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Caps Qualify Nine Players

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline for extending qualifying offers to restricted free agents has come and gone. Washington has retained the rights to nine of its 17 free agents by extending qualifying offers to those players. Eight other players now become unrestricted free agents by virtue of not receiving qualifying offers from the Capitals.

Washington retained negotiating rights with defensemen Steve Eminger, John Erskine, Jamie Hunt and Milan Jurcina and forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Jakub Klepis, Brooks Laich, Dave Steckel and Brian Sutherby.

Players making $660,000 or less in 2006-07 receive a 10% increase over their salary of last season. Players making between $660,000 and $1,000,000 receive qualifying offers that are 5% higher than their salaries of the previous season, up to $1,000,000. Players making $1,000,000 or more in 2006-07 receive lateral qualifying offers, the same figure they earned in 2006-07.

Each of the nine Washington players received two-way qualifying offers as stated in the league’s collective bargaining agreement. In order to be obligated to receive a one-way qualifier, a player must have played in 60 or more of his team’s games in the last season AND 180 or more of his team’s games in the last three seasons. For purposes of determination of qualifying offers for 2007-08 contracts, the third of those three seasons reverts to the season prior to the lockout, 2003-04.

Those players not given qualifying offers for 2007-08 who are now free agents are goaltender Maxime Daigneault, defenseman Trevor Byrne, and forwards Kris Beech, Jonas Johansson, Jiri Novotny,  Louis Robitaille, Matt Stefanishion and Joey Tenute.

Players who receive qualifying offers have until July 15 to notify the club as to whether or not they accept the offer. Players with arbitration rights (that list includes Eminger, Erskine, Jurcina, Laich and Sutherby) have until July 5 to notify the club of their desire to exercise those rights.

Players who are tendered qualifying offers can still get offers from other NHL teams, too. Any restricted free agent who is given an offer sheet at $773,442 or below for 2007-08 can sign without his original club receiving any compensation in return. The player’s original club does retain the right to match that offer, however.

Compensation is due the original clubs for players signing unmatched offer sheets for amounts greater than $773,442. That compensation is in the form of draft choices, and it starts as low as a third-round choice and rises as high as four first-round choices (for players signed over the amount of $5,859,412).

Negotiations are already ongoing with Washington’s restricted free agents, a process that will play itself out over the next six weeks or so. Players who choose arbitration may never get to arbitration, and just because all nine players were given two-way qualifying offers does not preclude them from signing one-way deals when it’s all said and done.

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