Staying under salary cap best move for Capitals

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Cheers and Jeers,Brian McNally

The Capitals are just about set for the 2012-13 season -- if and whenever it begins. Let us know when that new collective bargaining agreement is finally agreed upon by NHL owners and players. But with defenseman Mike Green now signed to a three-year contract extension at a $6.083 salary-cap hit, there is only one player left to re-sign: defenseman John Carlson, a restricted free agent.

Carlson doesn't have much leverage as a 22-year-old without arbitration rights, so it's hard to imagine him getting paid more than $2 million a year. With that in place, the Caps will have the basic framework of their salary structure for next season: about $58.75 million. That won't include the $2.875 million paid to veteran defenseman Tom Poti, who may never play a game during the two-year contract extension that began last fall.

Depending on the exact roster they choose, the Caps would be about $11.4 million under the salary cap -- a huge number going into a season and one that leaves them with options. But it's not that simple. The salary cap for 2012-13 is unknown. It stands at $70.2 million right now. The new CBA could shrink that significantly if the owners have their way and leave teams fighting to shed money during training camp.

So don't expect unsigned free agent winger Alexander Semin to return -- unless it's for extremely cheap -- or any other splashy moves that would add more salary for that matter. Washington already has re-signed Green and traded for center Mike Ribeiro ($5 million). In this unstable environment, staying comfortably under the unknown cap is probably the best move a team can make.

- Brian McNally

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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Brian McNally

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner