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Wilson 'big priority' for Capitals to re-sign, GM says

Restricted free agent forward had NHL career highs in goals, assists, points for Cup champions

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Todd Reirden was formally introduced as coach of the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, meaning their next order of business is to re-sign restricted free agent forward Tom Wilson.

General manager Brian MacLellan has had ongoing discussions with Wilson's agent, Mark Guy, and said he planned to talk to him again Tuesday.

"It's a big priority," MacLellan said of re-signing Wilson. "Tom's a big part of our team, a big part of what we got going and our playoff success. So he's No. 1 right now."

Wilson, 24, set NHL career highs with 14 goals, 21 assists and 35 points in 78 games last season. He had 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 21 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help the Capitals win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 43-season history.

Wilson has the right to file for salary arbitration before the 5 p.m. ET deadline Thursday.

"I would like long-term, but we'll see what his representatives want to do," MacLellan said. "I'd prefer to keep him around for as long as we can."

Video: Todd Reirden is named the Capitals' new head coach

MacLellan said he's in discussions with one or two unrestricted free agents and could possibly add a veteran defenseman. Re-signing defenseman Brooks Oprik, 37, remains a possibility.

The Capitals traded Orpik and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche for a second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft on June 22 to clear NHL salary cap space to re-sign defenseman John Carlson, who received an eight-year, $64 million contract. The Avalanche bought out the final season on Orpik's contract, making him a free agent.

"We're talking with Brooks," MacLellan said. "He's making some decisions himself, and hopefully we might be able to work it out."

MacLellan and Reirden are working on filling out the rest of the coaching staff. Assistant Blaine Forsythe and goaltending coach Scott Murray will return. Assistant Lane Lambert will not and could join former Capitals coach Barry Trotz with the New York Islanders. Trotz resigned as coach of the Capitals on June 18 and was hired by the Islanders three days later.

Washington hopes to hire an assistant with some head coaching experience to help Reirden, a first-time NHL coach.

"That would be the perfect fit," MacLellan said. "We're not going to make that a requirement, but if we found a guy who was like that and who could fit in that role, we would do that, yes."

The Capitals would also like to bring back director of goaltending Mitch Korn, whose contract expired July 1. Korn, 60, spoke with the Islanders about a possible position with them, Newsday reported.

"We're in discussions with Mitch," MacLellan said. "He's kind of going through a process of what he wants to do, career-wise. We've expressed that we want him back, and we're just giving him a little time to make a decision on it."

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