Free agency opens throughout the NHL on Tuesday and the Capitals figure to be active. With nearly $12.7 million in available space and priorities established (defense, goaltending), who should be atop Washington’s wish list?
Ehrhoff became available Sunday when Buffalo bought out the remaining seven years of the defenseman’s 10-year contract. The 31-year-old is capable of logging big minutes, leading Sabres defensemen in even-strength, power-play and short-handed ice time per game last season. He also posted relatively strong possession numbers on a team that was weak in that regard; the percentage of even-strength shot attempts that belonged to Buffalo increased substantially when he was on the ice. Ehrhoff is conceivably the most complete defenseman available.
For the Rangers last season, Stralman emerged as a reliable second-pairing defenseman — which is something the Capitals need. He had just one goal and 13 points last season, but he was among the league leaders in puck possession at his position. The 27-year-old was arguably the Rangers’ most consistent blueliner during their run to the Stanley Cup final. Stralman may have priced himself out of New York, which has an excess of key free agents to potentially sign this summer. He could be a cost-effective alternative for teams seeking a defensive boost.
The veteran goalie and former Capital, who turns 38 on Wednesday, missed all of last season in Pittsburgh with a career-threatening pelvic blood clot. Vokoun has recovered and is prepared to resume his career. Washington, which is in search of an experienced backup to support Braden Holtby, provides an intriguing option, in that Vokoun would be reunited with recently hired goalie coach Mitch Korn. The two worked together for eight seasons in Nashville, Tenn., with Korn developing an unknown Vokoun into a bona fide NHL starter.