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Washington Capitals were free agency’s biggest spenders

Jul 7, 2014, 10:08 AM EDT

Washington Capitals Introduce General Manager Brian MacLellan And Coach Barry Trotz Getty Images

Now that free agency has, for the most part, settled down it’s time to step back and see who did the most damage.

No, we don’t mean who improved themselves the most — we’re talking about raw dollars spent. This year’s winner? The Washington Capitals.

Sure there are more players left to be signed, but the big crush is over. Considering no one has been officially signed since July 4, we’ll say it’s pretty much done for now.

As Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post shared and CapGeek.com tabulated, the Capitals spent the most money on new contracts this summer spending $69.65 million on 14 years worth of deals to Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, and Justin Peters.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were next on the list with $64.85 million spent over 15 years worth of contracts. Adding Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, and Evgeni Nabokov didn’t really make the numbers pop but re-signing Ryan Callahan to a six-year, $34.8 million deal sure did.

Rounding out the top three are the Florida Panthers were the next biggest spenders with $60.4 million spent on 18 years worth of deals to Willie Mitchell, Jussi Jokinen, Dave Bolland, Derek MacKenzie, Shawn Thornton, and Al Montoya. While the Panthers broke the bank on Bolland, their total shows every little bit adds up.

The spending of the former Southeast Division foes helped keep the New York Islanders ($57.95 million) and Buffalo Sabres ($46.375 million) out of the top three of the list, but did go to show that making sure to get above the salary floor takes a bit of work.

The Isles added $15.587 million to their cap total for next season while the Sabres added $14.875 million. Those two are distant runners-up to the New Jersey Devils ($18.262 million) and Florida ($17.3 million) to boosting their cap number.

It’s like what Sabres GM Tim Murray has been saying whenever he was asked about whether his team will hit the cap floor or not: “Spending money is easy.” As for the cap floor, only the Calgary Flames have yet to reach the $51 million mark according to Cap Geek and they’re under that by just $563,333.

  1. dipthatchip - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    thanks for improving all Caps fans’ Monday with this reminder.

  2. whiskytango333 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    They took a big swing, no question..but let’s look at their acquisitions. Brooks Orpik is a shadow of what he used to be. Good for him in getting that kind of deal. But how long is he going to be able to give you 20+ minutes a game? This reminds me of the Penguins signing of Scuderi last year….both too long of contracts for that age of player. Matt Niskanen will now be playing against each team’s top line every night. He’s probably up to it, but it wasn’t long ago that his nickname was “Riskanen” because of his turnovers.

    Also, this doesn’t address the fact that Washington has no scoring depth beyond Ovechkin. I think you would see a pretty pronounced trend of Ovechkin playing well vs. Washington winning…and vice versa.

    I’m not saying that Washington doesn’t improve with these moves, but I don’t think these new players will provide the success that Caps fans are expecting.

    • kotteintheslot - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      Pretty much every Caps fan (except Ted and MaClellan) would agree with you there…

      • desertfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:35 PM

        Looks like Ted has lost 100 lbs???

    • ibieiniid - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      The Chimera/Ward line is pretty formidable, with Ward being the scorer… and they were getting 3rd line minutes. If they can get the same production out of lines 1 and 3, while getting better defense, they can make playoffs. Laich staying healthy this year would certainly help their case too. I don’t think their near future is as grim as last season made it look.

    • rsl22 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:59 AM

      The Caps needed defense and they got it. Orpik doesn’t need to play 20+ minutes because the cast around him is strong. This is the Caps best D corp since 1998, so there’s reason to be hopeful.

      I agree scoring depth is a concern. Mojo, Laich and Kuznetsov will need to score at least 15 each, and that may be unrealistic, especially for Laich. Backis also needs to step up after a lackluster year. I’d love to see Burakovsky get time in a top-6 role, but it may be a year too early to count on him. Whoever it is, someone needs to step up to help OV out. I’m hopeful the defense makes up for a lower scoring team.

      • jpelle82 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:45 PM

        so you’re saying they just paid almost 6 million per year to a guy and don’t expect 20 minutes a game from him? how did they get any stronger? their best defender is still karl alzner, their best puck mover is still mike green. they got deeper, but no single addition gained them anything, the cumulative will help in an 82 game season with injuries though…

      • rsl22 - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        They are stronger because last season for the majority of the season they had 3 NHL defenders. When they finally played Orlov it was 4 defenders. Now, instead of playing with 4 defenders, they have 6. That’s a big difference.

        I get it that the Caps overpaid for Orpik, but they had to overpay in order to ice a competitive team. He’s won a Cup and brings size and grit. The Caps needed to do something to end their mediocrity. In a few years, it may hurt, but for now the team is without question better off.

      • jpelle82 - Jul 7, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        the sum of those 2 contracts cripple their ability to add secondary scoring which is now going to be the big sore spot. no caps fan wanted to acknowledge the massive drop off that’s been there since semin left. everybody was focused on the d… and the goaltending the year before that…not to mention it was the gm and coaches’ fault too. well now the d has been “fixed” and they got their established nhl coach….so the secondary scoring will just move to the forefront of issues finally…. or maybe it will be the goaltending again…who knows. trotz had a bunch of 10-20 goal scorers on his teams and a very stout defense and goalie. caps are built just about as opposite of that they could be….a perennial 50 goal scorer and his center then there’s a cliff…followed by inexperienced goaltending, and 6 guys who are at best 2nd pair defensemen. I’d rather they filled holes and added depth with guys that could fill a need for a year or two like a gleason or a stoner while you develop cheap prospects to fill those gaps in a couple years instead of handing out the deals they did. now they still have no one who can score besides ovechkin and no reason for a team to focus on anyone else. half the league already knows they can score on orpik and niskanen still, they hardly strike fear in opposing forwards.

      • rsl22 - Jul 7, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        The problem is the cheap prospects you allude to that could fill D spots don’t exist. The Caps have some offensive prospects, but no one that could be considered a top 4 defender in the pipeline. So they went with expensive defenders in the hope that Kuznetsov, Burakovsky, and maybe Barber or Vrarna can fill in over the next year or two.

      • jpelle82 - Jul 7, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        then i guess the blame goes back to gmgm for drafting a guy like tom wilson in the first round instead of lets say an ollie maatta….buying brooks orpik at that price is something I expected florida or calgary to do…not a cash strapped club that needs goals…

  3. phtjoey - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    to spend is easy. to spend wisely is a whole different story, and to spend wisely they failed….. again. ex: Ovi

  4. stunzeed5 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    HTTR HTTC

  5. hockeyflow33 - Jul 7, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    So they signed away two defensemen from a team known for it’s poor defensive play…that should work out well.

    I’m not a fan of Subban, or his lack of defense, but they would have been better off putting in an offer sheet for him than these two deals.

  6. vbcaps - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    Going to be a hell of a season

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