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Capitals in a Rush to Sign Johansson, Fleischmann

Tuesday, June 1, 2004; Page D02

The Washington Capitals risk losing the rights to two of their brightest prospects -- wingers Jonas Johansson and Tomas Fleischmann -- if the players are not signed to contracts by today's 5 p.m. deadline.

If the Capitals do not come to terms with Johansson and Fleischmann, they are eligible to re-enter the draft. The sides were in negotiations yesterday, the players' agents said.

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It's particularly important for Washington to get Johansson and Fleischmann under contract if for no other reason than to get something in return for what the team gave up to acquire them. Johansson was the centerpiece of the trade that sent former captain Steve Konowalchuk to Colorado in October; Fleischmann was acquired as part of the deal that sent Robert Lang to Detroit in March.

Johansson, 20, is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-handed shooting right wing who was selected in the first round (28th overall) by Colorado in 2002. His agent was awaiting a counteroffer yesterday afternoon. "It looks like we're going to go right down to the wire," Mark Stowe said.

Washington General Manager George McPhee did not return a phone call yesterday.

Fleischmann, 20, is a 6-1, 172 pound left-handed shooting left wing who was the Red Wings' second round choice (63rd overall) two years ago. The Capitals also acquired first (2004) and fourth (2006) round picks for Lang. Fleischmann's agent, Rich Evans, said late Monday that he was in negotiations with the Capitals.

The Capitals were also nearing a deal with Jakub Klepis, a 19-year-old who was Ottawa's first-round pick in 2002, according to multiple NHL sources. Klepis was acquired from Buffalo in exchange for Mike Grier. Klepis is not subject to today's deadline because he is playing in the Czech Republic.

-- Tarik El-Bashir


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