Can the Washington Capitals re-sign unrestricted free agent to be Brooks Laich?

Once upon a time when I was taking in a live NHL game at HSBC Arena in Buffalo (because it’s about 1/8 the cost of doing so in Toronto, if you’re asking) I was tagged with the task of reloading the beer supply for myself and two others before cutoff time. When I got to the vendor it had dawned on me that the venues in which I attend live sporting events in Toronto do not permit the purchase of more than two alcoholic beverages at one time. So I half posed/stated the following to the beer vendor: “I can’t carry six beers, can I?”

Her response was both sarcastic and on point: “I don’t see why you can’t as long as you’ve got $40″. Like the dilemma I ostensibly created for myself, the Washington Capitals ability to re-sign Brooks Laich is really just about whether or not they’ll have the financial wherewithal to get a deal done.

There is some cap relief in sight for Washington, with nearly $15 million scheduled to come off the books in the form of other UFAs Jason Arnott, Scott Hannan, Matt Bradley, Marco Sturm and a couple of other bodies. Laich will be looking for a raise from his expiring deal that saw him come in at a very reasonable cap hit of $2,066,667. The cost of keeping Laich will most likely mean saying goodbye to most of those guys.

Laich’s versatility as a player and ‘fan favourite’ status have made him a valuable commodity for the Capitals, thus compelling George McPhee to make re-signing him a priority. Laich’s comments to Mike Vogel in a recent interview give off the impression that Washington would be his preferred destination moving forward.

Transcription via D.C. Sports Bog:

“The season’s over now, and obviously people are gonna start talking,” Laich said. “I’m unrestricted, but sitting here today and talking to you, it certainly to me doesn’t feel like this is my last day at Kettler [Caps practice facility] or that I’ve played my last game as a Washington Capital. That’s how it feels. I don’t foresee that in my brain. It doesn’t process like that.”

“But I’m not the one that makes the decisions, really. I’ll talk with my agent and we’ll discuss going forward, because there are some options. But ultimately if the organization wants me back, they have the cards. I’m sure they’re gonna talk. It’s tough; I’ve never been to unrestricted free agency before and I don’t really know what to expect. But to me, it doesn’t feel like I’ve played my last game as a Capital.”

Laich’s name has been bounced around 29 other team based message boards as a free agent target come July 1, and the 27-year old forward would probably command some decent cake on the open market – but it’s plausible that he may take a ‘hometown discount’ to remain with the Capitals.

Laich was one of the better Capitals during the team’s abbreviated playoff run with an impressive 2.76 Points/60 minutes and he was leaned upon fairly heavily to take draws in his own zone. We don’t put a lot of stock in ‘intangibles’ around here but Laich’s reputation as a leader should also give him some leverage to climb up the salary charts, despite dipping below the 20-goal plateau for the first time in three seasons.

Your move, McPhee…

With statstical information from and salary cap data via CapGeek