Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Can Never Have Enough, But...

Is Boyd Gordon an odd man out in DC?
With the news on Tuesday morning that the Capitals had re-signed forward Brooks Laich to a six-year, $27 million contract, Washington locked up their best two-way player for the next half-decade.  They secured a fan favorite and a home-grown talent who has blossomed in his time in the Disctrict.  But perhaps most importantly, they sent a clear message: the time is now.  By both acquiring multi-faceted talent Troy Brouwer on draft night for their first-round pick this year and re-signing Laich, the Caps have made a statement as an organization that they are going for it now.
These are the kinds of players you win Cups with.  George McPhee knows that. Look at Boston and Chicago - up and down, their rosters are full of speed, grit, and two-way ability, possibly the best combination of a player you can ask for other than a guy like Alex Ovechkin.  Both of these roster moves were huge steps forward in terms of adding character.  You can never have enough of players like Brouwer and Laich.
But...these two deals will likely tie up between $6.5-$7 million in salary cap space for however long Brouwer signs on (assuming he does).  It's alot of money in two non-elite scorers or defensemen.  That leaves around $6-6.5 million in space left. Now, that's a problem, considering the other free agents that Washington has this offseason.  This numbers crunch is almost certain to drive out Scott Hannan, Marco Sturm, Jason Arnott, and Matt Bradley.  That leaves Semyon Varlamov, Boyd Gordon, and Karl Alzner.
Alzner has to stay, no matter what.  He and John Carlson are solid gold together and are the Caps' top defensive pairing by a mile.  The Capitals cannot afford to let him go, and they know that.  Thankfully, it seems as though Alzner wants to come back based on comments he made at the end of the year, and that he will take some sort of pay cut to stay in Washington.  I think that he'll get somewhere along the lines of 4-5 years, $10-12 million, which is reasonable.  That leaves around four million...
Which brings us to Boyd Gordon.  Because the Caps traded David Steckel to get Jason Arnott, he is the only faceoff man that DC has, and one of their top four penalty killers.  For a team that has changed to a defense-first philosophy in the last year, Gordon is an invaluable role player.  And again, I'll bring up the faceoffs, which are huge.  You may laugh, but do you want Nicklas Backstrom taking a d-zone faceoff against Sidney Crosby in the final minute of a playoff game?  Yeah, me either.  Gordo made $761,250 last year, and is due for a small raise based on his good season last year.  I think he'll get around $1 million per year for three years.  That leaves around three million...
Which brings us, finally, to Semyon Varlamov.  The young Russian goaltender is receiving lucrative offers from the KHL in his homeland, but so far seems committed to remaining in the NHL, even if it's not with the Caps.  If he comes back, he will be given every opportunity to win the starting job and, if he can stay healthy, probably has a good chance at succeeding.  And if he signs, it likely won't be on a one-year deal as that would eliminate his restricted free-agent status (for more on this, click here).  But in the end, I think a two-year, $5-million deal could be settled upon.  Which leaves us with (roughly) a relatively flexible $1 million to play with.

Of course, this is all purely speculation, and I could be completely wrong.  But this is going to be a very interesting week, and the situation bears very close watching.
Thanks to the website Capgeek for salary information.

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