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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