General Manager George McPhee has said repeatedly that he doesn’t “anticipate doing much more if anything” when it comes to adding to the Capitals’ lineup. As to be expected, though, he hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility.
Several unrestricted free agents are still available, including some who might be a fit to shore up Washington’s depth – Mikhail Grabovski, Dustin Penner, Mason Raymond and Nathan Gerbe — and on Wednesday defenseman Karl Alzner said the potential for improvement remains.
“We haven’t done a whole lot, trying to lock up some of the guys right now,” Alzner said Wednesday after signing a four-year contract extension worth $11.2 million. “But there’s still a ton of good players out there that, if we have the opportunity to get, can help us tremendously.”
Alzner made it clear he thinks the Capitals have a solid lineup and that having a healthy Brooks Laich back will be a boon for the depth chart, whether the team brings in a free agent or not. Still, his point isn’t lost.
“I still think we have a great core group of players,” Alzner said. “I still think we’re going to be a great team. It’d be nice to try to get one more big name guy in there. Regardless if that happens or not, we’re going to be very competitive and the guys are ready to go.”
After re-signing Alzner, the Capitals have a little more than $5.6 million in space under the salary cap. Inking Marcus Johansson to a new deal remains on the offseason to-do list, but even after doing so they should have room for another player. Whether that player is a free agent or someone like prospect Tom Wilson, though, remains to be seen.
Once the busy opening day of NHL free agency concludes, the market dries up, to a large extent. Players remain unsigned but the majority of moves in recent days have been teams working to re-sign their RFAs.
McPhee commented on how the market changes after the initial flurry of free agent signings Wednesday and wondered if some players wouldn’t be better off waiting until closer to the new season to find a landing spot.
“As that first day goes by you get more people calling, trying to sell their players, and it sort of dies off,” McPhee said. “In some respects agents might be better off to wait until training camp to do deals or early in the season for certain players because right now there’s not a lot of room for people. You get going in the season and someone realizes they have a hole that hasn’t been able to be filled and then you start talking to players like that.”