- The Washington Times - Friday, July 15, 2011

Karl Alzner’s value to the Washington Capitals as a shutdown, top-pair defenseman is unquestioned. Looking at how much money the other players on the blue line are making, it appeared as if the 22-year-old would be destined for a big pay day with his new contract.

What he got was a two-year deal worth $2.57 million — a number many figured would be his annual salary. But that’s missing the point, his agent, J.P. Barry said in a phone interview with The Washington Times.

“A player in Karl’s situation doesn’t have arbitration rights,” Barry said. “[Restricted free agency] is a completely different marketplace.”

Without arbitration rights, Alzner didn’t have much leverage. The Caps had to give the young defenseman a qualifying offer — $826,895 — which is even less than his cap hit this past season, which was $1.675 million.

So as far as the negotiations, Barry said: “The evaluation becomes, what’s the second year worth?”

Barry and Caps assistant general manager Don Fishman spent a period of at least four months hammering out the value of the second year of Alzner’s contract. They agreed on $1.75 million for the 2012-13 season.

“The only ability to take this deal up is to look at the second year,” Barry said.

Barry said Alzner would have accepted the team’s qualifying offer if no deal had been reached by the 5 p.m. deadline Friday, mentioning that most players would have just signed it and come back next year with arbitration rights.

Now, that isn’t a concern, and Alzner gets the security of a two-year deal and the knowledge that when it’s up, he’ll have arbitration rights and a chance to cash in.

“By that time he’ll be in a whole different class,” Barry said.

• Stephen Whyno can be reached at swhyno@washingtontimes.com.

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