Friday, July 4, 2008
The Washington Capitals will not pursue a contract with left wing Matt Cooke but remain hopeful that center Sergei Fedorov will return next season, General Manager George McPhee said yesterday.
Acquired at the trade deadline from Vancouver, Cooke, 29, was an integral part of the Capitals' late season push, amassing three goals and four assists in 17 games. But the unrestricted free agent became expendable when grinder Matt Bradley signed a three-year, $3 million contract extension in May.
"You can't keep everybody," McPhee said.
McPhee does, however, anticipate keeping Fedorov, though a deal might not materialize immediately, he said. The 38-year-old unrestricted free agent notched two goals and 11 assists in 18 games with the Capitals.
"We've talked to Sergei," McPhee said. "He wants to come here and is willing to wait until some of the dust settles. We'll continue to talk to him, but we're pretty confident that we'll get something done here."
McPhee said he expects to reach an agreement eventually with all four unsigned restricted free agents: Brooks Laich, Boyd Gordon, Shaone Morrisonn and Eric Fehr. Laich, Gordon and Morrisonn have until tomorrow to file for arbitration; Fehr is expected to accept his qualifying offer.
"At some point we'll reach an agreement on a deal, whether it's through arbitration or a negotiated process," McPhee said of Laich, who is seeking to more than double his $725,000 salary after scoring a career-best 21 goals last season. "If someone puts an offer sheet, we would match it. We'll get a deal done one way or another."
Bringing back Fedorov and re-signing the restricted free agents, though, is all McPhee anticipates doing in the coming days and weeks.
"We won't be signing any more free agents -- unless there's some bargain sitting there in late August or September," he said. "A lot of teams have been so aggressive, they're capped out. There could be some decent players that might be looking for work."
The Capitals also signed forward Keith Aucoin, 29, to a two-year contract. Aucoin, who split last season between Carolina and Albany of the American Hockey League, is most likely destined for Washington's minor league affiliate in Hershey, Pa. Aucoin's contract is a two-way deal next season with an NHL salary $475,000. He'll earn $500,000 in 2009-10, whether he plays in the NHL or the minors.
-- Tarik El-Bashir