Caps GM doesn’t fear possible arbitration for Holtby, Johansson

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“If you’ve got to go to arb, you’ve got to go to arb.”

No, that’s not a new slogan for fast food roast beef. Instead, it’s the amusing phrasing Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan used as he projected comfort with the possibility of Braden Holtby and Marcus Johansson going to salary arbitration, according to the Washington Post.

“I think we’ve made an aggressive offer with Holtby, hoping to get it done sooner than later,” MacLellan said. “I like what we’ve offered. We’ve offered a term deal with a good salary. The total dollars is pretty significant. Unfortunately, I guess you play it out. If you’ve got to go to arb, you’ve got to go to arb. It’s part of the process.”

The Washington Post notes that MacLellan described his offer to Johansson as “competitive.” Does that rank a little lower on the scale of negotiations than “aggressive,” though?

Contract talks don’t really go through the sometimes-tense arbitration process very often any longer. Each case would be fascinating if they made it that far, however.

A quick look at each RFA

Holtby is obviously the bigger name of the two, and with good reason after a breakout year.

The 25-year-old’s career numbers look excellent (especially an impressive .921 save percentage), and he really made an impression in 2014-15, going 41-20-10 with nine shutouts and a .923 save percentage. While his resume isn’t enormous – 73 of his 178 games played came this past season – his stats argue for a hefty raise from his bargain $1.85 million cap hit.

Johansson, 24, would be an interesting consideration in his own right, though.

The Swedish forward set career-highs with 20 goals and 47 points last season; he didn’t look out of place when he joined the Caps’ top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, either.

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Washington boasts about $10.9 million in cap space, but those two could eat a huge chunk of that breathing room. It sounds like MacLellan isn’t sweating the situation too much, though (at least publicly).

After winning 2C audition, Kuznetsov aiming to ‘play better’

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Less than a year ago, the Washington Capitals had no idea who would be their second-line center.

They know now.

It’s Evgeny Kuznetsov, the talented 23-year-old Russian who just signed a two-year extension with the club.

“I played good hockey but I have to play better,” Kuznetsov said, per CSN Washington. “I’ll try to focus on my game and what the coach tells me. If everybody does the right job probably something good will happen.”

Next season, the Caps could have a first line comprised of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, and a second line featuring Kuznetsov between Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams.

“[Kuznetsov] filled a hole at second-line center that we’ve been trying to fill for a number of years,” Caps general manager Brian MacLellan said in May.

With a defense headlined by John Carlson and Matt Niskanen, and with Braden Holtby in goal, you’ll excuse Caps fans for finding it difficult to contain their excitement.

Related: Caps landing ‘affordable’ Williams a sign of the new free agency

Caps ink Kuznetsov to two-year, $6 million extension

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Coming off an impressive first full season in Washington, Evgeny Kuznetsov has scored a new deal.

On Monday, the Caps announced they’d signed Kuznetsov to a two-year, $6 million extension with an average annual cap hit of $3M. The deal allows the two sides to avoid arbitration — the Caps had until today to file — and comes after the 23-year-old put together a solid rookie campaign, notching 11 goals and 37 points in 80 games to finish ninth among first-year players in scoring.

Kuznetsov, who was an RFA, was carrying a $900,000 cap hit on his old deal.

The move is just the latest from Caps GM Brian McLellan, who’s been a busy man of late. He made a splash in free agency by acquiring former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams, then orchestrated the T.J. Oshie trade shortly thereafter.

Previously, MacLellan suggested that Williams and Kuznetsov would play together on a line next season, along with Andre Burakowsky.

As for what’s up next — the Caps still need to reach new deals with two other RFAs: Braden Holtby and Marcus Johansson.

Arbitration filed: Holtby, Nyquist & Stepan highlight list released by NHLPA

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A total of 23 players have filed for arbitration, according to a list unveiled by the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby along with Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist and Rangers’ Derek Stepan are part of the list released on Sunday.

The deadline for club-elected arbitration is Monday at 5 p.m. ET. Salary Arbitration hearings will be held from July 20 to August 4.

Here is the complete list of players who have filed:

Arizona Coyotes
Mikkel Boedker
Phil Samuelsson
Brendan Shinnimin

Buffalo Sabres
Phil Varone

Calgary Flames
Lance Bouma
Paul Byron
Josh Jooris

Colorado Avalanche
Andrew Agozzino
Mathew Clark

Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist

Minnesota Wild
Erik Haula

Nashville Predators
Taylor Beck
Craig Smith
Colin Wilson

New Jersey Devils
Eric Gélinas
Adam Larsson

New York Rangers
Derek Stepan

Ottawa Senators
Alex Chiasson
Mike Hoffman

Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Del Zotto

St. Louis Blues
Magnus Paajarvi

Washington Capitals
Braden Holtby
Marcus Johansson

Caps agree to terms with veteran goalie Dan Ellis

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The Washington Capitals have agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with Dan Ellis, per the team’s website.

Ellis is a veteran of 212 career NHL games. The 35-year-old netminder posted a 2.35 GAA and .914 save percentage in eight contests with the Florida Panthers in 2014-15. He also had a 2.71 GAA and .904 save percentage in 37 AHL contests.

He’ll probably start the campaign competing for playing time in the minors with another veteran goaltender in Justin Peters. Meanwhile 25-year-old Braden Holtby and 23-year-old Philipp Grubauer are projected to begin the 2015-16 season as the Capitals’ starting and backup netminders respectively.

Due in part to the youth of the Capitals’ top two goalies, the projected AHL tandem has logged more NHL games than their Washington counterparts.

Washington has already had a busy summer with the signing of Justin Williams and acquisition of T.J. Oshie, but the team isn’t finished yet. It still needs to come to terms with restricted free agents Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Holtby.