Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First look at free agents/offseason

Got a question on the previous post about what the free agent outlook is for this offseason and headed into next season.  I don't have all the numbers right now (surely Tim Leone will be posting something soon enough) but here is what I know...

Under Contract for 2011-12

Dmitry Kugryshev (F)
Dmitry Orlov (D)
Cody Eakin (F)
Braden Holtby (G)
Garrett Mitchell (F)
Dustin Stevenson (D)
Brett Fleming (D)
Brandon Anderson (G)
Keith Aucoin (F)
Kyle Greentree (F)

Of the group I expect all of them to spend some time in Hershey.  Orlov, like Green, Schultz, Alzner, and Calrson before him, will spend most of his time in Hershey with plenty of recalls to Washington.  Eakin, much like Orlov, will likely see some recalls but I expect him to begin the season in Hershey.

Mitchell, Fleming, Stevenson...all will get a shot at Hershey but may end up in South Carolina depending who else is on the team.

Aucoin and Greentree are all but sure things for Hershey next season again.

Holtby is the wild card here.  If the Caps trade Varlamov this off-season, which is possible considering that Neuvirth has claimed the #1 spot in Washington, then Holtby would move up full time to the NHL.  If Varly stays...Holtby stays...simple as that. 

There are other players shown as under contract but uncertainty with their eligibility (junior players) and desire (Gustafsson) leaves huge questions so I didn't include them.  As the calendar turns to May and June we will surely learn more about these players.

Restricted Free Agents for 2011-12

Trevor Bruess
Francois Bouchard
Joe Finley
Josh Godfrey
Mathieu Perreault
Patrick McNeill
Zach Miscovic

I wouldn't be surprised to see all of them return to the organization.  Being that they are restricted free agents the Caps get to deal with them first and can match anything and be compensated if they leave.  No one on this list is going to demand much attention outside of the organization other than maybe Perreault. 

In the end I think they all sign their contract tenders and return to the Bears/Stingrays for 2011-12.

Unrestricted Free Agents for 2011-12

Steve Pinizzotto
Dany Sabourin
Brian Willsie
Brian Fahey
Todd Ford
Andrew Gordon
Andrew Joudrey

This is tough.  I only see a few of these guys returning for multiple reasons.  I think Pinner is the most obvious to resign.  He still hasn't reached his full potential and is still not considered a veteran (only 205 games played). 

For the rest it is tough.  I would think Fahey and Willsie are in good shape as both want to win and the Bears (despite the loss) still give a good chance at that.  But both are veterans and so are Aucoin and Greentree (he just hit that mark this year with 301 total games played).  So that would fill 4 of the 6 spots already. 

Which brings us to Gordon and Joudrey.  Guess what...they are both veterans now.  They have each played 279 games which puts them over the 260 game limit.  That's a problem. 

Obviously Gordon is the most likely to be resigned BUT does he want to come back?  He might get a look as a free agent and get a better chance somewhere else, much like Kyle Wilson did last year.  I don't think he is heading to Europe, like Chris Bourque, but I don't think Gordon returns.  The Caps haven't given him enough of a chance and other teams might give him a long look.

Joudrey has probably played his final game with the Bears.  I hate to say that cause I think he gives his heart and soul every time he steps on the ice but he is very limited in his game.  He regressed a bit offensively this year (who didn't on this team though) and now that he is a veteran it is tough to resign him.  Especially with Aucoin and Greentree already signed.

Ford and Sabourin...who knows.  Ford I think is gone from the Caps thoughts at least.  Sabourin could end up back if he wants to but that depends on the Caps.  If Holtby heads to Washington you could see Dany return to be the #1 while Brandon Anderson serves as the #2 for a season.  Who knows...the goalie situation won't be figured out until the summer.

You may be wondering about players like Lawrence Nycholat, Boyd Kane, Ashton Rome, Maxime Lacroix, Andrew Carroll, Andrew Kozek, Sheldon Souray, Nolan Schaefer, Patrick Wellar, Phil Oreskovic, Johann Kroll, Dylan Yeo, David de Kastrozza, and Joel Rechlicz.

Most of them were on AHL only deals so I don't know the timeframe of their contracts.  I don't think these contracts are ever for more than 1 year so more than likely all of these players are free agents of some sort.

Kozek is still the property of Atlanta.  Souray of Edmonton.  And Schaefer of Boston.  They are not Caps/Bears any longer.

I would bet a large amount of anything that Andrew Carroll is a Hershey Bear next season.  He played great in the playoffs and is a former 30 goal scorer in the ECHL.  The Caps/Bears will likely give him a shot next season.

Same with Lacroix although a bit less certain.  He played well but this is his 2nd go around with the organization and he is a bit older now and less of a prospect.  But he played well enough to earn another 1 year deal.

Kane and Nycholat are veterans so they are lumped in with Fahey, Willsie, Gordon, JoudreyGiroux - he did say he would like to return to Hershey!).  Kane could return as captain as he brings different things to the table.  Nycholat's health has to be a concern now so he might be done.

Everyone else...all bets are off.  They may still be under contract either in Hershey or South Carolina but I doubt it.  They will get a chance somewhere but I am not sure it will be Hershey.

Another part of the question from the previous post was Chris Bourque...he is (as I understand it) still the property of the Washington Capitals. But I am not certain how that works. I think he would be considered a restricted free agent for Washington IF he were to come back to North America to play.

Hopefully that gives you an idea of what might happen this offseason.  Hershey has a lot of players shown as free agents and few players under contract right now.  That is typical of most offseasons but this one feels different.

Next years team will still be strong but it might look drastically different than the past couple of years.


David Ganse said...

Thanks for your analysis. Washington's decisions on their free agents will, as always, go a long way in determining the Bears roster. The clearest example is in goal. If the Caps do well in the playoffs with Neuvirth, I speculate they trade Varlamov's rights to another team for draft pick(s). Given the injury history of the young goaltenders (including Holtby)they will definitely want someone who can be a callup option if they decide to go with Neuvirth and Holtby as their tandem. Sabourin was supposed to fill that role this year but his play only picked up right before he himself was injured. I really thought this season they would have gone after Curtis Sanford instead of Sabourin (who knows maybe they did). Going forward, my first choice for a good NHL recall option/No. 1 AHL goalie would be Joey MacDonald. We may just end up (as Lake Erie did this season) with two veteran goalies and no prospects with Anderson (or Dunn if he is signed) in South Carolina. Again, thanks for your analysis.

Alex said...

Maxime Lacroix was signed to an AHL contract through the end of enxt season, so he will be back, or at least in the Bears pipeline.

Price per Head said...

I'm excited for Braden Holtby! I think he is going to do well