Updates on the Bruins, Sabres & Capitals – March 23, 2017
Possible off-season moves by the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres and wondering if the Washington Capitals can afford to re-sign T.J. Oshie.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan recently observed right wing T.J. Oshie’s been a perfect fit with the Washington Capitals. However, she wondered if they can afford to re-sign the 30-year-old, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. General manager Brian MacLellan has spoken to Oshie’s reps, but with 11 players with expiring contracts on the roster, it’s unlikely the winger will be re-signed before season’s end.
Given the expansion draft, it may be wiser for MacLellan to wait until after the draft to start re-signing any UFAs. Oshie’s current annual cap hit is $4.175 million and Khurshudyan speculates it could cost north of $6 million annually to re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khurshudyan also noted Oshie recently reached the 30-goal mark this season for the first time in his career, which will only ensure he gets a lucrative new deal this summer. Whether it’s with the Capitals or another NHL club remains to be seen. She cites Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo (seven years, $42 million) and Boston’s David Backes (five years, $30 million) as possible comparables.
The Caps also have to decide if they’re re-signing pending UFA defenseman Karl Alzner, plus they’ve also got to ink restricted free agents Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Dmitry Orlov. They’ve got over $50 million tied up in 11 players. Expensive raises for Oshie, Kuznetsov and Alzner could cost up to $18 million combined. That won’t leave a lot to re-sign other key players and flesh out the roster depth.
I believe they want to keep Oshie, but that could require MacLellan getting creative. One way could be shedding Brooks Orpik’s $5.5 million annual cap hit. He lacks a no-trade clause and his contract runs through 2018-19. MacLellan, however, could be forced to add a sweetener in the deal in the form of a top prospect to tempt a club into taking on the remainder of Orpik’s contract.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance recently examined how the Buffalo Sabres can take the next big step forward in their development. Looking at their roster, he wondered where the growth was coming from. He doubted the Sabres will find the necessary upgrade to their defense corps via free agency. “Perhaps there’s a trade to be made, but the Sabres aren’t deep enough at forward to move any of the significant pieces there without hurting the forward group,” writes Custance. They also need to re-sign goaltender Robin Lehner to a new contract. Ultimately, he believes that improvement will have to come from within.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres GM Tim Murray was reportedly interested in defensemen such as Anaheim’s Cam Fowler and Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba last year. He’ll obviously scour the trade market again in search of blueline help, targeting clubs that could lose a decent-to-good defenseman in the expansion draft (Anaheim, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Vancouver). Whether he finds it, however, is another matter.
Left winger Evander Kane’s been the subject of frequent rumor speculation since last summer. While he’s played well this season, his off-ice issues remains a significant sticking point in any trade discussion.The Sabres could be reluctant to move him now.
Murray could chase Washington Capitals blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk via free agency. However, I don’t think the Sabres will be on his list of preferred destinations.
CSNNE.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty speculated the Boston Bruins could lose either Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller in the June expansion draft. He doubted unrestricted free agents Drew Stafford, John-Michael Liles and Dominic Moore will be back because of the salary cap and the Bruins trending toward youth. Depending on how things go over the remainder of the season, Haggerty suggested the Bruins could revisit trading winger Matt Beleskey to free up cap room to re-sign guys like David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Beleskey’s got three more seasons at an annual cap hit of $3.8 million and a modified no-trade remaining on his contract. Injuries contributed to the decline in his production this season. Still, the Bruins will likely find it difficult to move him summer, especially if the salary cap fails to significantly increase for next season. They could leave Beleskey unprotected in the expansion draft in hopes the Vegas Golden Knights take him off their hands.