There has been a running theme for most of the Caps’ unrestricted free agents heading into this offseason: They enjoyed their time with the Caps, the Caps enjoyed having them, and no one is sure what is going to happen. The same holds true of Justin Williams.
Williams, 35, told CSN Mid-Atlantic on Saturday that he has met with Brian MacLellan and they plan to have another meeting this upcoming week.
“We had a sit down at the end of the year and we also, we have another meeting scheduled this week,” Williams said. “We'll see what's going on. I know he enjoyed having me and I enjoyed having my time here. I think there's just a lot of things that are going to happen in the next month that no one really knows so it's kind of a wait and see for a lot of people including me.”
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The Vegas expansion draft, Washington’s restricted free agents and the NHLPA’s decision on whether to use its escalator clause to increase the league’s salary cap all will have an impact on what William’s future in Washington may be.
Given his leadership capabilities and pedigree of success, it would make sense for the Caps to try to bring him back. The team, however, will be strapped for cash once they re-sign their restricted free agents including Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Nate Schmidt. And, even if there is cap space remaining, MacLellan’s first priority will most likely be to try and re-sign T.J. Oshie who was tied with Alex Ovechkin for the team lead in goals with 33 this past season.
Williams was signed by Washington as a free agent in the summer of 2015. A top-six caliber player with three Stanley Cups, one Conn Smythe Trophy and a perfect 7-0 record in Game 7s seemed the ideal candidate to help the Caps get over their playoff hump. Unfortunately, Washington’s playoff woes continued in Williams’ two seasons as they failed to get past the second round and Williams suffered the first Game 7 loss of his career. Now, he finds himself at the end of his two-year deal and with no clear idea of what his future holds.
“I have no inkling right now whether or not I'll be back,” Williams said. “[MacLellan and I] both expressed our desire to perhaps get something done. There's just a lot of intangibles, a lot of things that could happen in the next month that could change that.”
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