't see action so we assume McPhee is blind to the needs of the team and therefore useless.

But McPhee might end up being one of the smarter GMs this year for ultimately doing nothing.

There are a couple reasons why the Capitals are making the right decision by staying relatively still.

First, there aren't any players available that are capable of making a tremendous difference in next year's squad. Sure, there are guys getting paid like stars, but those are bad contracts stemming from a weak market. It's smart for the team to avoid those types of deals, mostly because of the impending free agency of big names like Brooks Laich, Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble and Matt Bradley next summer. We're going to have to spend a lot of money to keep those guys next year, and every dollar counts.

Secondly, the Caps would be bidding against teams with more resources and motivation to get a player. The teams overpaying for free agent talent have cap room to spend that the Caps simply don't have. They can't extend the type of contract offers that it would take to sign these guys, and frankly, they don't really have to. They were the top point getters last season, and while there are definite holes in the roster, there are young players (like Marcus Johansson, John Carlson and Karl Alzner) waiting in the wings to help plug some of those leaks. The teams that have made free agent moves don't have that luxury, and therefore more desperation to sign someone.

It's not the most exciting approach in the world, but it just may be the best one. While money is being thrown around to players who may not deserve it, the Capitals will likely field a team that is very similar to last year, a squad that most felt was good enough to compete for a Stanley Cup only a few months ago. In doing so, they'll maintain their flexibility and keep the door open for young talent that is already in the organization. Sounds good to me.

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Report: Eric Fehr Also Files For Arbitration

Tarik El-Bashir tweets that Tomas Fleischamnn and Jeff Schultz aren't the only two Capitals filing for arbitration:

Tomas Fleischmann, Eric Fehr and Jeff Schultz have filed for salary arbitration, I'm told.

Fehr notched 21 goals to go along with 18 assists for a career best 39 points last season, all in limited ice time. He made just under $800,000 last season and should be due for a raise through arbitration.

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Report: Tomas Fleischmann, Jeff Schultz File For Arbitration

Second-line center Tomas Fleischmann and defenseman Jeff Schultz have both filed for arbitration, according to TSN. Their hearings will occur sometime between July 20 and August 5, though the team could come to an agreement with both prior to their scheduled arbitration dates.

Both players were major cogs in the Capitals' remarkable season, but both (especially Fleischmann) struggled in the playoffs. Nevertheless, they are both due for a raise on their current contracts.

The 24-year old Schultz may end up with the biggest raise after leading the NHL in plus/minus this past season with a remarkable Plus-50.  He added three goals and 20 assists in 73 games, helping lead the Caps to the Southwest Division crown.  He earned just $715,000 last year.

Schultz's teammate Tomas Fleischmann should also be in line for a hefty jump in pay after scoring 23 goals and adding 28 assists in just 69 games last season while earning $725,000.

For more on the news, check out SB Nation's Capitals blog Japers Rink

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Islanders Sign Former Capital Milan Jurcina To 1 Year, $1 Million Deal

Former Capitals' defenseman Milan Jurcina has a new home. The Islanders signed him to a 1 year, $1 million deal Friday afternoon.

The move doesn't come as much of a shock, considering the Capitals have some up-and-coming talent on the blue line and Jurcina and his agent made it clear early in the off-season that they would test the free agent waters.

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Washington Capitals Sign Goalie Dany Sabourin

The Washington Capitals signed their Semyon Varlamov injury insurance policy last night, inking goalie Dany Sabourin to a one-year deal worth $525,000. Tarik El-Bashir has the details:

Sabourin, 29, spent the entire 2009-10 season the AHL, but has played in 57 NHL games, including a combined 43 in the 2008-09 and 2009-08 campaigns for the Penguins.

Sabourin can expect to see time at the NHL level if both Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth crash and burn this season.

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Capitals Will Not Pursue Nabakov, Other Goalies

As expected, the first day of free agency in the NHL has been a quiet one for the Capitals.

General Manager George McPhee has stated his confidence in the Capitals' current goaltending situation:

"We're going with our young goaltenders," he said. "We actually think this is going to be good for both of them because there isn't going to be the pressure on either one of them to play 65 games. It's an opportunity for both of them to play more games at the NHL level without the pressure of trying to carry the team.

Nevertheless, those who have followed McPhee closely over the years understand that he plays his cards very close to the chest. It should come as no surprise, then, that Evgeni Nabokov's name has come up in speculation on the Caps perhaps adding a veteran goaltender to their roster.

Pierre LeBrun warns that will not be the case, echoing McPhee's stated sentiments:

For people wondering about Nabokov as an option in Wash, not likely. Caps source says they're playing the kids in goal

For more coverage of the Capitals during free agency, head to Japers' Rink.

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Washington Capitals Not Expected To Make Big Splash In Free Agency

The NHL free agency period is about to begin, and it appears the Washington Capitals are going to be frugal shoppers this summer. Tarik El-Bashir from Capitals Insider reports that the Capitals are going to rely on the depth provided from the Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears to fill roster holes left by departing free agents. El-Bashir further notes that the Capitals most glaring need appears to be on the second line, where the Capitals need a new center to pair with Alex Semin. However, George McPhee believes that such an acquisition on the open market might cause buyer's remorse:

"We think we have centers that are ready to go," McPhee said. "There's Mathieu Perreault who's fairly close, if not ready to go. We like what we've seen from [Marcus] Johansson. A year from now [first-round draft pick Evgeny] Kuznetsov might be ready to play. Cody Eakin might be ready to go in a year. So we want to be really careful not get drawn into any long-term deals at that position. The issue is, are they ready this year or next?

"Rather than do a deal we don't like and come to regret it six months from now, we would probably be more inclined to go with our drafted players," he added. "And, in fact, they look a lot better than what's out there right now. Why wouldn't you play Perreault? He's a really talented young player."

McPhee also confirmed that the Capitals would start next season with their two young goaltenders - Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth.  Having performed well, McPhee believes that both deserve a shot to prove that capable of starting daily in the NHL:

"We're going with our young goaltenders," he said. "They're both 22 years old now and they've got a couple of years of pro under their belts. Varly's played two years at the NHL level and Neuvirth has won two Calder Cups and got an MVP. They're blue-chip prospects. It could become a real strength of our team and our organization.

"We actually think this is going to be good for both of them because there isn't going to be the pressure on either one of them to play 65 games," McPhee added. "It's an opportunity for both of them to play more games at the NHL level without the pressure of trying to carry the team. We think it's a great situation to be able to platoon a couple of very good young goaltenders."

This is not to say that the Capitals will not be making any moves this offseason. Several players have already been linked with the organization, including Saku Koivu and Matt Cullen, both players who could step into the second line center position. As it stands, the Capitals are about 4.5 million under the cap, a number that McPhee does not want to get close to:

"We don't have to spend it," he said. "You don't ever want to go into the season right up against the cap. Ideally, you put a good team on the ice and you have room."

I'm all for giving the youngsters some burn. Especially since they are less likely to choke.

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Capitals Make Qualifying Offers To 9 Players

All nine of the Washington Capitals' restricted free agents (RFAs) have received qualifying offers from the team, according to Tarik El-Bashir of Capitals Insider.

More specifics on the logistics of the offer sheet process:

By making a qualifying offer, the Caps retain the players' negotiating rights and the opportunity to match an offer from another team. If one of the RFAs does sign an offer sheet from another team, the Caps would be entitled to draft pick compensation.

The players have until July 15 to accept or decline the Caps' offer. But they can begin talking to other teams about an offer sheet tomorrow (though they can't sign it until July 1).

Four of the players the team extended offers to - Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleischmann, Jeff Schultz, Boyd Gordon - were regulars in the lineup last season, while the other five spent nearly the entire season playing for AHL affiliate Hershey.

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Capitals Will Not Re-Sign Jose Theodore

Following an emotional speech after he was awarded the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy at the NHL Award Ceremony in Las Vegas, Jose Theodore confirmed to Tarik El-Bashir that he will not be re-signed by the Washington Capitals this offseason:

"We had a good talk," Theodore said. "I enjoyed my time in Washington. Two great years. Winning percentage, stats-wise, it was fun to play for the Caps. But things in the new NHL, they are, they're going to go with the young kids [Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth] and I respect that."

"I have nothing but good words to say about this city, especially the fans and the organization," he added. "With the way I finished last year, I'm just looking forward to next season."

Theodore said he is willing to mentor a young goaltender but still believes he can be an effective starter in the NHL.

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Milan Jurcina Will Test The Open Market

Milan Jurcina will not look to sign an extension with the Capitals before the July 1 NHL free agency period begins, according to his agent.

Jurcina was traded along with former captain Chris Clark to Columbus last year for Jason Chimera, then returned to Washington in a separate trade in a deadline move by GM George McPhee. Because of a sports hernia injury, however, he never suited up for the Caps during his second stint.

Jurcina and his agent seemingly understand the logjam that exists on the Capitals blue line, with several proven veterans, as well as youngsters John Carlson and Karl Alzner, expected to compete for playing time next season.

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Tomas Fleischmann Negotiating Long-Term Deal With Capitals, Nothing Imminent

Tomas Fleischmann, a restricted free agent this off-season, has received a qualifying offer from the Capitals, according to Tarik El-Bashir. The offer would give him a slight bump in salary over last season, but Fleischmann is understandably looking for more.

Both sides are working on a long-term agreement that would keep the 25 year old in Washington past 2011, but Fleischmann's agent says they're not close to an agreement at the moment. If they can't come to an agreement, he says he will pursue arbitration in order to come to an agreement on a better one-year contract.

Though Fleischmann's agent did not say when he believes a deal will be done, he did talk about how he believes Tomas can demonstrate his value better with more opportunities at center:

"It will be interesting to see what the Caps do with Flash next year. When he was scoring all those goals he was playing center. They may have their second line center right there. ...If they leave him at center and give him a couple of wingers, he'll adjust to those guys and he'll figure it out. He's got the right skillset to do it. It's just a question of getting some experience."

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Shaone Morrisonn Has Had No Negotiations With Capitals

If Shaone Morrisonns's agent is correct, the 27-year old defenseman may have rocked the red for the last time.

Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post spoke with Morrisonn's agent Mark Stowe earlier today, and despite only two weeks remaining before Morrisonn becomes a free agent, Stowe has received no signs of interest from the Capitals.

"At this time, I've got nothing to report," Stowe said from his Vancouver-area office. "Normally if a club is interested there would be something happening. We've had discussions but there have been no negotiations happening. I would say based upon that, the interest is little to nothing at this juncture."

Morrisonn had one goal in 68 games for the Caps in 2009-2010, and was the very definition of a one-dimensional defensemen. After spending the previous season on the top defensive line with Mike Green, he bounced between partners this year, before winding up paired with Joe Corvo during the playoff run. Morrisonn was due for a raise from his $1.975 Million salary of the past two seasons, but it appears that he'll have to look elsewhere to receive it.

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Capitals Will Not Re-Sign Brendan Morrison

According to Tarik El-Bashir, who spoke with General Manager George McPhee, the Capitals will not re-sign 34-year-old center Brendan Morrison.

Morrison got off to a fast start with Washington but faded toward the end of the season, accumulating just 4 goals and 19 assists in 47 games from December to April. He was also scratched in Game 1 and Game 6 of the Capitals disappointing first round playoff loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

The loss of Morrison and uncertain future of Eric Belanger leaves a potential hole at the second line center position for the Caps.

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Caps, Eric Fehr Discuss Multi-Year Deal

According to Tarik El-Bashir, the Capitals and restricted free agent forward Eric Fehr are currently engaged in contract negotiations:

Caps and Eric Fehr are in discussions on a multi year agreement, I’m told.

This is good news for Capitals fans, as Fehr set career marks in several offensive categories. Via Japers’ Rink:

2009-10 was a breakout year for Fehr, as the former first round draft pick broke the 20 goals plateau, set career highs in goals, assists, and points, and enjoyed the healthiest season of his NHL career. But how good was Eric Fehr’s 2009-10 season? Consider the following: by scoring 1.50 goals per sixty minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, Fehr scored more often than every NHL forward other than Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Sidney Crosby, and Scottie Upshall. Fehr was no slouch in the assist department either, finishing sixth on the Caps in total assists per minute of 5-on-5 time, and fourth on the team – behind Ovechkin, Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom – in points per sixty minutes. Even more impressively, Fehr did it playing with the worst teammates of any non-fourth liner.

Fehr made $772,000 last season and is due for a pay raise, likely in the $1.5 to $2.5 million range.

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Jose Theodore Appears Unlikely To Return To Capitals Next Season

It was not a good end of the season for Jose Theodore. The veteran goalie was benched in the playoffs for Semyon Varlamov after two shaky games in the Capitals' first-round series against the Canadiens. Now, Theodore is a free agent, and it appears he's no longer in the Capitals' plans.

The Washington Post's Tarik El-Bashir talked to Theodore's agent, who said the Capitals have yet to even discuss a contract extension with his client.

The agent for goaltender Jose Theodore, who just completed his second season in Washington, said there have been no discussions regarding an extension for the 33-year-old unrestricted free agent to be.

"They haven't communicated with me at all," Don Meehan said this morning from his Toronto area office. 

Theodore finished 30-7-7 this season amid difficult circumstances after the death of his infant son in November, but at his age and with Varlamov's emergence, it's not a surprise that the Capitals seem to be moving on.

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Capitals Will Reportedly Not Pursue Anton Volchenkov

According to Tarik El-Bashir, who spoke with two sources familiar with the Capitals’ offseason plans, shutdown defenseman Anton Volchenkov will not be pursued by GM George McPhee:

The Caps “are not going to make him an offer,” one of the sources familiar with Washington’s plans told me.

While the identity of these sources and their credibility is unknown, Volchenkov’s desired salary – in the $4 to $6 million range – make him difficult to sign.

This report runs contrary to a previous rumor in which the Caps were a favorite to land the 6’1" 226 pound defenseman.

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Washington Capitals Offseason Chronicles: Corvo, Walker Won't Be Re-signed

George McPhee just got snubbed for the GM of the Year Award, but he's not sulking about it: He's taking action! That action, in this case, is informing last year's trade deadline acquisitions, Joe Corvo and Scott Walker, that they won't be re-signed this offseason:

"They were great, but we can only carry 23 when the season starts," McPhee said.

Corvo finished the playoffs with a goal and an assist and a plus/minus of minus-2. The veteran had two goals and four assists and a minus-4 rating in 18 regular season games.

Walker, meantime, suited up for just one game in the playoffs and did not record a point. He played in nine games during the regular season because of injury and finished with two goals and an assist.

Actually, I suppose you could construe that he actually is sulking about it by cutting unsuccessful players, but let's not go that route.

Corvo and Walker, two veterans that were supposed to add the "grittiness" that the Caps were lacking, were acquired for a grand total of Brian Pothier, prospect Oskar Osala, a second-round pick and a seventh-round pick. The Caps will probably be in the market for some new, grittier vets this offseason.

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