With a little more than two weeks on the job, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan spent much of Wednesday introducing himself to the league’s other 29 general managers at the NHL GM meetings in New York.
Some of those conversations may have laid the foundation for trade talks leading up to the June 27-28 NHL draft in Philadelphia, where MacLellan will begin making his mark as George McPhee’s successor.
MacLellan has a long To-Do list leading up to the draft, but it appears using the Caps’ one remaining amnesty buyout is not on it.
Through a Capitals’ spokesman, MacLellan told CSNWashington that there have been “no discussions” of buying out veteran center Brooks Laich and that he is “an important part of our team.”
Meanwhile, the agent for veteran defenseman Mike Green, Don Meehan, said in a text that he has not had “any such communication from Washington” seeking a buyout.
Green, who turns 29 in October, has one year remaining on a contract that pays him $6.25 million next season. Laich, who turns 31 on June 23, has three years and $12.5 million remaining on his contract with the Caps. He’ll earn $4.5 million next season and $4 million in each of his final two years.
With the Capitals unlikely to use their one remaining compliance buyout, MacLellan’s next order of business may be renewing contract talks with Gary Greenstin, the agent for center Mikhail Grabovski.
Two summers ago Grabovski signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract ($5.5 million cap hit) with the Toronto Maple Leafs, only to be bought out by the club last summer at a rate of $14.33 million, roughly $1.8 million a year for eight years.
Technically, Grabovski took a pay cut last season when he signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Capitals, bringing his annual salary from $5.5 million to roughly $4.8 million.
[RELATED: Agent: Laich not a buyout candidate for Caps]
Grabovski hopes to cash in as an unrestricted free agent this summer. He is believed to be seeking a four- or five-year deal worth $5 million a season, which, including his buyout payout, would bump his annual salary to $6.8 million -– not a bad deal for a guy who has topped 20 goals just twice in his NHL career.
Depending on where they see Evgeny Kuznetsov fitting into their lineup, the Capitals could be in need of a second-line center, but may be hesitant to give Grabovski what he believes he’ll get on the open market. Grabovski said he and his family enjoyed living in Washington and his decision to stay would be based on the next coach of the Capitals.
Barry Trotz plays a possession style game, which should be a perfect fit for Grabovski, who could be matched with Kuznetsov and either Troy Brouwer or Marcus Johansson on a second line.
Since NHL teams may begin negotiating with potential UFAs on June 25, the clock on the Capitals re-signing Grabovski or replacing him with someone else is ticking.
The free-agent pool of centers is relatively shallow this season, with Colorado’s Paul Stastny leading a group that includes David Legwand, Olli Jokinen, Derek Roy, Steve Ott, Brian Boyle and Dave Bolland.
It’s also possible the Los Angeles Kings would buy out center Mike Richards, who has six years and $29 million remaining on his contract ($5.75 million cap hit). Richards is on the verge of winning his second Stanley Cup with the Kings and would probably command a contract similar to the one Grabovski is seeking.
If that is the case, would the Caps be better off trying to re-sign Grabovski or going after a player like Richards, Stasnty, Legwand, Bolland, Boyle or Ott?
There is another signing deadline facing MacLellan and the Capitals. NHL teams have until Sunday, June 15 to sign players who are currently under contract in the Swedish League and the Capitals reportedly have an eye on Daniel Rahimi, a 6-foot-3, 216-pound, 27-year-old defenseman for Linkoping.
A third-round pick of the Canucks in 2006, Rahimi spent two years in the AHL and ECHL before returning to Sweden, where he recorded one goal and eight assists in 48 games this season as a hard-hitting, stay-at-home defenseman.