7/27: Washington has confirmed the terms of the contract, highlighting his strong play in the postseason this year in their press release. This could be to build up excitement for a player the team feels still has room to grow into a regular contributor or, as some have speculated, could be a sales tactic for a player who may be on the chopping block for the cap-strapped Capitals.
7/26: The Capitals have avoided salary arbitration with winger Chandler Stephenson. CapFriendly reports that Washington has signed him to a one-year, $1.05MM contract. He was previously scheduled to go for his hearing on August 1st.
The 25-year-old was once again in Washington’s rotation of fourth line players last season. He played in 64 games, recording five goals and six assists while averaging 12:07 per night. Stephenson was a fixture on their penalty kill when he was in the lineup, logging 1:46 per game, good for the fourth-most among Capital forwards. He also suited up in six of their seven postseason contests where he was held off the scoresheet.
With the Caps losing a bit of depth over the summer, Stephenson should have a chance to compete for a full-time roster spot in training camp which would go a long way towards boosting his value for next summer where he will once again be a restricted free agent with salary arbitration rights.
Washington now has some work to do when it comes to the salary cap. They presently sit roughly $1.3MM over the Upper Limit (per CapFriendly) though they could cut into that deficit by carrying a roster size less than the maximum of 23. As Stephenson was their final arbitration case, they’ll have a 48-hour buyout window open up on Monday although with the minimum salary requirement for a buyout being $3.45MM, it’s quite unlikely that they’ll be going that route. Instead, GM Brian MacLellan will likely look to try to make a small trade to free up some cap room over the next couple of months.