Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Qualified Offers

Yesterday at 5 pm was the deadline for qualifying offers to RFA's in order for teams to retain their rights and keep them restricted. The Caps Qualified nine players and there was a little bit of surprise.

I didn't think the Caps should or would qualify John Erskine Bowles but they did. Here was a guy who didn't get a contract from anybody until the night before training camp last year and now we're worried that he might become a hot commodity? What the guy did to merit a raise is beyond me.

The other surprise is that Jiri Novotny wasn't qualified. He (along with Kris Beech) now becomes a UFA. In all honesty, Novotny was not very impressive after coming over in the Dainus Zubrus trade. And when you take a look at the what the Caps did this weekend in Columbus, we've now traded Dainus Zubrus now for a second round pick in this year's and next year's draft should Novotny end up elsewhere. I didn't like the return on the trade then and I'm liking it even less now.

Now the Caps could get Novotny back but he'll get a raise anyway as the league minimum increases from $450K to $475K. So the Caps could be trying to save a few pennies here as a 10% raise would pay Novotny $495K instead of the new minimum of $475K.

Otherwise, no big surprises as to who was qualified and who wasn't. The qualified players who have arbitration rights; Steve Eminger, John Erskine Bowles, Milan Jurcina, Brooks Laich, and Brian Sutherby have until July 5th to file for arbitration. All RFA's have until July 15th to accept their qualifying offers. Should any of these Caps head to arbitration, they stand little chance of breaking the Caps budget.

BTW, between 9 am this past Saturday morning and 10 pm this past Sunday night, I drove over 216 miles. That's why my buddy Sparky from Washington Hockey.com had to fill me in on Rod Langway saying that the Caps have agreed to a nine year contract extension with A.O. which will be announced on July 1st (the first day the Caps can sign A.O. to an extension).

If this is true, this is a good move for the Caps for a number of reasons.

First of all, with the contracts that have been flying around lately, this is about what the Caps would have to do to keep A.O. long term. Secondly, A.O. isn't Alexi Yashin or Jaromir Jagr so the length shouldn't scare anybody. It also puts pressure on the Penguin Scum when it comes to getting the Captain of the Canadian Diving Team, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby, on an extension as well. Whoever signs first will set the market for the other and it is better for the Caps to set the market than to have the market set for them. Finally signing A.O. to a long term contract like that demonstrates a seriousness to the team, fans, and potential free agents pick-ups that the Caps are serious about building a contender. The Caps need that credibility right now.

We'll still have other important free agents to take care of next year but I don't think it is out of line to say that A.O. is the most important one. We'll wait and see Sunday morning to find out if A.O. has been given a nine year extension like Langway said. I hope he's right.

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