After the first day of NHL free agency, here’s a look at the Washington Capitals players who are gone and the new ones signed to fill the holes:
Semyon Varlamov: The Caps performed perhaps one the biggest heists of the summer, acquiring a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-rounder in 2012 or 2013 from the Avalanche for Varlamov’s rights (he’s a restricted free agent). Said Washington general manager George McPhee: “We were hoping to have Semyon back this year and play a full season so we could get that kind of value for him next summer because we knew next summer we were gonna have to do something with one of the goaltenders. But we got that value now. Given the injuries, I was surprised that we got it now, but it was a good deal for Colorado. They got a kid who’s got lots of upside, and if he can stay healthy, he’ll be really good for them.”
Boyd Gordon: Bruce Boudreau will miss Gordon, his top faceoff guy and penalty killer and fourth-line center. But he can’t be too upset after seeing the 27-year-old receive a two-year deal from the Coyotes worth $2.65 million. “It was a great offer and I think a good opportunity,” Gordon said.
Marco Sturm: It never looked like Sturm would be back with the Caps, but the 32-year-old left wing got a nice contract from the Canucks — $2.25 million for one year.
Others: Scott Hannan, Jason Arnott and Matt Bradley went unsigned on July 1, but none are expected to be back in Washington, especially given the team’s moves.
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Roman Hamrlik: With McPhee and Boudreau blaming injuries on defense for losing to the Lightning, signing Hamrlik to a deal worth a reported $7 million over two years could be one possible solution. Hamrlik is 37 years old, but he hasn’t played fewer than 75 games in each of the past five years, spent with the Flames and most recently the Canadiens. And he gives the Caps something else they were lacking — offense. “While we like being able to have shutdown D I think you’re better off with guys that can shut down and generate offense and move the puck and you can put them out on the second power play and that sort of thing,” McPhee said. The Caps’ GM said Hamrlik could be a good fit with Mike Green.
Joel Ward: If it’s become a matter of turning the Caps into a better playoff team as many believe, inking Ward is a nice step. The 30-year-old right wing (who can play a little center) had 13 points in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Predators this past spring. His agent, Peter Cooney, said 20 teams showed interest, and McPhee conceded he probably paid 15 percent more than he figured because 16 teams were in on Ward. “He really excels — at least the last couple years he’s excelled — in the playoffs,” McPhee said. “I’d rather have someone that gets 10 to 15 in the regular season and delivers in the playoffs — than someone who gets 25 and doesn’t.” Ward’s deal is worth $12 million over four years.
Jeff Halpern: The Caps will count on the 35-year-old — who was the captain in Washington in 2005-06 to fill Gordon’s role and provide even more offense. McPhee pointed out 26 points from Halpern last year with the Canadiens is much more than Gordon put up in Washington (nine), and he’s a guy who provides versatility and veteran leadership. “It was a great bounce-back year, I thought, for him,” Boudreau said. “He played a lot, and he’s a guy that can move up and down the lineup.” His deal is for one year at $825,000.
In case you were wondering, McPhee said the Caps are now done shopping.
“The holes are filled, and if other opportunities come up to do some things, we can measure them,” he said. “But in terms of going out and making offers, we’re done.”