Free agency: What's the Caps' next step?

Free agency: What's the Caps' next step?
July 5, 2013, 4:15 pm
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Free agency: Major moves shake up Caps roster

Well, you can say this about Capitals general manager George McPhee – he’s a man of his word.

After telling reporters he would not overspend on free agents, McPhee allowed Friday’s frenzied day of signings to pass without a single move.

The Capitals lost second-line center Mike Ribeiro to the Phoenix Coyotes, who signed him to a four-year, $22 million deal.

They also lost fourth-line grinder Matt Hendricks, who signed with the Nashville Predators for four years and $7.4 million.

So what’s next for the Capitals at both positions?

If the Caps’ game plan is to allow other teams to overspend on the first day of free agency, it’s possible they survey what’s still available on Day 2.

Among the free-agent centers still remaining is Mikhail Grabovski, a compliance buyout of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who bought out the final four years of his contract at $14.33 million.

Grabovski set career highs in 2010-11 when he recorded 29 goals and 29 assists, but struggled last season with nine goals, seven assists and a minus-10 rating in 48 games.

Grabovski went out with a bang in Toronto, saying the Leafs “made a mistake” by buying him out and calling coach Randy Carlyle an “idiot” for not using him in a scoring role.

Grabovski, who was married on Friday, said he would use Toronto’s buyout as motivation with his next team, but as of late Friday he remained unsigned.

Derek Roy, 30, was also still on the board late Friday. He managed seven goals and 21 assist with Dallas and Vancouver last season, but recorded 17 goals and 27 assist sin his last full season in Buffalo, where he set career highs in goals [32] and points [81] in 2007-08.

If the Caps decide to stay away from free agency altogether -- they may have just $3.5 million in cap space after re-signing restricted free agents Marcus Johansson and Karl Alzner -- Brooks Laich likely would be their best option to replace Ribeiro at No. 2 center.

By losing Hendricks, the Caps parted with one of the most popular and respected players in the dressing room. They will likely look to Aaron Volpatti to fill the role of fourth-line enforcer, and will give Michael Latta a long look at training camp after acquiring him in the deal that brought Marty Erat from Nashville.

Latta, 22, recorded 10 goals and 28 assists last season, along with 198 penalty minutes, with Milwaukee and Hershey of the AHL.

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