Veteran right wing Mike Knuble has always said that his goal was reaching the milestone of 1,000 career regular-season games in the NHL. After agreeing to a one-year, $2 million contract extension with the Capitals, which was announced by the team Monday, he’ll have a chance to achieve that goal in Washington.
“I’ll be 39 years old next year and I’ll still have a chance to play this game and play in Washington, and I’ll always be thankful for that,” Knuble said. “It’s something I wasn’t ready to give up yet.”
Knuble, 38, is the oldest player on the Capitals’ roster, but over the last few weeks of the regular season has shown no signs of being in his 14th NHL season. It’s been a good turnaround for Knuble, who had only three goals and five assists at Dec. 1, but he has since accumulated 40 points and 24 goals.
In the final 14 games, Knuble was one of the team’s leading scorers with 13 points, including nine goals, in a surge that coincided with Washington’s push to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Knuble is playing out the final season in a two-year deal that was worth $5.6 million. He could have ventured into the free agent market this summer but said that his first choice was to remain in Washington — for both the competitive nature of the team and the consistency for his family.
“You get to a certain point in your life and things are not necessarily about dollars and cents all the time; other things are very important to you and your family,” Knuble said. “I was lucky enough to take advantage of that and still have some say in where I’m playing and where we live, where our kids go to school. I’m thrilled about it.
“It’s a point in my life where you don’t need to be out chasing things,” Knuble said. “If you’re in a good spot and feel like you have a chance, the team has a chance to win and contend, that’s a very important thing for you and your family to stay in that spot.”
For the Capitals, it means that a veteran player who isn’t afraid to step up and be a vocal leader when the team needs it will be around for one more year. They’ll also always have someone willing to go to the front of the net.
“He’s like fine wine, I guess: He just keeps getting better and the last half of the year he’s been arguably our best player,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “If you look, I think, his minutes has increased, year after year. [There’s no] fatigue, he’s in great shape, he’s a consummate professional and we’re a lucky group to have him for another year.”