The Washington Capitals have re-signed pending unrestricted free agent forward Brooks Laich to a 6-year, $27 million contract a mere 2 days before he was sit to hit the open market. The annual cap hit will be $4.5 million, slightly more than our prediction of $4.2 million, but this exact deal represented the high end of our expectations. Brooksie, aka "Mr. Everything," will be changing tires and crashing creases in D.C. until his mid-30s on this deal.
Now that the Caps are done playing with fire, they can concentrate on re-signing their remaining restricted free agents. The Caps tendered qualifying offers to G Semyon Varlamov, D Karl Alzner, F Troy Brouwer, F Mathieu Perreault, and F Francois Bouchard, meaning the Caps retain their negotiating rights. With the news or goalie coach Arturs Irbe leaving, rumors have flown around that Semyon Varlamov could return to Russia to play in the KHL. Varlamov repeatedly states he will play in the NHL, meanign it's more likely he'd get traded or tendered an offer sheet than return to Russia They elected not to qualify D Joe Finley, D Josh Godfrey, and F Trevor Bruess, rendering them unrestricted free agents come July 1.
The Caps made a big splash at the draft, trading away their first-round pick (26th overall) to Chicago for Stanley Cup-winning winger Troy Brouwer. Brouwer, 25, is a 2-way player who is capable of posting 20 goals and 40 points a year, but more importantly he brings a physical presence on the ice (262 hits last season was 5th in NHL) and veteran leadership even at a young age, with 43 playoff games under his belt already, including trips the the 3rd and 4th rounds in successive years, plus a gutsy comeback this season to force overtime in Game 7 after being down 3-0 to Vancouver in the first-round series.
The Caps used their other picks in rounds 4-7, with the star being Norwegian goaltender Steffen Soberg (117th overall), a tenacious but small goaltender with ambitions of playing Canadian Major Junior next season after taking the top Norwegian pro league's rookie of the year award. Capitals lead scout Ross Mahoney and goaltending coach Dave Prior are very high on him. The other three draft picks are all headed for NCAA Division 1 programs. They were D Patrick Koudys (147th overall pick, will play at RPI next season), C Travis Boyd (177th, U. Minnesota), and D Garrett Haar (207th, Northeastern).
In other news, the Caps have put journeyman D Tyler Sloan on waivers, possibly in preparation for a buyout. They also resigned AHLers G Dany Sabourin and D Patrick McNeill, both of whom have been recalled to the Caps recently. McNeill has the potential to play a few games in DC next season if he can stay healthy.