The Washington Capitals have been busy since late June, adding four players (Tomas Vokoun, Roman Hamrlik, Joel Ward and Jeff Halpern) via free agency and re-signing forwards Troy Brouwer (acquired at the draft from Chicago) and Brooks Laich to multi-year extensions.
Teams are allowed to go above the cap during the off-season by up to 10 percent, but must be below when the new season begins.
The Capitals also have to re-sign defenseman Karl Alzner and while they do have sufficient space to do so and remain under that 10 percent, they’ll still need to free up cap space before October.
If defenseman Tom Poti (groin) and right wing Eric Fehr (shoulder) remain sidelined by lingering injuries to start the season, the club could place them on long-term injury reserve. That would provide some cap relief, though they’d have to be prepared to clear cap space should either player return.
Another solution is a trade, which team owner Ted Leonsis recently suggested on his blog is a possibility.
No word as to who could be a potential trade candidate, but the names of left winger Alexander Semin ($6.7 million) or defenseman Mike Green ($5.25 million) will once again pop up in the rumor mill.
The pair were mentioned as possible trade bait by pundits and bloggers following Washington’s early playoff exit this spring. The longer the Capitals remain above the salary cap, the more trade speculation will grow.
BOGO NO GO
Prior to the Atlanta Thrashers relocation to Winnipeg, there was talk of management shopping young defenseman Zach Bogosian, whose play had fallen off last season amidst reports he clashed with then-Thrashers’ defense coach John Torchetti.
The trade rumors followed Bogosian to Winnipeg, but Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who took over for Rick Dudley last month, dismissed the speculation, calling the young blueliner someone he hoped to build his defense around.
Cheveldayoff also has a previous connection to Bogosian. The blueliner spent a week with the American League’s Chicago Wolves two years ago when Cheveldayoff was their GM and was impressed with the youngster’s talent.
Bogosian is currently a restricted free agent and his agent, Bob Murray, said his client was excited about the team’s future in Winnipeg and doesn’t want to be dealt. Contract talks are reportedly underway between the two sides.
Bogosian, 20, still has plenty of years ahead of him to develop into a top-pair defenseman, so it’s little wonder Jets management sees him as the future anchor of their blueline.
WHEELER CLOSE TO SIGNING
In other Jets news, the Winnipeg Sun recently reported the club is closing in on a new deal for right winger Blake Wheeler, who filed for salary arbitration earlier in the week.
The Sun also reported Cheveldayoff might not be done tinkering with his roster and could consider going the trade route as the UFA spending frenzy winds down.
While there isn’t much quality talent remaining in the free agent market, Sun columnist Ken Wiebe named forwards Cory Stillman, Mike Grier and John Madden as options that could help the Jets.
Stillman and Madden appear likely retirement candidates at this point in their careers, but the 36-year-old Grier probably still has enough left for one or two more years as a checking forward.
The Edmonton Journal reported Oilers right winger Ales Hemsky joined the prospects this week at the club’s development camp to test out his surgically repaired shoulders.
Hemsky, 27, has one season remaining at a cap hit of $4.1 million on his current contract. He told the Jim Matheson he’d like to remain in Edmonton after this coming season, but Matheson suggested a new deal could cost $5 million per year.
It appears unlikely Oilers management will move Hemsky this summer, but as for his future with the club beyond next summer, they’ll surely evaluate his performance first before considering if he’s worth re-signing and for how much.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey News.