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.
Kings center Anze Kopitar is “in the early stages of negotiations for what will probably be a lengthy contract extension,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
Kopitar, along with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, headline the top pending unrestricted free agents of next summer. Also in that group are Eric Staal, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Kesler, Jakub Voracek, Brent Seabrook and Milan Lucic.
For the Kings, if Kopitar re-signs, it’ll be another long-term contract on the books. Los Angeles currently has seven players locked up through at least 2019-20.
Kopitar, 27, will almost certainly become the Kings’ highest cap hit. At present, that belongs to Drew Doughty, at $7 million through 2018-19.
Related: Toews, Bergeron, Kopitar are the Selke Trophy finalists
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.
The Los Angeles Kings have inked Jamie McBain to a one-year, two-way contract, per LA Kings Insider.
His new contract comes with a $600,000 annual cap hit and he would still earn $300,000 yearly in the minors. He had a one-way deal worth $550,000 in 2013-14.
The 27-year-old defenseman had three goals and nine points in 26 games with the Kings last season. He logged 12:41 minutes per contest, including an average of 1:44 minutes with the man advantage.
How much he’s used next season will likely depend on what happens with Slava Voynov. He took a plea to a misdemeanor count of corporal injury to a spouse and will spend 90 days in jail and serve three years of probation.
Voynov is still suspended by both the league and the Kings and it remains to be seen when or if those bans will be lifted.
Not that anyone was worried it wouldn’t happen, but the Edmonton Oilers have signed Connor McDavid to a three-year entry-level contract.
McDavid, the first overall pick in the 2015 draft, skated yesterday at Rexall Place in the Oilers’ orientation camp.
“It’s very cool,” he said, per Sportsnet. “The history that comes with this organization, the great games that have been played here… It’s such a storied franchise, to walk into the locker room and see all that stuff. It’s very special.”
McDavid’s arrival has Edmonton hockey fans optimistic that the Oilers will soon return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Not that he alone makes them a Stanley Cup contender. The defense, even after the signing of Andrej Sekera, remains a question mark. Ditto for the goaltending, even after the acquisition of Cam Talbot.
But the 18-year-old phenom summed it up nicely.
“It’s an exciting time,” he said. “The last couple of years have not gone the way they wanted them to, they’ve brought in some great hockey minds, and they still have such a great young core. I’m just trying to do everything I can to make the team and be a part of that. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this organization.”