The list of players who fit into the Washington Capitals' plans for next season grew significantly longer yesterday.
Veterans Jeff Halpern and Brendan Witt were among the 14 restricted free agents who were tendered qualifying offers by the 5 p.m. deadline, and therefore remain bound to the Capitals.
Six others, meantime, did not get offers, and thus are free to sign anywhere. Defenseman Jason Doig and center Trent Whitfield were among them.
What figures to be a wild free agent signing period kicks off today at noon. Washington is expected to be fairly active, but isn't likely to pursue any elite players.
The other Capitals who received qualifying offers were defensemen Josef Boumedienne, Jakub Cutta, Steve Eminger, Shaone Morrisonn and Nolan Yonkman; forwards Jared Aulin, Graham Mink, Stephen Peat, Matt Pettinger, Brian Sutherby and Brian Willsie; and goaltender Maxime Ouellet. (Right wing Dainius Zubrus remains a restricted free agent because he did not accept the Capitals' qualifying offer last summer.)
The players who received qualifying offers have until Aug. 15 to sign the contract. Some of them are eligible to file for arbitration, which must be done by Aug. 10.
Qualifying offers are based on 2004-05 salaries, which were not paid because of the lockout that wiped out the season, and subject to the 24 percent rollback the players agreed to in the collective bargaining agreement.
A player whose salary was below $660,000 received a qualifying offer of 110 percent of that amount. Players who were scheduled to make between $660,000 and $1 million got an offer of 105 percent. And those who were to earn more than $1 million received a qualifying offer of the same amount.
The Capitals already have 10 players under contract, but only three -- goaltender Olaf Kolzig and forwards Alexander Semin and Boyd Gordon -- are likely to make an impact next season.
Also cut loose yesterday were goaltender Justin Eddy, defensemen Dwayne Zinger and Jeff Paul and right wing Garret Stroshein.
Capitals Note: Eric Fehr, the 2003 first-round draft pick whom the Capitals signed Thursday, will earn the rookie maximum of $942,400 the next two years and $800,000 in the third and final year of the deal, according to a source. Fehr, 19, could crack the lineup next season.