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Will NHL players accept owners' offer?

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Will NHL players accept owners' offer?

Let’s start with the truth.

NHL players will not come running back from the four corners of the hockey world to accept the 50-50 split in hockey-related revenue that was proposed by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday in Toronto.

That said, there is a much better chance today of the NHL salvaging a season than at any point in the past four months. Bettman’s 50-50 split across the board is far better than the 47 percent proposed by the owners on Sept. 12.

But it’s still a far cry from the 57 percent taken in by the players under the expired CBA and would require players to have significant money placed in escrow accounts.

Bettman said his proposal would not require immediate salary rollbacks. While that may be true, it likely would require players to place at least 6.5 percent of their salaries in escrow accounts, much like they have in previous years.

That is something many players, including Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, have said they would not accept. Ovechkin has nine years and $88 million remaining on his contract with the Caps and is reportedly making $6 million playing in Russia this season.

Ovechkin has repeatedly stated he would consider staying in the KHL the entire season if it meant accepting a significant paycut to play in the NHL. Other players, including former Caps defenseman Sergei Gonchar, have echoed those sentiments.

So, while Tuesday’s proposal by the owners was a significant one, it only serves as a kickstart to more meaningful negotiations that are sure to heat up in the next eight to nine days.

It is important to emphasize that while Bettman called Tuesday’s proposal the NHL’s “best offer,” he did not call it the league’s “final offer.” It’s also worth noting that Don Fehr called the proposal “an excellent starting point” that he hopes will lead to more significant negotiations.

Here are a few more things to know about the league’s proposal: it is for at least six years; it carries a five-year maximum length on player contracts; it moves the age for unrestricted free agency from seven years of NHL service or 27 years of age to eight years of service or 28 years of age; and it keeps entry-level contracts at three years.

The players are likely to agree on all of those points. But their next move might be going with a less dramatic decline in revenue sharing – say beginning at 54 percent and ending at a 50-50 split in Year 5 or 6.

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Caps' offseason provides little clarity for Stanislav Galiev's future with the team

Caps' offseason provides little clarity for Stanislav Galiev's future with the team

For the last week, I've been recapping all the moves the Caps made in the offseason. Now it's time to talk about the move they didn't make.

Stanislav Galiev spent last season in hockey limbo. Since moving to the AHL would require he pass through waivers, the Caps kept him up with the NHL roster despite not having a clear spot for him to play. As a result, Galiev played in just 24 games last season, none in the playoffs.

When looking at the Caps' lineup for the upcoming season, one again has to wonder if it will be more of the same.

Galiev is a right wing. With T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Tom Wilson and Brett Connolly, just what role, if any, does this team have for Galiev?

RELATED: THE CASE FOR MARCUS JOHANSSON

Part of the problem is that Galiev's skillset is not well suited for the fourth line. He is a skilled offensive playmaker who often struggles in his own end. That makes it hard to crack the lineup under head coach Barry Trotz.

Basically, the traditional role of the fourth line does not allow Galiev to utilize the best aspect of his game. But if you want to move him up the lineup, just who do you move down?

General manager Brian MacLellan has indicated he wants to see an increased role for Wilson this season which likely means he will play on the third line. It also seems doubtful that Galiev would supplant either Oshie or Williams. Thus, it appears as if Galiev could again struggle to make the lineup.

But there is no point to having Galiev spend the majority of the season sitting in the press box as the team's No. 13 forward. At only 24 years old, Galiev is still developing. Sitting him out not only hurts that development, it also hurts his trade value.

After a disappointing season, the summer was expected to bring some clarity to Galiev's future in Washington. Would they trade him, or carve out a clear spot for him in the lineup? Now it looks like the team has done neither.

Another year in the pressbox won't be good for either Galiev or the Caps, whether they want to develop him or trade him. Yet, barring a late summer trade, all signs seem to indicate that's exactly what is going to happen.

MORE CAPITALS: ORLOV, CAPITALS REMAIN IN TOUCH

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Grading the Caps' offseason moves: Re-signing Marcus Johansson

Grading the Caps' offseason moves: Re-signing Marcus Johansson

The quest for the Stanley Cup doesn't begin on the ice, but during the offseason as general managers build their teams for the upcoming campaign.

The Caps have made a number of moves this summer to try to make their team better and get over the playoff hump.

Let's break down and grade each move the team made this offseason to help figure out whether it was the right move for the team.

Today's move: Re-signing Marcus Johansson

Just one year after going all the way through the arbitration process, the Caps and Marcus Johansson looked poised to do it all over again this summer.

Johansson tallied 46 points in 2015-16, just one point shy of the 47 he posted the season before. No doubt he sees himself as a top-six player, but he will likely find himself playing wing on the third line. So for the second year, the Caps had a different value of Johansson than what he could find on the open market.

Both sides began talking seriously on the day of the hearing, howver, and Johansson agreed to a three-year deal worth $13.75 million which carries a yearly cap hit of $4.583 million.

RELATED: ORLOV, CAPITALS REMAIN IN TOUCH

“I'm just happy we could figure it out in the end,” Johansson said after narrowly avoiding arbitration. “To be able to be part of this team for three more years, that's important to me. I think both parties are happy with it. There's obviously the cap in the NHL and you have to find a way to stay under it and we finally came to the agreement that made both parties happy.”

Johansson is one of the most polarizing figures in the organization when it comes to the fans. There are two main reasons for this. First, when he first came into the NHL, he was touted as the solution to the Caps’ hole at center on the second line.

Did he live up to that billing? No. Johansson was not able to cement himself in that position—proving to be more effective as a winger than a center—and joined a long line of failed “solutions” for the position including Brooks Laich, Mikhail Grabovski, Mike Ribeiro, Jason Arnott, Brendan Morrison, Eric Belanger and Michael Nylander.

The second reason Johansson is so heavily criticized is his perceived lack of physicality. While it would be fair to say that the physical aspect of the game has never been his strong suit, it would also be fair to say Johansson was noticeably more physical in 2015-16 than we had previously seen. No one is going to mistake him for Tom Wilson, but he at least showed improvement.

In terms of production, Johansson has proven himself to be a 40+ point player with 44, 47 and 46 points in his last three seasons. With Jason Chimera’s departure, Johansson is now most likely the fastest player on the team. As speed is so important in today’s NHL, that certainly ups Johansson’s value.

Johansson was also one of the few players willing to screen and crash the net this season, one of the few noticeable weaknesses of the Presidents’ Trophy winning Caps team. Again, that is not his strongest suit, but it should be noted that he was at least willing to fight for the dirty goals.

Grade: B+

Yes, I know this one is going to spark some disagreement.

Johansson may not be Washington’s favorite player, but he does clearly provide the Caps with speed and offensive production. The fact that he can also play wing and center is also a valuable asset. When Jay Beagle was out with injury last season, Johansson played well in his place at third line center. That kind of flexibility brings value that most NHL players do not.

Let’s also consider where the team stands and what Johansson’s role will be next season. The Caps are in it to win it. With several contracts expiring and several prospects nearly ready to become full-time NHL players, this team may look very different next year meaning this may be the last year that championship window is open for Washington.

With that in mind, the Caps need players who provide value now. Johansson most likely will play wing on the third line next season. Even his staunchest critics have to admit that having talent like that on the third line is an asset.

Does it come with a hefty price tag? Perhaps. When comparing his contract to other players with a comparable cap hit, Johansson’s production is a bit underwhelming. Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers is signed through 2019 with a $4.5 million cap hit and tallied 59, 49 and 61 points over the last three seasons. Clearly Johansson does not stack up to that comparable.

The Caps were not going to walk away from Johansson in the offseason, however, because there is zero benefit to walking away from a player of his caliber for nothing in return. Of course they were going to re-sign him because it would have been foolish not to.

Is his cap hit a bit high? Yes, but Brian MacLellan was able to sign him and still add Lars Eller and Brett Connolly while keeping the rest of the roster largely intact.

Plus, his contract is not immovable if they decide to move on after this season. Johansson has a modified no-trade clause after the first season of the deal, but he can only name five teams in which he does not wish to be traded. It also does not offer him automatic protection in next year’s expansion draft.

With the Caps still gunning for the Stanley Cup, this team is better for having a player like Johansson on the third line. If after this season the team decides his value is greater as a trade asset, then moving him becomes an option thanks to his multi-year deal. For now, however, it makes all the sense in the world to have a player like Johansson back for at least one more run at a championship.

MORE CAPITALS: GRADING THE MOVES: CAPS FIND OFFENSIVE DEPTH WITH ELLER

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Dmitry Orlov and the Capitals don't have a deal, but have been talking often

Dmitry Orlov and the Capitals don't have a deal, but have been talking often

Specifics on the contract negotiations between the Capitals and defenseman Dmitry Orlov have been hard to come by, but a source confirmed to CSN on Thursday that the team and the player’s agent are communicating on a regular basis. 

Orlov, a restricted free agent who turned 25 last week, is the only player that's expected to be on the opening night roster who doesn’t have a contract. 

Orlov did not file for arbitration, and neither did the Caps—typically a sign that both sides believe that a compromise is within reach. Why an extension hasn’t been hammered out yet, though, remains unclear.

Orlov’s agent, Mark Gandler, declined to comment on the negotiations or a timeline for reaching a deal. 

Last season, Orlov’s salary was $2.25 million and his contract carried a cap hit of $2 million. With Karl Alzner entering the final year of a deal that averages $2.8 million annually, it would be difficult for the Capitals to justify paying Orlov, who averaged five fewer minutes per game than Alzner, more than that.  

The Caps currently have $3.45 million in cap space available, according to GeneralFanager.com.     

Orlov played in all 82 regular season games last season, skating 16 minutes per and registering eight goals and 29 points. However, the high risk-high reward blueliner was benched in Game 1 of the Pittsburgh series for a miscue that led to a goal and was scratched for Game 2 of the six-game second round matchup.   

RELATED: GRADING THE LARS ELLER MOVE