Photo: Jared Silber
Brace yourself. This news may make you feel super sad. According to The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, 34-year-old winger Joel Ward appears likely to test the free agent market on July 1st.
Sounding more and more likely Joel Ward hits unrestricted free agency on July 1. Searching for four years. GMBM's spoken about the term gap.
— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) June 22, 2015
Ward is a few weeks away from completing the four-year, $12 million contract he signed with George McPhee in 2011. Ward had a career year in 2013-14 scoring 24 goals and 49 points. Last season, Ward was fourth on the team in goals (19) and led the Capitals in playoff points (9). Nearly half of his career goals (97) have come in his last two seasons (43).
With a weak market for free agent forwards, Ward is looking for a four-year deal and could likely command a raise from his $3 million salary. He has maintained that he wants to stay in Washington.
Speaking to Sportsnet 590 on May 15, Ward said, “I’d love to stay. I had moments where I thought we could go all the way with this group. I’d definitely like to stay, for sure.”
Meanwhile, CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley believes Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan “is likely seeking a two-year deal for Ward and would be hesitant to give him more than $3 million a season.”
“I think you see guys in this league that are cognizant of wanting their team to remain competitive,” says MacLellan, in an exclusive interview. “I saw quotes from [Aneheim center Ryan] Getzlaf that him and [teammate Corey] Perry were aware of not going for the maximum dollars that they could have gotten. They wanted a good contract, and they probably could have pushed and gotten more but they didn’t want to have an adverse impact on their team.
“I don’t think that changes with third-line guys. Hopefully I can articulate to the player and the agent that, ‘Here’s our team and here’s how much we have to spend. We’d like to have you back, and here is how it fits. Maybe you can get more in free agency, and if that’s the way you choose to go, that’s the way you choose to go.’”
All of this evidence points to Joel Ward departing this summer, which, like I said before, is a sad thought to entertain.
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