During interviews with the media, General Manager Brian MacLellan has routinely fingered the 2016-17 season as the Capitals’ last season in a two-year window to win the Cup. That’s because nearly half of the team’s roster will be due new contracts. TJ Oshie, Justin Williams, Daniel Winnik, and Karl Alzner will be unrestricted free agents on July 1, while Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly, Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt, and Philipp Grubauer are all restricted free agents.
With Brent Burns recently re-signing in San Jose for eight years, Karl Alzner is now set to become one of the top two defensemen on the 2017 UFA market. Nick Kypreos reported Saturday night during Hockey Night In Canada’s Headlines segment that Alzner could fetch a salary of up to $6 million per year on his next deal – a $3.2 million raise over his currently salary this season.
Ron MacLean: Now you have Brent Burns contract has just blown everything up again.
Elliotte Friedman: Eight times eight and it takes the best available defenseman in this summer’s free agent market off the market. So we’re talking about who’s next. I think there’s two guys. There’s Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner, who Nick will talk about in a moment.
I understand that last summer, there were two teams that were given permission to talk to Kevin Shattenkirk by St. Louis. I believe that was Edmonton and Arizona. The teams aren’t commenting. The agent’s not commenting. From what I understand that was the case. Shattenkirk wasn’t interested in Edmonton. Arizona did have some movement, but obviously not far enough to get a deal done. A lot of teams think Shattenkirk likes the Rangers, but they do think if there’s a bidding war there, it could push him up close to $7 million.
Nick Kypreos: So Elliotte, if you need offense, you go Shattenkirk. If you need a shutdown guy, you go Karl Alzner here. And if you’re now the Washington Capitals and you’ve got as many as 10 contracts expiring at the end of the year and one of them is Karl Alzner, you’re going to have some challenges here. The problem now is the price has been set for Karl Alzner is as much as $6 million… they believe… is going-rate for a top-four defenseman. They can’t go down that path. Not until you truly know what you want to do.
You mentioned Kuznetsov in our pregame show — I would have said last season at this time, he was a lock to get a long-term deal and be a fixture for the Washington Capitals. I’m not sure they’re convinced anymore. Until they really find out what their lineup is, you can’t sign a guy like Karl Alzner. People are telling me don’t rule out George McPhee and Las Vegas who’s got a history with Karl. Maybe he’s lurking there come July 1.
At the start of November, Friedman reported in his 30 Thoughts column that Brian MacLellan was planning to offer new contracts for Karl Alzner and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” MacLellan told Friedman. “We’re not sure what the dynamic is going to be. There are so many questions… how we do (this season) is going to answer a lot of them.”
Kuznetsov has struggled to open the season, tallying only three goals and six assists in the first 21 games. And the Capitals as a team had one of their worst performances of the year Saturday, a 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in which Braden Holtby called out the players.
Headline photo: Rob Carr
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