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NHL salary cap rises to $75 million, will that be enough for Caps to keep Oshie?

NHL salary cap rises to $75 million, will that be enough for Caps to keep Oshie?

The NHL's salary cap will increase by $2 million next season to $75 million with a floor of $55.4 million, the NHL and NHLPA announced Sunday.

The Players' Association has the option each season of increasing the cap with a 5-percent escalator clause. If they use it, however, it means a higher escrow payment from the players to the league. Had the NHLPA used its full escalator clause, it would have raised the cap to over $77 million. They instead elected to use a smaller percentage, thus the smaller increase to only $75 million.

An increase is good news for the cash-strapped Capitals who need all the money they can get to re-sign their restricted free agents. The biggest question on fans' minds, however, will be whether it is enough of an increase for the team to re-sign forward T.J. Oshie.

RELATED: Which players did the Caps leave unprotected?

Oshie was tied for the team lead in goals last season with 33. As an unrestricted free agent, he is expected to be one of the most highly sought after forwards this summer which means he will command a significant raise, somewhere in the range of $6 to 7 million per year. For a Washington team that still needs to re-sign restricted free agents Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Dmitry Orlov, that just may be too much money.

Had the salary cap increased to $77 million, there was a realistic chance the team could have re-signed Oshie. At $75 million, that may not be enough.

Plus, time is not on Washington's side. Kuznetsov is expected to get a sizable contract and how high his cap hit is will likely determine what moves the Caps' can make. That means that once the expansion draft is over, general manager Brian MacLellan will need to re-sign Kuznetsov and then re-sign Oshie all before July 1 when free agency opens. And that's only if they have enough money to re-sign their other RFAs, which they may not anyway.

The reality the Caps find themselves in is that their young free agents are their top priority. That means they just may not have enough money left for a 30-year-old winger even with the $2 million salary cap increase.

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MacLellan: Caps interested in re-signing T.J. Oshie but a deal is not imminent

MacLellan: Caps interested in re-signing T.J. Oshie but a deal is not imminent

The Capitals are interested in re-signing winger T.J. Oshie, but no deal is imminent, General Manager Brian MacLellan said Tuesday.

MacLellan’s comments contradicted a report over the weekend that suggested a deal between Oshie and the Caps was “all but done.”

“I like Oshie,” MacLellan told reporters in his first public comments since the Caps were ousted from the playoffs. “Of the UFAs, he’s a good fit for us. Again, it’s going to depend on what the salary cap number is and what he’s looking for as his salary.”

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MacLellan also indicated that discussions between the team and Oshie’s representative have not advanced beyond the preliminary stages, calling the talks “general” in nature.

“Just back and forth,” MacLellan said. “I think he likes the situation [in Washington]. We like him. [But] nothing specific as far as term or money.”

Standing between the Caps and a deal with Oshie is the team’s proximity to salary cap ceiling and the club's need to re-sign its six restricted free agents—Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt, Andre Burakovsky, Philipp Grubauer and Brett Connolly. MacLellan said the RFA’s will be his priority this summer as he decides where to allocate salary cap dollars.

“We’re going to have to wait and see what the salary cap comes in at, if the [salary cap] escalator [clause in the collective bargaining agreement] is chosen [by the players’ association] or not,” MacLellan said. “Is it around $73-74 [million] or is at $77 [million]? That will impact what we have left to sign the UFAs.”

Oshie, 30, finished last season with a career-high 33 goals, which was tied with Alex Ovechkin for the team lead.

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Report: A new deal between the Caps and T.J. Oshie is 'all but done'

Report: A new deal between the Caps and T.J. Oshie is 'all but done'

One of the biggest question marks of the offseason for the Capitals may have already been answered. Capitals winger T.J. Oshie was set to become one of if not the biggest free agent on the market this summer, but according to one report, it looks as if he is staying put in Washington.

In an appearance on the "Two Man Advantage" show on NHL Network Radio, Sportsnet reporter John Shannon said Saturday a deal between the Caps and Oshie was "all but done."

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Oshie enjoyed a career year as he surpassed the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career. With 33 goals, Oshie tied Alex Ovechkin for the team lead despite the fact that he missed 14 games due to injury. He would have been a highly sought-after free agent, but Oshie made it clear he wanted to remain in Washington.

“This group of guys, organization, coaches. It’s been a great fit for me," Oshie said at the Caps' breakdown day. "It’s been a great fit for my family. So, I’d like to come back here.”

Now we will have to wait and see just what it will cost.

As one of the top free agents, Oshie would have commanded a huge contract on the open market. Even if he was willing to take a discount, retaining Oshie likely will not have come cheap. Depending on just how much it cost, it may not leave much room for the Caps to work with this offseason.

Oshie will most likely be the Caps' biggest signing of the summer. Considering how good he has been over the past two seasons, however, you won't hear much complaining out of Washington.

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