Thursday, April 24, 2008

Looking Ahead: Capitals 2008-09 Depth Chart

Take a look at who the Caps have under contract and who the pending free agents are.

NOTE: These are NOT meant to indicate line combos, just to show who the Caps have under contract.

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Alex OvechkinNicklas BackstromViktor Kozlov
Alexander SeminMichael NylanderChris Clark
Matt Cooke (u)Sergei Fedorov (u)Brooks Laich (r)
Donald BrashearDave SteckelEric Fehr (r)
Quintin LaingBoyd Gordon (r)Matt Bradley (u)
  Tomas Fleischmann

Shaone Morrisonn (r)Mike Green (r)
Tom PotiMilan Jurcina
John ErskineSteve Eminger (r)
Jeff SchultzBrian Pothier*

Cristobal Huet (u)
Olie Kolzig (u)
Brent Johnson

(u) = Unrestricted Free Agent if not signed by July 1, 2008
(r) = Restricted Free Agent if not signed by July 1, 2008
*Pothier is still dealing with lingering effects from a concussion he sustained earlier this year, and there's no guarantee that he will play next season and his career could be in jeopardy.

In the system but possibly close:
Sami Lepisto - D (Hershey)
Chris Bourque - LW (Hershey)

Recent Draft Choices Not Yet in the Minors, but could fight for spots:
Karl Alzner - D (Calgary, WHL)
Joe Finley - D (North Dakota, NCAA)
Oskar Osala - LW (Espoo, Finland)

See a full list of potential NHL free agents here.

See just how long everyone is signed, and for how much, here.

Who do you keep? There are some tough decisions to be made, especially at right wing and center (keep in mind, Laich and Kozlov can also play center). Also, notice the three restricted free agents on defense, including what has been their top D-pairing this season.

But maybe more of a problem than who they don't have signed is who they DO have signed... Fleischmann is on for two more years. Erskine and Schultz are definitely here for another year. Not saying they should be out, but Jurcina and Brashear are here for another year as well. If they weren't already signed, those are guys the Caps might consider replacing with upgrades on the free agent market. Those guys could also be taking a spot from someone the Caps already have that they might want to re-sign (Fedorov, Cooke, Bradley), or they might be blocking a prospect who shines in next year's camp.

So as much as the Caps might want to go out and nab a bruising, physical defender, they may not really have the option without having to pay someone NHL money to play in the AHL, or just flat out paying them to leave.

And on that topic, one name you didn't see on that list was Ben Clymer, who played all year in Hershey this season but still has another year on his deal that will count about $1 million toward the salary cap.

GM George McPhee has got some tough decisions to make in the next two months...

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