The Capitals Free Agents: Who to Sign, Who to Cut, and Who to Beg

WINE ‘EM DINE ‘EM AND SIGN ‘EM.


Braden Holtby 

braden-holtby-on-new-gm-coach-5-27-14-thumbnail

The Gospel According to Braden

And ye, Jesus did looketh down from the cross and spake thusly: “Lulz yall gonna pay me now.”


Braden Holtby, as a southerner fanning himself on the veranda and drinking a mint julep might say, is about to get paiiiiyyyyyyyyyyyydddddddddddddduhhhhh.


And good! Please, pay him whatever he wants. Give him $8-9 Million if he wants it. We have a Henrik Lundqvist, and for once he’s wearing our colors. Holtby is a sweet, neat, and most importantly, elite NHL goaltender, and the Capitals should give him a contract long enough that his kids go to prom here.


Fortunately, GM Brian MacLellen appears to be on the same page, and has called signing Holtby, “a priority.”


Evgeny Kuznetsov

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25:  Evgeny Kuznetsov, drafted 26th overall by the Washington Capitals, poses on stage during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 25: Evgeny Kuznetsov, drafted 26th overall by the Washington Capitals, poses on stage during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)


You think Gryffindor would just let Harry Potter walk to Slytherin when his rookie contract was up?


Evgeny Kuznetsov, the most anticipated Capitals prospect since George McPhee proposed a players-only “Fun Day” at Six Flags, needs to be in this team’s long term plans.


Already christened here and elsewhere (mostly here) as Baby Ovi, the Rushin’ Machine (GIF pending) and an obvious Trojan Horse from Russia designed to make us love him, Kuzy fulfilled his promise in the 2015 playoffs. Highlight reel goals, pants-droppingly charming post-game interviews, and a desire to seemingly learn and do everything he could to help the Capitals win, this is not your grandfather’s brooding Russian hockey player. He is not Alex Semin.


Likely a top-six forward on opening day next season, Kuznetsov is one player the Capitals want to lock down like clock town.

Marcus Johansson

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Oh, Mojo, must you twist our arm?

Sweder than candy, the biggest knocks against Marcus Johnasson, the Capitals’ talented winger, have always been two-fold: he can’t finish scoring chances, and he plays too lightly.


Well don’t mind Marcus over here, just having a career-high regular season in goals (20) and points (47), and in the playoffs, he was the most noticeable wrecking ball since the one that Miley Cyrus rode naked.


Depending on what other Capitals free agents do, there’s a chance Johansson could see time on the top line next year. If you think he’s good enough to play with Alex Ovechkin, you should think he’s good enough to have on your bloody team.

SHUT ‘EM BUTT ‘EM AND CUT ‘EM.


Mike Green

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Mike Green, Miguel Verde, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

Lo these many years I’ve made jokes and ill-contrived puns about the defenseman’s lackluster play for, well, a defenseman. I’ve likened his stability on defense to that of a ligament in RG3’s knee. Yes, I fell in love with his offensive production when he was young, but falling in love with that is like falling in love with a sorority girl for her body. Or if we’re being way more honest, a fraternity boy for his body. Beer is a cruel mistress.

Mike Green was a third-line defenseman this postseason. Some team starving for offense is going to pay him way too much money, and he will undoubtedly have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup by this time next year because, of course.

With Dmitry Orlov finally healthy and Steven Oleksy waiting in Hershey, the Capitals have two cheap-o blueliners ready to rock and roll who are at least as competent as Green. Plus, check out this graphic:

PutinCraigOlesky

Certifiably lethal and diplomatically insane.


MAYBE, BABY, DEPENDS ON WHAT THE PAY BE.


Joel Ward

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I’ve said this before on Twitter, the publication of repute, but Joel Ward may just be the Capitals’ best all-around hockey player.

He is fast, he is hard to dislodge, and he is steady – he’s basically the best lover you’ve ever had. But the issue will be whether the Capitals want to offer him the money that another team desperate for a top-line forward surely will. Ward is 34 years old, reaching risky long-term contract area, and a full decade older than me (doesn’t that piss you off, Doug?)

Washington, I believe, is close to winning a Stanley Cup. If Ward feels the same way, he may be willing to take a slight discount to stay with a winner, assuming no better options come his way. If not, and if he makes Washington call his financial bluff, the Capitals might be searching for a new top-line winger.

 Eric Fehr

February 14, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Washington Capitals right wing Eric Fehr (16) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

February 14, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Washington Capitals right wing Eric Fehr (16) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


Once upon a time, Eric Fehr was the Washington Capitals’ first round draft pick.

Between suffering a laundry list of injuries more convoluted than the Cirque du Soleil wardrobe department dry cleaning bill, Fehr has looked really darn good at times. His dipsy-doo overtime game-winner in Boston last year remains the stuff of legend. He is a big, fast, talented forward with hands softer than a baby lemur, and if Washington has room for him, they would be wise to sign him.

It is unlikely that Fehr will receive a massive contract elsewhere – other teams are just as wise to his Ikea-like tendency to break down as the Capitals are. If he-knows-what-they-know-that-he-knows and all the right parties understand the score, the Caps could lock Fehr up for the right price.

Jay Beagle

Beagle_portrait_Camry

How do you solve a problem like Jay Beagle? How do you sign a kid and lock him down?

Throughout most of the 2015 playoffs, Jay Beagle held the highest face-off win percentage in the NHL. That’s nothing to sneeze at in a league where the slightest advantage or disadvantage can mean the difference between winning and losing.

But, like the worst hunting dog ever, this Beagle often failed to make the kill. I have stark, vivid, burned-into-my-brain images of Beagle chipping open-net chances high and wide in the 2015 playoffs, and in a series where every game the New York Rangers won was won by one goal, that’s a misplaced pill so hard to swallow they ought to call it a suppository.

Beagle is, to the league at large, an unproven entity. If he wants to be a Washington Capital, he will probably be offered as much money here as he will anywhere. If he’s given the chance, let’s hope he doesn’t shank it wide.

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About Jason Rogers

Jason Rogers lives in D.C. and writes for PuckBuddys, Japers' Rink, and The Classical. Follow him on Twitter @HeyJayJRogers.
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