The Washington Capitals reconvene for the start of training camp in less than three weeks, and after inking free agent center Mikhail Grabovski to a one-year, $3 million contract Friday, one significant signing still remains.
Forward Marcus Johansson, one of Washington's two restricted free agents this summer (defenseman Karl Alzner, who signed a four-year, $11.2 million contract extension in July, being the other), still remains without a contract. General manager George McPhee declined to get into specifics Friday and Johansson's agent, Marc Levine, declined to comment when reached via email earlier this week.
“Sometimes they take a little longer than you anticipated,” McPhee said Friday. “But two months ago, we had two RFAs and now we’re down to one. Hopefully we’ll get it wrapped up before camp.”
Johansson is far from the only notable restricted free agent yet to sign; Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Rangers center Derek Stepan, Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri and Senators defenseman Jared Cowen are all still requiring new contracts.
The 22-year-old Swede, hampered by a concussion suffered in a training camp collision with Alex Ovechkin, appeared in 34 games last season, scoring six goals and adding 16 assists. Four of those goals and 15 of those assists came in 21 games between March 17 and the end of the regular season when Johansson skated on the Capitals' top line with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
Admittedly, Washington can take its time in signing Johansson, who has no leverage -- if he had any to begin with -- now that Grabovski gives the Capitals 13 forwards under contract (including prospect Tom Wilson) and Johansson less money to work with (roughly $2.66 million). While Johansson may have been entitled to a contract worth anywhere between $2.5 to $3 million when considering his body of work and comparables, he will have to settle for less unless the Capitals move out a forward, which McPhee said Friday he did not anticipate doing (of course, take that with the requisite grain of salt).
And on the off chance of a holdout, Brooks Laich, previously slotted at second-line center until Grabovski's arrival, could play in Johansson's place on the left side of the top line, as could Martin Erat, leaving control firmly in Washington's corner.
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