(Adam Hunger/Reuters)

Matt Hendricks expects to hit the open market when NHL free agency opens Friday at noon, according to his agent.

Returning to the Capitals was always Hendricks’s first choice heading into this offseason but the team hasn’t been in contact with him or his representative about a new contract since late in the regular season nor have they reached out to set up any conversations for this week.

“We haven’t heard anything from Washington, so at this point he plans on hitting the market,” Hendricks’s agent, Michael Wulkan said Monday morning. “They’ve had plenty of time to call us and they haven’t.”

Given the manner in which talks came to a halt between the two sides, Hendricks has “come to grips” with the fact that he and the Capitals appear to be headed in different directions, Wulkan said.

“I don’t think we were ever close,” Wulkan said. “I think it was disappointing at the beginning and now it’s more excitement. He just wants to feel wanted.”

Hendricks, who turns 32 on July 17, has been an versatile, steady part of the Capitals’ lineup over the past three years not to mention a well-respected, vocal part of the dressing room. He could easily fit in with any number of teams, who are looking to add multi-purpose forward depth.

The gritty forward earned a $800,000 salary ($825,000 cap hit) in 2012-13 but as a free agent it wouldn’t be surprising to see him land a contract with an annual average value double that figure or more.

Washington already has 11 forwards under contract for next season and is expected to re-sign restricted free agent Marcus Johansson as well. There’s also a possibility that 2011 first-round draft pick Tom Wilson, who made his NHL debut in the playoffs this spring, could make the roster out of training camp. Wilson would have a salary cap hit of $1,294,166 in 2013-14.

With that many forwards already in the mix, the Capitals may feel they don’t need to bring Hendricks back. The writing may have been on the wall as early as April, when Washington re-signed wingers Aaron Volpatti (two years, $1.15 million with an annual cap hit $575,000) and Eric Fehr (two years, $3 million with an annual cap hit of $1.5 million) to cap friendly deals.

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