Jason Chimera grew up in Edmonton, watching Oilers teams that stayed together and were a consistent presence in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The veteran winger believes he has found a similar situation in Washington, so when the team approached him about a contract extension Chimera didn’t think twice.
“It’s nice. Anytime you’ve got a place where you win hockey games – I’m not a dummy knowing how good this team is, and you want to be here a long time,” Chimera said. “For me it was a no-brainer. It was nice that they showed some confidence in me to come to me and ask me if I wanted something.”
The Capitals signed Chimera to a two-year extension worth $3.5 million with an annual salary cap hit of $1.75 million per season. It’s a slight decrease in salary for Chimera, 32, who will earn $1.875 million this season in the final year of his current deal.
General Manager George McPhee was not made available for comment on the signing.
He’s become a mainstay on the third line, where his combination of speed, size and grit help him create space in the offensive zone for his teammates. Chimera also possesses one of the more outgoing personalities in the room, which is something of an immeasurable asset unlike his speed and skating ability.
“He’s an older guy but one thing that’s never going to give out on him is skating, which is becoming so paramount in this game,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He knows how to play. He’s a big, strong guy. He’s an emotional guy, he’s good in our locker room and we do think that he’s got the potential to get between 15 and 20 goals.”
Chimera’s career highs in goals (17) and points (36) came during his time in Columbus, in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, respectively.With the Capitals last year, he averaged 13:15 of ice time, more than 11 minutes of which came at even strength — a trend that Boudreau said likely won’t change barring injuries that prompted a move up the depth chart.
“It’s tough in our situation because he’s not going to play 21 minutes a game,” Boudreau said. “He’s 14 minutes a game and it’s tough to get anywhere.”
It’s not always the case that a team approaches a player early in the final year of his contract to discuss an extension, and while some players might prefer to test the market, in Chimera’s case this was a simple decision for him to make.
“It was pretty easy to stay here,” Chimera said. “If you go to free agency you could end up anywhere, but you don’t end up on a team like this. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance and I wanted to be here.”
Signing Chimera leaves the Capitals with nine pending free agents at the end of this year, based on who currently holds a one-way deal. As things stand, there will be six unrestricted free agents (Tomas Vokoun, Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble, Jeff Halpern, Dennis Wideman and D.J. King) and three restricted free agents (Mike Green, John Carlson, Jay Beagle) next summer.