While Washington GM Brian MacLellan’s suggestion that he’d consider trading Alex Ovechkin if the right ‘hockey deal’ came up down the road dominated the headlines yesterday, there were several other topics that came up during his session with the media.
Among those was a note regarding pending restricted free agents Dmitry Orlov and Evgeni Kuznetsov. There have already been reports that CSKA Moscow has expressed an interest in Orlov while KHL teams in general are making a concerted effort to bring Russian players back home and are hoping that the non-Olympic participation could work in their favor. Despite that, MacLellan noted to reporters, including Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Mid-Atlantic, that he’s hopeful of getting deals done with both players within the next month and that they’re open to signing both to long-term contracts.
The cap could potentially stand in the way of both getting longer deals though. The Capitals already have $50MM committed in payroll for next season to only 11 players with several prominent unrestricted free agents (including T.J. Oshie and Karl Alzner among others) on top of Orlov and Kuznetsov which means MacLellan will have a lot of tough decisions to make in the weeks ahead.
Other notes from around the league:
- Penguins GM Jim Rutherford told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News that a new contract for Justin Schultz is his “top priority” when the playoffs end. Schultz took a $2.5MM pay cut last summer, banking on himself to have a bigger year with a full season in Pittsburgh. That’s exactly what happened as he had a career high 51 points. Pittsburgh’s cap situation could come into play though as Rutherford acknowledged that an arbitration award for Schultz – who sits one year from unrestricted free agency – could come in higher than they can afford. Accordingly, it’s likely that Pittsburgh will hope that Schultz will forego going after top dollar to stick with a system that seems to fit him perfectly.
- Top draft prospect Nolan Patrick has been medically cleared to participate in the draft combine that is set to occur this Friday and Saturday, notes NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman. He was dealing with a lower body injury sustained just before the WHL postseason. Patrick is ranked first overall for the upcoming draft by NHL Central Scouting and has already met with representatives from the Devils who hold the first overall pick.