It’s time for a new Capitals mailbag! You can read Wednesday’s Part 1 here.
Check out Part 2 below.
Have a Caps question you want to be answered in the next mailbag? Send it on Twitter using #CapsMailNBC or by email to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com.
Please note, some questions have been edited for clarity.
Benjamin C. writes: So what do you guys predict will happen for the Caps this offseason? Do Brett Connolly, Andre Burakovsky and Carl Hagelin all leave? Do the Caps get Marcus Johansson back? What do you guys think?
Of Connolly, Burakovsky and Hagelin, the most likely to return is Burakovsky. Not only is he a restricted free agent meaning the Caps could simply qualify him and make this whole discussion moot, I think the team would have a legitimate shot at keeping him even if it chooses not to qualify him. This is the only NHL team he has ever known, he is good friends with Tom Wilson, there will be opportunity for him to move up the lineup and whatever the Caps want to give him will be comparable to what any other team would offer. I do not see him getting anything more than a “prove it” deal from anyone.
While the possibility exists for a guy like Connolly to possibly get second-line minutes, there are going to be teams out there who can offer him a bigger role and more money than the Caps and I think he is going to take that opportunity. As for Hagelin, I think his services will be in higher demand than one may think. Let’s not forget, Pittsburgh tried to get him back after trading him away to the Los Angeles Kings. There will be a market for a proven winner with great speed. The Caps essentially cannot get into a bidding war with pretty much anyone at this point so that does not bode well for their chances at keeping Hagelin.
I do not believe a Johansson return is all that realistic. If Washington trades Matt Niskanen, there may be room to add a $4-4.5 million player, but Johansson has dazzled in the postseason and is going to be in high demand. While there may be reported interest from the Caps, it won’t take long before Johansson is out of Washington’s price range.
Mitch B. writes: What do you foresee being the biggest offseason move for the Caps this summer?
Despite the fact that the Caps have no cap space this summer, I still expect them to be active. First, I do not see how the team can afford to not move salary and that means they are going to have to make a significant trade. Matt Niskanen is the most likely candidate and, while he had a down year in Washington, he would still be a top-four defenseman on most teams. Anytime you trade a top-four defenseman, that’s significant. Also, don’t be surprised if Brian MacLellan trades up in the draft. The Caps have to snag a forward this year and if we see a lot of forwards getting taken early, I would expect him to pull the trigger on some sort of deal.
Washington will need to add a third-line player and, assuming they trade Niskanen, they should have about $4 to 4.5 million to add a significant piece to the bottom six. Maybe that player is Connolly, but maybe it’s not. A $4.5 million may not be a superstar, but that would still be a significant signing. You can judge for yourself whether a trade or a signing would be bigger, but I foresee both happening this summer.
#CapsMailNBC even though its a while away, do you think the seattle expansion draft will be an issue for the caps?
— . (@DragonsAscent_) June 11, 2019
Yes, because it will force the Caps to pick between Braden Holtby and Ilya Samsonov in 2020.
Hotlby’s contract expires at the end of the 2019-20 season. He will be 30 and will want a big contract with term and probably a no-movement clause thus guaranteeing he cannot be taken by Seattle. If a player wants to sign somewhere long term, he wants some sort of guarantee he is not going to get moved, especially with an expansion draft looming.
As for Samsonov, he just finished his first season in North America and has not yet made his NHL debut. Looking for Samsonov to take over by 2020 is a lot to ask and we likely will not know if he is truly ready or not given the fact that he will likely start this season in Hershey again. It will just come down to what MacLellan feels Samsonov projects to be in the near future and for his career.
The decision on whether to go with Holtby or Samsonov must be made by 2020 because of Seattle. Teams will only be able to protect one goalie in the expansion draft so keeping both on the roster through June 2021 will mean Seattle will be able to take whichever goalie is left exposed. You do not sign Holtby long-term considering what it would cost without committing to him long-term and you don’t commit to him long-term if you believe Samsonov is knocking on the door.
Do the Caps re-sign Holtby and thus likely give him some sort of guarantee he will not be exposed to Seattle or do the Caps let him go in favor of Samsonov who is just 22 and who the team believes can be an NHL starter?
So we all know that Samsonov is a grade-A future NHL goalie, but do you think it’s possible that the Caps will trade him? Scenario could be: Another team offers up a young NHL-ready top-6 forward and some picks for Ilya. Caps then sign Holtby to a long-term deal. #CapsMailNBC
— Frank (@Cappie2020) June 5, 2019
It depends on what is offered. If Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can. The only reason why I think MacLellan could consider a trade like this, however, is seeing what has happened with the Penguins.
When the Vegas expansion draft happened, Pittsburgh had to choose between Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray. The Penguins ultimately elected Muray and Fleury soon became the Golden Knights’ first-star player. Since then, no one could argue that Vegas has gotten better goaltending. The good news for the Penguins is that Fleury is 34 and expensive with a $7 million cap hit for the next three seasons. Murray is only 25.
Even after watching Fleury lead Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final last season, I still believe the Penguins made the right decision in keeping a young starter over the aging and expensive veteran, but it is certainly debatable. If MacLellan feels confident Holtby is the better goalie and can still be a top goalie for several more years, I have to believe that means Samsonov will be on the trade block. The fact is that the Caps are going to have to choose between their two netminders by 2020 when Holtby’s current contract expires. With Seattle looming, Washington cannot simply offer Holtby a long-term extension just to lose him or Samsonov for nothing.
Thanks for all of your questions!. If you have a question you want to be read and answered in the next mailbag, send it to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com or use #CapsMailNBC on Twitter.
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