The Washington Capitals are close to finalizing a deal that would send center Michal Pivonka to the Tampa Bay Lightning, continuing the club's youth movement and breaking ties with another longtime team fixture.
Pivonka, 33, has been with Washington since the team made him a third-round pick in the 1984 draft, but he may not be with the team when training camp opens at Piney Orchard this morning.
"I think something is going to happen," Capitals General Manager George McPhee said. "It's fair to say we're pretty close. I'd like to think it will happen. We're trying to work something out and do a deal that allows them to get a look at Michal in [Tampa Bay's] camp and make some evaluations."
Pivonka ranks second to Mike Gartner on the team's all-time points list with 599; his 418 assists are tops in franchise history. He ranks third on the team's all-time games played list, behind Kelly Miller and Dale Hunter. Hunter retired this summer and Miller was not re-signed.
However, Pivonka has played just 69 games total the past two seasons because of injuries, totaling 20 points in that span.
NHL sources said the deal with Tampa Bay would be largely financial, with the Capitals absorbing part of Pivonka's $1.2 million salary and perhaps receiving a draft pick, depending on how well he plays for the Lightning. McPhee would not comment on particulars of the deal and details are being worked out.
"It's certainly time for him to have a chance in another organization," McPhee said. "And this would be a good opportunity for him."