Another one bites the dust.
No, not the awesome old-school tune from Queen, but another member of the Capitals' Stanley Cup-winning team is now gone.
Before we get to the why – here’s the what: The Capitals once again got better after these moves, in my opinion.
Losing Connolly sucks. He re-built his career here in Washington after he was a failed top-10 pick. The truth is he probably hit his ceiling here and it’s hard to see him getting 25-plus goals with the Panthers.
Panik had 14 goals and 19 assists last year in Arizona in 75 games. He has 159 points in 410 career games, which is not great, but he adds other elements.
To MacLellan’s point, 11 of Panik’s 75 career goals were scored on the power play and overall, he’s a +3 player in his career. He also has 10 game-winning goals.
Panik is also going to bring a little more speed than Connolly had and is cheaper. Panik signed a 4-year, $11 million deal with an average annual value (AAV) of $2.75 million. Connolly also signed a four-year deal with reported terms between a $3.25 - $3.5 million AAV.
Essentially, Connolly’s days in Washington were better than Panik’s most recent performance, but the newest Cap did once score 22 goals in a season with Chicago, and Washington saved at least $500,000 per year on their cap.
That allowed MacLellan and the Caps to sign a physical forward and fourth-line winger in the 27-year old Hathaway to a four-year, $6 million deal with an AAV of $1.5 million. Hathaway scored 11 goals with 8 assists last year in Calgary. Hathaway is a physical player (200 hits, 27th most in NHL) and his shot percentage was 14.3, a better mark than snipers like Gabriel Landeskog, Anze Kopitar, and William Karlson.
One of Hathaway’s goals last year for Calgary came in Washington on February 1.
Washington also added Leipsic, who had seven goals and 23 points in 62 games combined with the Canucks and then Los Angeles last season. He signed a one-year deal. Four of his 23 points were on the power play, including a goal.
If you combine the production of Panik, Hathaway, and Leipsic just from last year, you get 32 goals and 43 assists for a total of 75 points. If we subtract Connolly, Burakovsky and Smith-Pelly, the Caps are going to miss out on 38 goals and 41 assists or 79 points.
A mostly even swap but Burakovsky, Connolly, and Smith-Pelly would have cost the Caps north of $7.5 million. Overall the Caps figure to save about $2 million and possibly more on their cap sheet, which is enormously important because Washington, like most teams, was operating under an original $83 million salary cap that was chopped down league-wide to about $81.5 million.
In today’s NHL, with a hard salary cap and no phony money like the NFL has, the hard-core financial numbers are just as important if not more important than the numbers that most fans care about.
That’s why the Caps are better today than they were Monday morning.