By Chris Gordon
It looks like six more years of high-fives and tire changes are on tap. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
As all of you Brooks Laich fans kept hitting refresh instead of working Tuesday morning, the Capitals announced that the soon to be unrestricted free agent had re-signed with the team to the tune of six years and $27 million.
“There was never a serious consideration to go anywhere else,” Laich said. “The main core of this team is very young and if you can keep that together, you’re looking at a chance to win a championship for potently the next 10 years, rather than just a window of two to three years. That was a great motivator to get me re-signed.”
With an approximate cap hit of $4.5 million, Brooksie is in for a considerable raise from his previous $2.066 million per campaign salary. In fact, the 28 year-old is due to make more in the first season of his new deal than he did over his entire previous contact. Or, in other words, more than Nicklas Backstrom and just $200,000 less than Pavel Freakin’ Datsyuk will make next year. For a forward who tallied just 16 goals in 2010-11, it sure seems like a significant overpayment.
Laich brings more than just goals though. The versatile, two-way forward is a heart and soul player with skill to boot, on a team the often sorely lacks skaters willing to grind it out, explaining why the Capitals most likely overpaid for fear of losing that. What this means, however, is that Washington now has just under nine million in cap space remaining for 2011-12, according to CapGeek.com, with many players left unsigned (RFAs Troy Brouwer, Karl Alzner and Semyon Varlamov; UFAs Jason Arnott, Marco Sturm, Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon and Scott Hannan).
Maybe Uncle Ted wasn’t kidding after all when he said “don’t be surprised if you see some trades” on his blog. Unlike his owner, however, Capitals General Manager George McPhee wasn’t about to tip his hand and delivered terse remarks when it came to the cap. “We’re happy with where we are,” he said.
But no matter who in the dressing room come October, Laich is as focused as ever on his ultimate goal: hoisting the Stanley Cup.
“The regular season success has been great but now it’s time to take it to the next level which is the postseason and you have to learn that,” said the Wawota, Saskatchewan native. “It takes time for young players, young teams to learn how to win at that time and that’s obviously the next level for us. You just don’t make rash decisions based on one bad week of hockey.”
“I think this year, there’s got to be a lot more accountability amongst our players and to the coaches,” Laich continued. “You come back with one goal and that’s to win the Stanley Cup, and that’s what you work for all year long.”
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