Caps' focus shifts to Johansson

Caps' focus shifts to Johansson
August 24, 2013, 11:45 am
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How much better are the Caps with Grabovski?

One day after officially signing center Mikhail Grabovski to a one-year, $3 million contract, Capitals general manager George McPhee has a single clear task left this offseason. 

That would be re-signing restricted free agent Marcus Johansson, who spent the second half of last season as the left wing on the first line. Barring a trade, it is the last piece of the puzzle before the 2013-14 season begins in earnest. 

“I don’t anticipate any more moves before camp,” McPhee said at a Friday afternoon press conference announcing the Grabovski signing. “We’ve got to get Marcus under contract and then we’re set.”

McPhee never discusses details about ongoing contract negotiations and Johansson’s agent, Marc Levine, declined comment via email to CSN last week. So it’s difficult to know exactly what the hold up is with training camp now just three weeks away. 

Johansson had six goals and 16 assists in 34 games last season. But those numbers are a tad misleading. He had just a single goal and no assists through the first nine games of the season while dealing with the after affects of a concussion suffered during a training-camp collision with teammate Alex Ovechkin. 

Johansson played a game on Feb. 7 and didn’t return to the lineup until March 10 while waiting for his symptoms to subside. In his final 32 games, including the Stanley Cup playoff series against the New York Rangers, Johansson produced six goals and 17 assists while primarily playing on the top line with Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom.

Washington had two restricted free agents to negotiate with this summer. The other, defenseman Karl Alzner, signed a four-year contract extension on July 10 worth $11.2 million. The Caps have about $2.67 million left under the NHL’s $64.3 million salary cap.    

“Sometimes they take a little longer than you anticipated,” McPhee said of the contract talks with Johansson. “But two months ago we had two RFAs and now we’re down to one. Hopefully we’ll get it wrapped up before camp.”