Perhaps Justin Williams‘ return to Washington is more likely than first thought.
Williams, an unrestricted free agent come July 1, looked like he’d head to market after the Caps crashed out of the playoffs. He turns 36 this fall and, given GM Brian MacLellan has a number of other important signings this summer, many though bringing Williams back would be difficult.
But maybe not.
Per CSN Mid-Atlantic, Williams has already met with MacLellan this offseason, and the pair will soon meet again.
The timing of these meetings is curious. Following the aforementioned playoff exit, Williams said he’d like to be back with the Caps but suggested any sort of negotiation would happen well down the road.
“Saying something doesn’t mean it’s just going to happen,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of things that go into the offseason here, which I’m sure is not going to be too quiet.
“So there’s a lot of factors that go into everything, and I’ll probably have a clearer picture in a couple of months.”
Williams just wrapped a two-year, $6.5 million deal with a $3.25M average annual cap hit. It’s fair to say he was good value for the money. He finished 24 goals and 48 points in 80 games, and that that goal total was his highest since 2006-07, when he potted 33 in Carolina.
Given his scoring ability and vast postseason experience — three Stanley Cups, and a Conn Smythe — Williams could probably score a nice deal in free agency, possibly from a team on the cusp of contending that wants to add experience.
That said, the dollars might not be out there. It’s possible the NHL has a flat salary cap for next season, which could limit summer spending across the league. And the Caps could decide that retaining Williams might be more feasible than, say, trying to re-up with T.J. Oshie, who is five years younger and likely looking for a longer-term deal.