With free agency kicking off on Friday, the Washington Capitals were set to be in a fight to try and retain their heart and soul forward Brooks Laich. Laich is loved across D.C. for his gutsy play and his serious attitude about winning games. That blue collar mentality with a penchant for scoring big goals would make him a hero in just about any city.
The Caps decided today that they didn’t want to see him become just that anywhere else as they’ve inked Laich to a six-year, $27 million contract to lock him into Washington and avoid free agency.
The last four years in Washington, Laich has missed just four games and has averaged over 21 goals in that time (85 goals, 112 assists). He’s been the guy that’s done the dirty work on a team loaded with flashy stars. Laich has been killing penalties and defending against some of the better forwards they’ve faced off with.
The $4.5 million cap hit seems a bit stiff and the Caps will have to hope that there won’t be a salary cap rollback in the future when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement gets worked out as that number might get uncomfortable for them if that happens. As it is now, with the cap ballooning every year, it’s a price that won’t cripple the team and George McPhee potentially got a discounted price for him considering how much Laich could have commanded on the open market.
For the Caps, keeping Laich around made all the sense in the world. He is much loved in the city by the fans and his competitive fire is the kind that can help infect the rest of the team. He’s also a great community member as he’ll also help you change a tire after a Game 7.
Laich re-upping in Washington does have another effect on things as it takes a guy who would’ve been hotly pursued off the market for July 1. Laich would’ve seen a lot of attention as he’s an ideal contributor for a team looking to get that complimentary piece to put them over the top. Now, July 1 shapes up to be all about Brad Richards, Tomas Vokoun, and potentially Jaromir Jagr as well. The rest of the unrestricted free agent pool isn’t overly inspiring.
That doesn’t matter much to Washington now though as they’re keeping their guy. While they’ll still be prowling around for help for the team come July 1, they’re hanging on to the one guy that everyone else wanted to have on their team and that can’t be bad.