●Semin’s $6.7 million-per-season contract expires and he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. In each of the past two seasons, he already had signed a one-year contract extension long before now.
This time figures to be more complex. The 28-year-old scored 21 goals, his lowest total since his rookie season in 2003-04, and had a typically uneven postseason performance, notching three goals against Boston and none against New York. But, for the first time, Semin can dictate where he plays and there’s no guarantee that it will be Washington.
McPhee could find himself in a difficult position in negotiations because he’s faced with a shallow free agent pool in which to find a replacement for Semin. Prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, meantime, has said he intends to spend another two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League.
And if the Capitals are planning to keep Semin, would it be worth McPhee’s time to sign a top-six center to set him up?
●McPhee also must make decisions on pending unrestricted free agents Mike Knuble, Tomas Vokoun, Jeff Halpern, Keith Aucoin and Wideman.
Wideman is the biggest question. Although he was named to the all-star team after a strong first half, the 29-year-old, at times, struggled in the second half and finished the postseason tied with defensive partner Jeff Schultz at minus-7, the second-worst mark in the playoffs.
Wideman figures to command a raise on the $4.5 million he earned this season. But will the Capitals be interested at that price?
●Mike Green, John Carlson, Beagle and Mathieu Perreault, all restricted free agents, also need contracts.
While Green missed the majority of a second consecutive season due to injuries, it would be hard to imagine a scenario, barring a trade, in which he is not retained and on the roster next season. The same is true for Carlson, Beagle and Perreault.
● One position that seems to have some clarity, at long last, is goaltender. With Vokoun finishing the season on injured reserve and likely out of the picture, rookie Braden Holtby proved he’s ready for the big leagues by carrying the Capitals to within a game of the franchise’s first conference finals berth in 14 years.
The 22-year-old posted a 1.95 goals against average and a .935 save percentage (tied for fifth best) against the Bruins and Rangers, endeared himself to his teammates with his competitive fire and, as result, would seem to have the edge on Michal Neuvirth entering training camp.
“Braden certainly helped his cause and put his name on the map,” Knuble said. “He really helped himself. We’re all very proud of the way he played.”
“He was juggling a lot,” Knuble added.
Now it’s time for McPhee to do the same.