The Caps have signed defenseman John Erskine to a two-year extension and the deal is worth $1.25 million per season, according to a team source. Erskine, 28, has six goals and 22 points in 226 games for three teams in his career, though he is known more for his toughness and defensive play than his scoring touch.
Erskine would have been a free agent this offseason will more than double the $550,000 he is making this year. Those who have been critical of Erskine’s play will certainly not like this deal. It is at least a little peculiar at this point in time.
It is clear at this stage in Erskine’s career he is unlikely to be more than a No. 5/6 defenseman on a good team, which the Caps expect to be for the next several years. Most teams will try to fill the the last couple slots on the blue line with cheaper players, and that is where the Caps’ depth in the system is supposed to come into play. GM George McPhee has talked at length about how great it will be for the organization to have young (and cheap) talent to help plug holes and keep the team under the salary cap. That said, guys like Josh Godfrey and Joe Finley are going to have a tough time cracking the lineup if the Caps continue to lock up their competition to multi-year deals. Erskine has also been a frequent candidate to be scratched the past two seasons … will Bruce Boudreau be willing to scratch a $1.25 million player next season?
McPhee has done a very good job of locking in players like Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green while adding players around them without putting the team in “cap hell” as it is often called in the NFL (and in Anaheim). That said, there have been a couple of contracts of this nature (Ben Clymer and maybe to a lesser extent Matt Pettinger) that haven’t worked out. It should be pointed out that people questioned the Tomas Fleischmann extenstion last season, and he appears to be on a path to making McPhee look smart. We’ll see if John Erskine does the same.