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Niskanen Shouldn’t Be Final Move

Earlier today, I shared some not so nice views on the Caps' decision in signing Brooks Orpik to a 5-year, $27.5 million contract.  Well, the new GM obviously wasn't done as the Capitals have come to terms with another former Penguin, Matt Niskanen, on a  7-year, $40.25 million contract.  With Niskanen's $5.75 mil per season on the books, it leaves the Caps with just over 1 million in cap space.

Now, before we get to the issues with the cap, I want to stress I like the Niskanen deal significantly more than than the Orpik deal.  It would have been nice to maybe get the numbers a little lower, but for a guy who decently drives possession and is entering his prime years, I'm okay with overpaying a little.  And the fact that he allegedly turned down more money from the Red Wings (sorry) to come here tells me he wants to be here.

All of that being said, the Caps seem to have robbed Peter to pay Paul (no, not that Paul).  In the Alex Ovechkin era of the Capitals, there have been two main holes in their roster: defense and a second-line center.  Since Fedorov left, the Capitals have tried out a bunch of different people at 2C (Brendan Morrison, Tomas Fleischmann, Mike Ribeiro, Marcus Johansson), but it looked like they finally got their guy when they went out and got Grabovski last season.  Despite some injury issues, he was one of the best Caps of the season.  But they got him for a bargain last season, and they knew he would want more if he thrived as he did.  And sure enough, he wanted north of $5 million and the Caps weren't taking that.

My only real question about that is how they planned to bring in Orpik, Niskanen, and Grabovski anyway.  The rumors had been swirling during the free agent interview window that new assistant coach Reirden was courting his former defensemen while MacLellan was working with Grabo.  There was no way they were ever getting all three.

Either way, here we are.  The Caps have sunk a lot of money into a blueline that still doesn't have a lot of people convinced.  I mean, it's not like when people were thinking of teams to raid for defense, the Penguins were at the top of the list.  And on top of that, they have no space to go out and get a quality 2C.  So, they could look inside the organization to find that, but I don't see it there.  Their top options are Marcus Johansson (blech), Brooks Laich (ouch), and Evgeny Kuznetsov (better at wing).  Kuznetsov certainly seems like the top candidate of those three, but he's looked rather pedestrian at center so far and much better on the wing.

If they see that the personnel isn't' there in-house, they'll have to make a move to bring the right guy in or free up space to pay somebody (though not many options left).  The obvious choice to most is Mike Green.  He's fallen out of favor of a lot of fans and carries a ridiculously high contract that's in its final year.  I might be in the minority, but Mike Green was one of the best Caps defensemen down the stretch last season to me.  It might not free up as much space, but I'd like to see them try to move Marcus Johansson first.  It is a shame that they didn't make some kind of run at Brad Richards, considering how little he signed for in Chicago.

Filed in: | F Street Faithful | Permalink
  Tags: brooks+orpik, grabovski, matt+niskanen, washington+capitals


d ca's avatar

The Caps are in trouble cap-wise starting next year.

Mike Green, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr become UFA’s, Holtby and Johansson hits RFAgency.

They have little space ($1.11M) left this year with one more player to sign/promote.

Posted by d ca on 07/01/14 at 11:06 PM ET

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About F Street Faithful

Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate.  This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals.  The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.

In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at  York College of Pennsylvania.  I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland. 

You can follow me on twitter @FStreetTate but I must warn that I do tweet about more than hockey. You can also e-mail me at any time at overtheboard@gmail.com.