By the end of Saturday NHL players are expected to complete the ratification process on the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, officially ending the lockout that began on Sept. 15.
Once those documents are filed, teams will be able to make trades and begin signing free agents. That could spark a flurry of activity leading up to next weekend’s start of the regular season
“It could be,” Capitals general manager George McPhee said when asked if he expects a lot of signings and trades. “I’ve had a couple of calls already, so it’s fun to reconnect with the guys and talk hockey, so there could be a lot of movement.”
With 24 players on their roster and only one player [defenseman Dmitry Orlov, concussion] expected to miss camp, the Caps appear to be set heading into the 2013 season.
“I like our team,” McPhee said. “It’s never perfect and you always want to do more. Ownership always smiles when I say ‘If we had one more guy.’ I’ve been saying that for a long time and I think every GM says it: ‘If I had one more guy.’”
If the Caps wanted to add one more guy, whom might it be? The list of free agents is a long one and includes familiar names to Caps fans, like Mike Knuble, 40, Jason Arnott, 38, Eric Fehr, 27, and Milan Jurcina, 29.
The Caps’ payroll currently stands at $63.6 million, which gives them about $6.6 million in cap space for this season, and another $2.875 million if Tom Poti is placed on long-term injury. That would certainly be enough to sign a veteran to a half-season contract.
The Caps could use another goal scorer on the right side and the most attractive player on the UFA market is Petr Sykora. The 36-year-old right wing played in all 82 games for the Devils last season, posting 21 goals and 23 assists while averaging 16 minutes a night. He’s also very familiar with Capitals coach Adam Oates, who was an assistant under Peter DeBoer with the Devils last season.
Sykora is a two-time Stanley Cup winner [2000 Devils, 2009 Penguins] and has 74 points in 133 career playoff games.