Chimera, Perreault facing crucial contract year

Chimera, Perreault facing crucial contract year
August 4, 2013, 1:00 pm
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Over the last calendar year the Capitals handed out contract extensions to their own players like candy.

Washington general manager George McPhee doubled down on his own roster with 13 multi-year contract extensions from July, 2012 to July, 2013. If restricted free agent Marcus Johansson signs a multi-year extension this month, as expected, that number bumps to 14 players. 

What does that mean for the near future? The Caps won’t be nearly so busy this coming year unless they wade into the trade market. That’s because the only free agents on the team next summer will be center Mathieu Perreault and veteran winger Jason Chimera. And the upcoming season is a big one for both players. 

Perreault, 25, is a restricted free agent, but can push for his own long-term extension if his game takes a leap forward in 2013-14. For now he is again slated to be the third line center.

With veteran center Mike Ribeiro gone, Perreault should see more time on the power play. And that’s a potential career-changing opportunity. Perreault would be hard-pressed to match Ribeiro’s 27 power-play points from last season. He only had three power-play points in 2013 – primarily with the second unit - in 1:11 per game. 

That time on ice ranked seventh among Washington forwards. But his skillset fits with the team’s best players and he is one-fifth Ribeiro’s cost at $1.05 million. Perreault made strides last season under new coach Adam Oates despite a brief benching in March where he sat three of four games. His offensive numbers dropped slightly from .47 points-per-game to .44. With the roster constructed as it is, the Caps probably need at least 40 points from Perreault, if not more. Is he ready for that? 

Chimera is in a tougher position at age 34 and after a down season (three goals, 11 assists). Ironically, that came after he scored a career-best 39 points in 2011-12 (20 goals, 19 assists). But he is entering the final year of his contract and needs to rebound.

Among Caps forwards, only Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer took more shots on goal (92) than Chimera last year so maybe sheer puck luck helps turn the tide again. He remains an imposing skater and a physical presence on the forecheck. But at $1.75 million and as a likely third liner again at left wing, the Caps need Chimera’s production to rise closer to its normal level. They would take 10 goals and 15 assists.