Despite the lack of additional scoring depth on the wing and arguably the need for another stable top-four defenseman, General Manager George McPhee said Monday he doesn’t “expect to do anything” more in this shallow free agent market.
“It’s a very inflated market this summer. There aren’t very many players and there are a lot of teams pursuing the players,” McPhee said. “At some point you start inventing players, making them out to be better than they are and paying more than you should. It’s sometimes best to sit back and stay out of it.”
Granted, McPhee’s assertion that the Capitals won’t do anything else doesn’t preclude them from signing another player once the dust settles, as they did with goaltender Tomas Vokoun last season, or making a trade later down the road.
As things stand now, Washington has $19.8 million in room under the cap but that number will shrink to around $12.8 million, perhaps less, once restricted free agents Mike Green, John Carlson, Jay Beagle and Mathieu Perreault are resigned.
It’s plenty of room to tweak the lineup, but McPhee was adamant he would not add the burden of a regrettable contract to the fold.
McPhee declined to say whether the Capitals submitted formal offers to top UFAs Zach Parise and Ryan Suter only that they “explored everything.” He expanded only to say that the team set a limit for the type of contract it would offer. Once the term or salary amount exceeded that threshold, McPhee said Washington moved on.
“You can survive the loss of a player but it’s hard to survive bad contracts,” McPhee said. “Sometimes you can do something at this time of year that handcuffs you for years. We haven’t done that we’re not interested in doing that.”
The departure of Alexander Semin leaves a hole for a true scorer on the second line, but when asked if he felt the need to pursue a top-six winger McPhee said he believes Washington can fill the void internally.
That means increased production from Alex Ovechkin down through the forward ranks and from the offensively inclined defensemen as well. Ovechkin, Semin and Jason Chimera were the only three players to reach the 20-goal plateau in 2011-12.
“We like to try our own guys. We added a skill guy in [center Mike] Ribeiro and expect that that move’s going to make us a whole lot better,” McPhee said. “They did it last year. Troy Brouwer got  goals for us last year….So we’ll try our own guys.”
A few other notes from McPhee’s meeting with reporters Monday:
— There’s no timetable on hiring assistant coaches and it’s possible none will be named before the start of development camp on July 9.
“We’ll get on that later this week but I don’t expect any announcement on that any time soon,” McPhee said. “We have names but we really haven’t had a lot of dialogue or interviews.”
— Keith Aucoin likely won’t be back in the organization next season. “He’s looking for a one-way deal in the league somewhere,” McPhee said. “It was our understanding if he didn’t get it he’d go to Europe to play.”
— Speaking of development camp, the roster of Capitals prospects who are attending will be released on Tuesday.