Rumor Roundup: Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and the Washington Capitals

Lyle Richardson
Chicago Blackhawks v Washington Capitals

Possible off-season moves by the Washington Capitals continue to raise speculation in the NHL rumor mill. Much of the focus is on superstar Alex Ovechkin and center Mikhail Grabovski.

The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera reports Ovechkin’s limited no-trade clause (in which he provides a list of ten teams to which he would accept a trade) begins this summer, but the Capitals captain has no intention of requesting a move. Carrera also reports there’s no indication team owner Ted Leonsis could entertain parting with his franchise player.

Grabovski is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. With rumors hinting at management and/or coaching changes this summer, he wants clarity on the situation before negotiating a new contract.

Defenseman Mike Green‘s future with the Capitals is also under scrutiny. The Washington Times’ Brian McNally reports the 28-year-old blueliner has one year remaining on his current contract worth $6.25 million in actual salary ($6.08-million cap hit). Green saw a reduction in his ice time this season and was relegated to the second power-play unit. If there’s a management change this summer, McNally suggests Green could hit the trade block.

Unless Leonsis decides to reduce payroll for 2014-15, McNally believes there’s no reason to move Green to free up cap space. The Capitals currently have over $58 million invested in 21 players. If the cap rises to $71 million they will have over $14 million to re-sign or replace Grabovski and goaltender Jaroslav Halak, leaving enough for additional moves if necessary.

The Capitals can open contract extension talks with Green in July. If he’s willing to accept a lower salary on a two or three-year deal he could be retained. While no longer the high-scoring player of his earlier days, Green can still be an effective second-pairing blueliner.

Green could also receive a compliance buyout. But, unless management intends to dump salary to make room for expensive free agent additions, there’s no reason to go that route. The likely scenario is Green returns next season, while management assesses his performance to determine if he’s worth re-signing.

Teams seeking a big, physical winger with a decent scoring touch should contact Capitals forward Dustin Penner this summer. CSNWashington’s Chuck Gormley reports Penner isn’t fussy about where he’ll play next or what role he’ll be asked to play. “I need a job”, he told Gormley. “I’ll entertain any and all offers”.

Penner, who turns 32 in September, is coming off a one-year, $2-million contract and is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. He doesn’t anticipate re-signing with the Capitals, who acquired him prior to the March 5 trade deadline.

A four-time 20-plus goal scorer, Penner’s production has significantly declined from his career-best 32-goal, 63-point performance with Edmonton in 2009-10. In 67 games split between the Capitals and Anaheim Ducks this season, Penner had only 14 goals and 35 points. Interested teams shouldn’t be under the illusion they’ll be signing Penner for his offense. For clubs in search of checking line depth and leadership, he could be an affordable addition.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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