- The Washington Times - Friday, July 8, 2011

In trading Eric Fehr to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday afternoon, the Capitals cleared $2.2 million off the books for next season. Logically it seems that’s the move they need to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Karl Alzner.

But according to his agent, there’s still a “gap” to close between the two sides before a new contract is agreed upon.

“We haven’t been able to sort of bridge the gap for evaluating Karl’s value for next season,” J.P. Barry told The Washington Times.

Alzner’s status has become the last big unanswered question of the offseason for the Caps. They went out and got a bunch of veterans in free agency and brought back forward Brooks Laich with a six-year contract.

Barry joked less than an hour after the Fehr trade that he and Caps assistant general manager Don Fishman haven’t talked yet — but Alzner’s agent did say a lot of work has been done in negotiations.

“It’s not a really wide gap,” he said. “We’ve worked hard to narrow it over time.”

It will likely be a two-year deal if and when the two sides can come to an agreement. A one-year pact would mean the two sides would be in the same place next year as Alzner would again be a restricted free agent, and a longer deal is even harder to hammer out.

Barry wouldn’t confirm how far the two sides are apart. Speculation is that Alzner could be worth anywhere in the neighborhood of $2.5 million to $3 million annually. With the trade of Fehr (and assuming defenseman Tom Poti is placed on long-term injured reserve), the Caps would have just over $3.2 million left under the salary cap.

July 15 is the big deadline when it comes to Alzner — “At that point in time he can either accept or not accept and stay out there as a restricted free agent,” Barry said.

As a restricted free agent, Alzner is open to offer sheets, but Barry said he has not received one from another NHL team. If Alzner were to sign an offer sheet, the Caps would have 10 days to match or would receive compensation.

Since a deal has not been reached between the Caps and Alzner, rumors of the team trading his rights are swirling. There was one on Friday that had Washington sending Alzner’s rights and Alexander Semin to the Canadiens for Yannick Weber, Andrei Kostitsyn and a first-round pick.

Barry said he hadn’t even heard of that.

“That’s the hard part about the summertime — there are lots of rumors and maybe one in 10 are true,” he said.

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