Capitals Salary-Cap Relief with Oshie, Backstrom

The Washington Capitals are in a tight financial spot.

With just over $3.7 million in salary cap space, GM Brian MacLellan has tough choices ahead to make the team younger and better before October. On Wednesday, he traded for 25-year-old center Pierre-Luc Dubois from the LA Kings, sending Darcy Kuemper and his $5.25 million salary westward. Younger? Yes. Better? We’ll see.

Even though Kuemper’s contract is off the books, Dubois’ $8.5 million cap hit means Washington’s cap space shrunk by $3.25 million .

Financial Flexibility Needed

So how can they find more financial wiggle room? Two beloved players might need to retire or go on long-term injured reserve (LTIR). Niklas Backstrom played only eight games last season due to a hip injury and is expected to spend next season on LTIR too, freeing up $9.2 million in cap space.

This move would bring their total cap space to about $12.9 million. Dubois fills a gap left by Evgeny Kuznetsov’s trade to Carolina in March. Last year, Washington struggled at center with only Dylan Strome and Nic Dowd as reliable options; Connor McMichael could help but was used as a winger instead.

Fans might think this news is both exciting and worrisome at the same time.

Washington has shown interest in Jake Guentzel, who played for Carolina during the playoffs and is now a free agent, but they’d need more money to sign him.

T.J. Oshie’s Tough Decision

T.J. Oshie might have to make a hard choice too. He’s been dealing with chronic back pain and said he’d only return if his back issues were resolved after being knocked out of the playoffs last year.

If Oshie retires or goes on LTIR like Backstrom, Washington would gain another $5.75 million in cap space, totaling nearly $18.7 million — enough for Guentzel and maybe another player.

Other Options

They could also let unrestricted free agents like Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Max Pacioretty leave. Pacioretty scored just four goals in 47 games last season due to an ACL injury; he wouldn’t be missed much while Aube-Kubel could stay as a depth player despite scoring only 16 points in 60 games.

If they want young talent without spending much, their AHL team Hershey Bears has eager players ready for NHL action — but that suggests a full rebuild which MacLellan doesn’t seem ready for yet .

Washington seems poised for retooling without Oshie and Backstrom so they can stay competitive during Alex Ovechkin’s final seasons .

What do you think about these changes?

Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson is a Senior Writer for HockeyMonitor. With a background in Sports Media, Alex joined the team in 2022. He focuses on providing the latest hockey news, game scores, and fresh NHL trade rumors.

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