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Backstrom, Holtby each want long-term future with Capitals

Would 'love' to sign lengthy contract before becoming UFAs in 2020

by Harvey Valentine / Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby each expressed his desire to remain with the Washington Capitals for the long term Friday, two days after their bid to repeat as Stanley Cup champions ended with a 4-3 loss in the second overtime to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Capital One Arena.

Each can become an unrestricted free agent after next season.

"Honestly, I haven't really thought about [my contract], but I've played here my whole career, so I would like to stay here," Backstrom said during the Capitals' break-up day. "I love it here. If they want me, it's a two-sided story."

The 31-year-old center had eight points (five goals, three assists) against the Hurricanes after having 74 points (22 goals, 52 assists) in 80 regular-season games. The No. 4 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Backstrom has 873 points (231 goals, 642 assists) in 895 games in 12 NHL seasons, all with Washington.

He has one season remaining on a 10-year contract he signed with Washington on May 17, 2010.

Video: CAR@WSH, Gm5: Backstrom roofs one by Mrazek

"I would love that," Holtby said when asked if he would like his contract situation to be resolved this summer. "That's not something that I'm going to try and dwell on or whatever. I'm pretty realistic about what goes on in the business and such. My focus is going to be to put in everything I can this summer to make sure I'm ready to help this team win next year."

The 29-year-old goalie started all seven games against Carolina and had a 2.67 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and one shutout. He was 32-19-5 with a 2.82 GAA and .911 save percentage with three shutouts in 59 regular-season games (58 starts). A fourth-round pick (No. 93) in the 2008 NHL Draft, Holtby is 257-108-40 with a 2.47 GAA and .918 save percentage in 420 games in nine NHL seasons, all with the Capitals.

Holtby has one season remaining on a five-year contract he signed July 24, 2015.

Video: CAR@WSH, Gm7: Holtby stops two chances from in front

"They both have a year left, so we'll talk to both of them," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. "We'll have decisions to make as we go throughout the year.

"I don't think it matters (if deal gets done this summer). We'll have conversations and if it feels like it's going in the right direction, then we can get more assertive on it."

Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who can be an unrestricted free agent July 1, said he'll take some time before deciding if wants to continue playing after 16 NHL seasons, the past five with Washington.

"I think before even talking to teams, I think that'll be just kind of whether or not I want to play," the 38-year-old said. "I don't normally start skating until like the middle or late August anyway. I'm in no rush there." 

Orpik missed 29 games during the regular season following knee surgery and had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 53 games. He scored in overtime in Game 2 against the Hurricanes. 

Orpik said he couldn't always do what he wanted to do on the ice after recovering from his meniscus surgery and said the condition of his knee will factor into his decision.

"That'll probably be the main factor," he said. "I think from a hockey and competitive standpoint, I'll want to play. But if I can't get to a certain level then I don't want to do what I did this year throughout the whole season."

Video: CAR@WSH, Gm2: Orpik rips one-timer for OT winner

If Orpik's time in Washington is over, his teammates say they'll miss him on and off the ice.

"It's hard to put into words what a guy like that means to a team," forward Tom Wilson said. "Everything that that guy does has been good for the team. I've said it a bunch of times. He's best friends with the 19-year-old, he's best friends with the 35-year-old. It's just who he is. He's one of the guys on the team who makes it fun coming to the rink.

"We were extremely lucky to have him, and I hope he's coming back. I wouldn't want to play against him."

Washington's other potential unrestricted free agents include forwards Brett Connolly, Devante Smith-Pelly and Carl Hagelin.

Hagelin said he's open to returning to the Capitals, who acquired him in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21.

"We haven't talked about it yet," Hagelin said. "We'll probably get into that in a couple days or so, but I liked the fact that I got a good look from the coaches. I got to play with good players. I got to play in key situations and I felt comfortable here."

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