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Burakovsky may not get contract offer to remain with Capitals

NHL salary cap announcement to precede decision on pending RFA forward, GM says

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

Andre Burakovsky, who can become a restricted free agent July 1, may not receive a qualifying offer from the Washington Capitals.

General manager Brian MacLellan said Thursday that he will wait until the NHL salary cap for the 2019-20 season is announced before the Capitals decide on a course of action regarding the 24-year-old forward and some of Washington's other potential restricted free agents.

That group includes forwards Jakub Vrana and Dmitrij Jaskin, center Chandler Stephenson and defenseman Christian Djoos.

NHL teams have until 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday to make qualifying offers to potential restricted free agents. Those who do not receive qualifying offers become unrestricted free agents.

"We're going to make a decision here after we see the cap number, after we talk to a couple of these agents further after the cap number," MacLellan said.

Vrana, 23, is certain to receive a qualifying offer after finishing third on the Capitals with 24 goals this season. MacLellan said he has had a few discussions with Vrana's agent, J.P. Barry, about a new contract, but that too could be impacted by the salary cap number.

The decision on Burakovsky might be more difficult. The No. 23 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft has scored 12 goals in three consecutive seasons. He had 25 points in 76 games this season and was a healthy scratch six times.

Burakovsky is completing a two-year, $6 million contract he signed with Washington on July 4, 2017. It has an average annual value of $3 million.

Video: WSH@NJD: Burakovsky picks far corner with wrister

There was some talk that the Capitals would trade him before the NHL Trade Deadline, but they ended up keeping him. Trading him before deciding on a potential qualifying offer remains an option.

"We like the player," MacLellan said. "There's been some inconsistencies there, but when he's on his game, he's a good player. We'd like to keep him around, but obviously his name is out there a little bit, so we do talk to some teams about him. But we're not going to move him unless we get something we're comfortable with back."

Washington is not expected to re-sign any of its potential unrestricted free agents -- forwards Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly and defenseman Brooks Orpik -- before the unrestricted free agency interview period begins Sunday.

Connolly, who scored an NHL career-high 22 goals this season, is completing a two-year, $3 million contract he signed July 1, 2017. It has an average annual value of $1.5 million. MacLellan said the Capitals remain open to re-signing the 27-year-old, depending on the price.

"It depends on how the League views him and what kind of contract offers and what kind of role he's going to be presented with," MacLellan said. "I think he's earned the right to listen to all the teams and to see where they fit with opportunity and financially. We're going to talk to him and see where that ends up for him and try and make a decision based on that."

MacLellan also didn't rule out re-signing Smith-Pelly, 27, and Orpik, 38, who has yet to decide whether he will play next season or retire.

"We've talked to both of their agents also," MacLellan said. "We're going to wait until the interview period here and continue to converse with them going forward, see what our other opportunities are and then try to make a good decision based on that."

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