MacLellan is in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards, as he’s a finalist for the General Manager of the Year award, and he spoke to reporters Tuesday aftrenoon via a conference call. Qualifying offers to Johansson and Orlov would have to, at minimum, match last year’s salary, since both made more than $1 million. A qualifying offer to Wilson would have to be at least 105 percent of last season’s salary, or $874,125, and Latta’s would have to be at least 110 percent more, or $632,500. Johansson, Orlov and Latta are arbitration-eligible, but Wilson is not.
Unsurprisingly, with Johansson expected to be paid the most of Washington’s restricted free agents, his contract will be the biggest domino to fall with regard to how the Capitals approach the rest of the free agency.
“We’re waiting for the salary cap number to come out, and then we make our decisions based on what we perceive to have on the cap, what room and what space we have left,” MacLellan said. “The Marcus Johansson one is going to impact us the biggest. The other guys, I feel fairly confident that we can slot them in the proper area, and I’m not sure on Marcus yet. We’ll see how it goes negotiations-wise.”
Johansson was a restricted free agent last summer, too, and his one-year deal worth $3.75 million was awarded in arbitration, falling roughly between the $3 million requested by Washington and the $4.75 million filed by Johansson in the pre-arbitration briefs. If the Capitals and Johansson require an arbitration ruling again, it will also be for a one-year deal and make Johansson an unrestricted free agent at its conclusion. MacLellan said he’s “optimistic” both sides can find a salary and term they agree on to avoid arbitration for a second time.
“[Johansson] likes where he is and would love to find a way to stay there a little bit longer and work something out,” said J.P. Barry, Johansson’s agent. “That’s why we’re doing our best. Once we can find a link that both of us are comfortable with, then I think things will get a little bit easier.”
Johansson’s $3.75 million arbitration ruling came after a breakout 2014-2015 season, when he finished with 20 goals and 27 assists and played in every game. He maintained that production last season with 17 goals and 29 assists in 74 games, likely giving him a strong arbitration case once again.
“He’s got some pretty decent stats and some of the comparables could have a higher number than we’re comfortable with,” MacLellan said.
MacLellan has maintained that re-signing restricted free agents is the top priority for the Capitals, with the next goal being to upgrade their bottom-six forwards through trade or free agency. With Washington’s restricted free agents still unsigned, MacLellan was asked whether there’s a chance for the team to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent winger Jason Chimera, 37, before free agency opens July 1, and he said he’s “not sure yet.”
“Chimmer’s had a great year last year, scored 20 goals,” MacLellan said. “Been a big part of our organization over the last number of years. Would love to have him back. I think it’s a lot of timing that’s going to have to fall into place for us to have him back. If we can get our guys signed and we see a good fit for Chimmer and the salary number comes in and the term comes in the right way, I think we’d pursue it.”
>>> Defenseman Karl Alzner had sports hernia surgery Wednesday morning, and MacLellan said he expects Alzner “to be 100 percent for training camp.”