Earlier today it was announced that the Washington Capitals signed their star center Nicklas Backstrom to a 10-year, $67 million contract. Previously I had detailed the fact that the team will be going into the summer with a ton of flexibility but the signing of Backstrom could be a make-or-break moment for their long-term chances.
As many have said on Twitter and elsewhere, Backstrom’s contract was a great value … at least from a cap hit perspective. Personally, I have some misgivings about all these “lifetime” contracts, but there’s no doubt that getting Backstrom for that little is brilliant. Here’s an updated version of the salary cap outlook I provided last time. Figures are taken from the invaluable CapGeek.com.
2010-11 cap commitments as of today (some amounts were rounded up to keep it simple):
Forwards (7 of required 12): Ovechkin (9.54); Backstrom (6.7); Semin (6); Knuble (2.8); Laich (2.06); Chimera (1.875); Steckel (1.1); Bradley (1)
Defense (5 of 6): Green (5.25); Poti (3.5); Erskine (1.25); Carlson (846K); Sloan (700k)
Goalies (1 of 2): Varlamov (822k)
Cap Space: About $13.35 million
Cap Space if they add Karl Alzner: About $11.675 million
Cap Space with Alzner and Michal Neuvirth: About $10.86 million
Some analysis after the jump.
So, the Capitals are in a fantastic situation to improve their team. They could either decide to go with a young goaltending duo or go after a free agent goalie such as Marty Turco or Evgeni Nabokov. They will need to fill 5 forward spots (including perhaps a second line center) although they could some fill spots with minor leaguers. Once they flesh out their roster, they could consider going after a shutdown defenseman or maybe even make their offense more ridiculous.
The team has a couple wildcards as well. I’d be surprised if Jose Theodore came back to Washington, but you never know. George McPhee might decide to bring him back, especially if he would take a pay cut. Another interesting factor is Michael Nylander, who really isn’t on the team to avoid his $4.875 million cap hit. Could his contract rear it’s ugly head?
It should be an awfully interesting summer for the Capitals. The way I see it, they have the opportunity to transform themselves into a promising-but-disappointing regular season wonder into a possible dynasty if they make the right decisions. They’re moving in the right direction so far.