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T.J. Oshie may have 'legitimate shot' to stay with Capitals

Washington optimistic it can re-sign unrestricted free agent

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals believe they can re-sign forward T.J. Oshie this offseason, general manager Brian MacLellan said Tuesday.

Oshie, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, tied for the Capitals lead with 33 goals during the regular season and had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"If [the NHL salary cap] comes in at $77 [million], we'll probably have a legitimate shot at signing him," MacLellan said.

MacLellan also said coach Barry Trotz would return for the final year of his contract next season but didn't talk about his future beyond that.

"I think we're in a period here of uncertainty where we have to drill down some specific stuff," MacLellan said, "I think we needed improvements throughout our organization, myself included. Once there's evidence of those improvements, a contract extension could take place."

MacLellan said he will turn his attention to re-signing restricted free agent forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky, and defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt, who are expected to take on larger roles next season. Burakovsky will play in the top six, and Schmidt will move into a top-two defense pair. Orlov and Kuznetsov each could get a long-term contract, MacLellan said.

Forwards Justin Williams and Daniel Winnik, and defensemen Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk could leave as unrestricted free agents, clearing roster spots for players from Hershey of the American League, including forward Jakub Vrana and defenseman Madison Bowey. Forward Brett Connolly, signed after he was non-tendered by the Boston Bruins last year, will receive an offer, MacLellan said.

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"I think it's just going to happen naturally," MacLellan said. "Our [restricted free agents] are going to take more ice time. They're going to be a bigger part of this team."

The Capitals won the Presidents' Trophy for the second straight season but failed to make it past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After Washington was eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round by the Pittsburgh Penguins, several players suggested drastic changes were needed, but MacLellan disagrees.

"I think it's tough to make a major change," MacLellan said. "I think it's a lot easier to make this team worse than it is better."

MacLellan said he expects to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie in the NHL Expansion Draft that will provide the Vegas Golden Knights with their players, but hasn't finalized the list. The 30 NHL teams must submit their list of protected players by 5 p.m. ET June 17. Vegas will submit its selections by 10 a.m. ET June 21.

A team has the option to protect eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender,

"We're going to have to react after they pick their player," MacLellan said. "We're going to have to fill a hole. Whatever player they pick, we're going to have to try and fill that hole."

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