NHL insiders are reporting that the Washington Capitals are open for business ahead of the Friday, March 3 trade deadline and the organization is currently trying to figure out which unrestricted free agents will remain. The Capitals have only one defenseman signed into next season, John Carlson.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting on Twitter that the team was in contract talks with pending UFA defensemen Nick Jensen and Erik Gustafsson as of last week.
The Caps as late as last week were still having contract talks with pending UFA D Nick Jensen and Erik Gustafsson. Of course, they were also talking contract with Dmitry Orlov… wonder if they still try to sign Jensen or Gustafsson, or trade one or both now…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 24, 2023
Jensen has been a mainstay in the Capitals’ top four since arriving from the Detroit Red Wings ahead of the 2019 trade deadline. Jensen has posted career highs in both assists (22) and points (24) this season.
Gustafsson, who signed a one-year, $800k contract over the offseason, has skated on the team’s first pairing much of the year with John Carlson out and has provided great value, having his biggest season pro since his breakout campaign in 2018-19 with the Chicago Blackhawks.
One of the defenders that will not be returning is Dmitry Orlov, who the team dealt along with Garnet Hathaway to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night for draft picks. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman explained on Friday that he believed the deal was consummated because the Capitals and Orlov were years apart on a possible contract extension.
Friedman said on the 32 Thoughts podcast:
I think they’re listening yes. I think they’ve made it very clear they’re willing to listen on their UFAs. If you’ve got some ideas, send it Brian MacLellan’s way. You can send it by text. You can send it by Signal. You can send it by telegram. You can send it by fax. You can send it by email. Just send it Brian MacLellan’s way.
Look, I think they’ve tried to sign some guys. I think they tried to sign Orlov. I heard that the issue there was term. I don’t think Orlov was looking for eight years, but I think he was looking for close. I just don’t think the Capitals were willing to go much beyond three or four. As a matter of fact, I would be shocked if they were willing to go beyond four at all. So that’s one thing.
I think they’ve talked contract with some of the other guys you mentioned. I think they’ve talked on some level with Gustafsson. I think they’ve tried to figure out van Riemsdyk a little bit. I wonder, now that Orlov’s gone, do you continue to move down your list? Okay, who’s next?
So I think he’s doing both. I think he’s trying to see who’s willing to re-sign, what the numbers are, does it make sense? Yes: we’ll do it. Look: he did it with Milano and with Strome. Does it make sense? No: then I’ll make a move.
Later in the podcast, Friedman said the first and third round picks were for Orlov and Craig Smith and the second round pick was for Hathaway.
Orlov, 31, is in the final year of a six-year, $30.6 million deal he signed ahead of the Capitals Stanley Cup season of 2017-18. He made $5.1 million annually.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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