Rather than waiting to see how much salary cap space they would have remaining after signing one or more of a handful of impending restricted free agents, the Caps made a pre-emptive strike on Friday just hours ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft. Washington signed right wing T.J. Oshie to an eight-year contract extension worth a total of $46 million. The pact puts an annual salary cap hit of $5.75 million next to Oshie's name for the next eight seasons.
Oshie was just over a week away from becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his NHL career, but he's seen enough in his two seasons in Washington to sign on with the Capitals for the maximum term allowable by the rules of the collective bargaining agreement.
Faced with the specter of signing five key restricted free agents this summer - including four with arbitration rights - the Caps knew they wanted Oshie back for 2017-18 and beyond, but they also knew he'd command a high salary on the open market. Washington was able to get a deal done now by going to the ceiling on the term side of the extension. Oshie will be 38 years old when his new deal expires at the conclusion of the 2024-25 season.
Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly, Philipp Grubauer, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov will all become restricted free agents on July 1. Burakovsky is the only one of those five players who does not have arbitration rights. Historically, contract negotiations with RFAs - and particularly those with arb rights - tend to drift past mid-July, by which time many of the most appealing unrestricted free agents have already been snatched from the shelves of the league's summer free agent superstore.
Caps general manager Brian MacLellan knows his team is likely to spend right up to the $75 million salary cap limit for 2017-18, but he obviously doesn't yet know what it will cost him to get the five RFAs to sign extensions. After estimating those figures as well as budgeting for the rest of the '17-18 Washington roster, MacLellan determined he could go ahead and get the Oshie deal done now, rather than waiting for one or more of the RFAs to sign first.
The 30-year-old Oshie is coming off one of the best seasons of his NHL career. He netted a career-high total of 33 goals and racked up 56 points in just 68 games last season. Oshie has also posted 10 goals and 22 points in 25 postseason contests during his tenure with the Capitals.
Oshie becomes the third-highest paid Caps forward, coming in behind the annual salary cap hits of Alex Ovechkin ($9,538,462) and Nicklas Backstrom ($6.7 million). The signing leaves the Caps with nine forwards, five defensemen and a goaltender under contract for 2017-18, and (according to capfriendly.com) it leaves the team with just over $17 million remaining to spend on the five RFAs and two or three additional players.
Oshie's contract extension is structured such that he will receive a portion of it in salary and a portion of it in bonuses paid on July 1 of each year. The total compensation starts at $8 million for the 2017-18 and tapers to a total of $4 million in the final season of the pact, 2024-25. Of the total of $46 million to be paid to Oshie over the life of the contract, $26 million is salary and $20 million is in the form of bonuses.
The overall breakdown of the deal is as follows, with figures expressed in millions of dollars:
|Total comp |
|Signing bonus (July 1) |