Justin Williams said all the right things after his team, the Washington Capitals, suffered a devastating game 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. “Yeah, absolutely,” Williams said, when asked if he hopes to re-sign with the Caps.
Except… things aren’t that easy in DC these days. The Capitals are certain to be tight up against the cap in 2017-18 and it’ll be tough to fit the 36 year-old Williams into their lineup. Williams, for his part, understands that. “Saying something doesn’t mean it’s just going to happen. There’s a lot of things that go into the offseason here, which I’m sure is not going to be too quiet. So there’s a lot of factors that go into everything, and I’ll probably have a clearer picture in a couple of months.”
So, what might that clear picture look like? Well, decision on Alex Ovechkin’s future aside, it’s almost a guarantee that the team will re-sign restricted free agents Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Any money left over from those negotiations will likely be used to re-sign unrestricted free agent TJ Oshie ahead of anyone else. This likely means that Williams and defensemen Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk will find themselves on the outside looking in. Things could change, of course, and Williams would likely be the easiest financial fit amongst the team’s unsigned players, but as things stand now… well they don’t. Everything is up in the air.
If Williams is in fact done with the Capitals, he’ll finish his stint with 46 goals and 100 points over two seasons, not bad. His inability to get the Capitals past the Penguins in game 7 however, may haunt him for the rest of his career.