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Three long-term injuries set to pave the way for Capitals’ off-season




Capitals has entered perhaps the busiest time of the off-season, perhaps the most important of the years, towards the summer that forms the franchise for at least a year, and perhaps even longer.

If Capitals compete for the postseason of the 2022-23 season, they need to navigate the next two weeks carefully and aggressively. Regular season.

And the time to know what will happen in the next few months with these injuries, or at least have an idea, is approaching with this week’s NHL draft and subsequent free agents.

First, Tom Wilson scored a $ 51.66 million cap hit and was injured in Game 1 of the postseason, breaking the left ACL. He is expected to return to the lineup at some point between late November and January after undergoing surgery earlier this summer.

However, while Wilsons’ injuries put the team leader in the press box and deprive the team of physical strength, they are associated with a return to game action, so there is at least some certainty.

The other two injuries are much more serious, much more uncertain, and much more difficult to predict earnings.

Karl Hagerin has recorded a $ 2.75 million cap hit with the remaining year of the deal. He was still trying to recover from the ruptured choroid of his left eye, an injury that almost sacrificed the sight of his eye. Not surprisingly, given the severity of his injury, his future remains unclear.

He said on the day of the team breakdown in May that his eyes would never be 100%, but he’s trying to get back into play by doing everything he can.

Hagelin said in May that he was doing everything he could to get back next year. Still, there are two steps so far, the second almost a month ago (from May 16th). So it’s still a healing time and I don’t know where it will end, but I’m positive and optimistic that I’ll be back again next year. Of course, it will be grind. I will do everything I can this summer to prepare for the camp. “

Finally, there is the Niclas Backstrom, which is one of the most difficult Capitals problems to understand and solve.

Backstrom recently underwent hip surface replacement surgery. This is a complex operation that is not an easy operation to recover at the professional level. He turned 35 in November and will record a $ 9.2 million cap hit in the next three seasons.

If Capitals knows that both Hagerin and Backstrom are not available for regular season action, then those players will clear $ 11.95 million from the salary cap and will be released for Capitals to sign frankly. Can be placed on the long-term injured list. Free agent you want in the next few weeks. Placing both of these injured capitals in LTIR will pave the way for signing major free agents like Philip Foshberg, Nazem Kadri and John Klimberg.

At the very least, you get the flexibility you need to add to all areas of your roster without worrying about exceeding the $ 82.5 million limit.

For each CapFriendly, Capitals has a $ 20,153,334 million cap space, Wilson is on the injured list (his cap hits are counted), and Backstrom and Hagelin are on the long-term injured list (caps for salary cap purposes). The hits are essentially going over there).

Capitals expect Wilson to return to the lineup at some point during the season and will need space for his return, so Wilson’s 5.16 million to count in the salary cap this summer as well. You need to budget $ 6,000. As such, they are operating at a disadvantage this offseason.

Conversely, Backstrom and Hagelin cap hits (especially Backstrom’s) make a great difference for teams to work together if both are unable to play in the regular season.

If Capitals slides Backstrom to the injured list for potential returns during the regular season (and keeps Hagerin at LTIR), there is $ 10,953,334 in cap space per cap friendly. If these two were swapped for the same reason, there would be $ 17,403,334 in space.

If you slide both into the injured list, the number of caps drops to $ 8,203,334 and you need a 13th forward, a 6th and 7th defense, and two goalkeepers on the opening night list.

General manager Bryan McLellan needs to navigate all of this and answer a series of questions related to each scenario.

Do Capitals need to be sure to trigger at the expensive Top 6 Centers, as short-term and long-term health conditions still replace uncertain backstroms? Can Hagelin be medically cleared? If so, would the team choose to play the young Axel Johnson-Fearby instead? Can Capitals exist for months without Tom Wilson, or does his long absence require the addition of the Top 6 Winger?

Capitals believes it will be one of the most interesting teams in the league in the coming weeks, coupled with common questions about players moving forward and backward, and concerns about the youth and uncertainty of the net. I am. And for McClellan, he considers this off-season to be one of the toughest tests he has ever had during his tenure.

But above all, the question is whether Buckstrom, Hagelin, Wilson are ready to be contributors next season, and whether Capitals have to budget for them in a salary cap. The latter looks like a lock when physically cleared and returned. The previous two remain uncertain, and when entering the off-season, it is the capital’s biggest question they have to answer.




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