With just six days ’til the start of training camp, the Washington Capitals and unsigned RFA forward Marcus Johansson know it’s crunch time for contract negotiations.
“We’re hoping he’ll be here,” Caps GM George McPhee told the Washington Post on Wednesday. “We’re hoping we’ll have a deal done by then, we’ll keep talking.”
Johansson, 22, scored 22 points in 34 games for the Caps last year — the highest point-per-game total of his three-year career — and emerged as a top-line forward alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.
As for what he’s looking for monetarily?
The Post’s Katie Carrera reports Johansson’s “believed” to be gunning for a deal slightly higher than the two-year, $4.5 million deal Carl Hagelin got from the Rangers in July.
Johansson’s a bit more proven commodity than Hagelin — one more season, 71 more games played, 33 more points scored — so it’s not surprising to learn he’d like a slightly more lucrative deal.
The question, though, is if Washington’s willing to give it.
The Caps only have $2.6 million in available cap space for this season, and 12 forwards on one-way NHL contracts.
Of course, McPhee said the Johansson contract isn’t contingent upon either of those issues.
“We try to negotiate on what the player is now and what he’s going to be and attach a number to it and that’s what we try to get to,” McPhee said. “It’s not about using the cap in one way or another to get to a deal.
“It’s, ‘What is this guy worth? What is he right now? And what can we expect him to be?’”