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Caps ink two more college free agents on Tuesday

Caps ink two more college free agents on Tuesday

The Caps inked a couple of college free agents on Tuesday, signing defenseman Kris Bindulis and center Hampus Gustafsson to entry level contracts.

Bindulis agreed to a three-year deal, while Hampus’ pact is for two years.

Both players will report to Hershey on a tryout agreement for the remainder of this season.

The Caps have been aggressive so far in the college free agent market.

A week ago, the club signed Alaska-Anchorage forward Mason Mitchell to a two-year deal entry level deal.

Listed at 6 foot 3, 180-pounds, Bindulis had a goal and 11 assists in 28 games as a freshman for Lake Superior State this season. 

Prior to Lake Superior State, Bindulis played for Aston of the North American Hockey League, where he served as the Rebels’ home captain and registered 10 goals and 36 assists in 57 games.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman called the 21-year-old Lativian “raw” but “talented.” Bindulis also participated in the Capitals development camp last year.

Gustafsson, meantime, amassed 15 goals and 11assists in 36 games for Merrimack College this season, leading the Warriors in goals and ranking second in points.

Listed at 6 foot 4, 205-pounds, the 23-year-old Swede is a nominee for the 2017 Hobey Baker Award and served as an alternate captain for Merrimack the last two seasons. In his four-year college career, he recorded 87 points (38 goals and 49 assists) in 146 career games.

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Caps issue qualifying offers to RFAs, Brett Connolly not tendered

Caps issue qualifying offers to RFAs, Brett Connolly not tendered

The Capitals have extended qualifying offers to seven players, including forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and backup goalie Philipp Grubauer, the team announced Monday.

By issuing the one-year tenders, the Caps secure the right of first refusal or draft pick compensation should a player sign an offer sheet with another team.

Bottom six-winger Brett Connolly did not receive a qualifying offer. The sides are negotiating, CSN is told, and the team still expects to re-sign him. If no deal is in place by July 1, however, the 25-year-old becomes a free agent.

RELATED: Development Camp: 5 players to watch

Connolly scored a career-high 15 goals in 66 games last season, his first in Washington, but was a healthy scratch in the second round of the playoffs.

MacLellan said last month that the Caps and Connolly’s agent have been close to an agreement “a couple of times” and that he views Connolly as “a young guy who still has some upside.”

On Saturday, MacLellan indicated that negotiations with the team’s RFAs are progressing.

“Hopefully we’ll get a few of them done in the next few weeks,” MacLellan said, speaking at the draft.

He added: “We’re working at ‘em. As we get closer to the deadlines, a little more urgency might come in and hopefully we’ll hopefully get them done.”

The deadline for player-elected salary arbitration is July 5. The deadline to accept qualifying offers in July 15.

MacLellan said in May that he’d be open to signing cornerstone youngsters Kuznetsov and Orlov to long-term extensions. Meanwhile, Burakovsky, Grubauer and Connolly are candidates to receive bridge deals as they continue to prove themselves.  

Also on Monday, Washington extended qualifying offers to forward prospects Liam O’Brien, Chandler Stephenson and Travis Boyd. All three were recalled from Hershey last season, though Boyd did not appear in a game.

Minor league defensemen Darren Dietz and Cody Corbett did not receive qualifying offers and, thus, become free agents on Saturday.

MORE CAPITALS: Four 2017 draftees among prospects attending development camp

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Development Camp players to watch: Who will emerge as the next Capitals star?

Development Camp players to watch: Who will emerge as the next Capitals star?

This year’s development camp for the Capitals will not include some of the bigger-name prospects such as Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey or Christian Djoos. There is only so much the team can learn from players competing against other prospects making multiple return trips unnecessary.

The storylines for those players will play out in Caps' training camp in September and October. But, this camp still provides plenty of players for fans to keep an eye on.

Shane Gersich, F

Gersich enjoyed a breakout sophomore season at North Dakota last year with 21 goals and 37 points in 40 games. He was in the conversation for the Hobey Baker Award for the top college player in the nation through the first half of the season and highlighted his skills with an overtime goal off an incredible spin move. As a fifth-round pick, not much was expected of Gersich, but perhaps he showed last season that there is more untapped potential in him than once thought. Was last season an anomaly or evidence that the team may have something here?

RELATED: Four 2017 draftees among prospects attending development camp

Jonas Siegenthaler, D

The Swiss defenseman is one of the more highly touted prospects in the entire organization. He always seems to dazzle in international play, including the 2017 World Junior Championship, but his play has been spotty whenever he has comes to North America. Whether he can adjust to the North American game may be the biggest question facing his NHL potential. Siegenthaler dealt with a family issue in Washington's training camp last season which seemed to affect his play. The team will no doubt feel better about his NHL future if he can shake that off and show what he can do on this side of the pond this week.

Connor Hobbs, D

Hobbs turned a lot of heads last season with the performance he put on in the WHL. He tallied 31 goals and 85 points in 67 games as a defenseman. That’s an incredible rate of production. He can utilize both his booming slap shot and sneaky wrist shot from the blue line to score or set-up the offense. His defensive acumen needs some work, but he has clearly and quickly established himself as a high-potential player.

Lucas Johansen, D

The Caps’ first-round pick from last season, the team remains very high on Johansen and is also in serious need of some help on the blue line. Barring a miraculous performance at training camp, Johansen will likely not going make it to the NHL to start this season, but development camp should give us a glimpse of whether he has surpassed the talent of the young prospects and if he could be ready to make his NHL debut sooner rather than later.

Tobias Geisser, D

Do not underestimate the damage a lost draft can cause. Washington had only four picks in this year's draft which concluded on Saturday. The first player the team took was Geisser in the fourth round with the 120th overall pick. Just to put that in perspective, in 2012 the Caps made five selections before 120. The Caps need value to emerge somewhere from the four players they drafted and Geisser seems the most likely. He has great mobility for his size and is good on the transition which should translate well in today’s NHL. How he performs against fellow NHL hopefuls this week will show the team a lot about his potential.

CSN will be your source for the latest development camp coverage as our reporters and cameras will be on hand all week to report on the action. Be sure to check out our development camp show on CSN on July 20 as we recap all the action and give our insights into what the future may hold for the team's prospects!

MORE CAPITALS: Caps lineup projection: How do the Caps replace Schmidt?