By the midway point of his first full NHL season in 2010-11, Karl Alzner had become half of the Washington Capitals’ shutdown defensive pairing and was playing 18 to 20 minutes a game. That significant role on Washington’s blueline led many to believe that a considerable raise might be in store for Alzner.
So when Alzner signed a two-year deal worth $2.57 million, with an annual cap hit of $390,000 less than that of his previous contract, it appeared to be a bargain for the Capitals. Given Alzner’s status as a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, though, agent J.P. Barry said he was pleased with the contract.
“Without arbitration rights, what you spend time negotiating is the value of the second year and that’s where we had the gap,” Barry said in a telephone interview Friday.
Barry explained that the team initially cited comparables in a $1.2 million to $1.4 million range for the second year while he sought something in a higher range closer to $1.9 million to $2 million. They ultimately agreed to $1.75 million for the second year, which was combined with the qualifying offer of $826,895 and then spread out over the duration of the deal, Barry said.
“Our valuation of 1.75 puts him in the higher range of guys who have his experience and play those minutes as a shutdown defensemen, so I’m pleased with that,” Barry said. “At the same time, we’re fully aware that we think Karl has an excellent future and if he continues on this path he’ll be in a whole different class” when this contract expires.
Barry said if the two sides hadn’t reached an agreement on a two-year deal by Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline to accept qualifying offers, Alzner would have taken the one-year contract and likely gone to arbitration next summer.
As it stands, though, the Capitals and Coach Bruce Boudreau get one of the organization’s home-grown defensemen back in the fold for two seasons as Alzner continues to play in a shutdown role with John Carlson.
“I just think him and John Carlson make a perfect team and they’ve played together for three years,” Boudreau said. “They know each other pretty well and if their progress is as good as it’s been from Day One in Hershey to the end of last year and they keep progressing, I think they’re going to be a very good duo.”
As for how he sees Alzner, who will turn 23 in September, evolving as a player, Boudreau said as the British Columbia native becomes more physically mature he will likely be even more effective in his stay-at-home role.
“He’s going to be an extremely good shutdown defenseman because his body’s getting bigger and stronger,” Boudreau said. “He still hasn’t reached his full man-strength here.”