The Washington Capitals extended defenseman Karl Alzner Wednesday to a four-year contract extension of $11.2 million.
This is the only major task that general manager George McPhee had to handle this summer from the free agency side of things, as far as I’m concerned. Karl Alzner is the silent workhorse for the Caps, and he is entering his prime. With the Caps already somewhat shaky on the back-end, extending the contract of a solid shut down defender who is in his prime was an absolute must. I can’t numerically breakdown Alzner’s season any better than the guys (and gal) over at Japer’s Rink did, so here is that link: http://www.japersrink.com/2013/5/20/4332038/2013-season-review-karl-alzner-capitals. This was part of the reason that GMGM didn’t participate much in the rest of free agency; Alzner’s extension was too important, and the remaining salary cap space the Caps have had to be reserved for it (along with Mojo’s, presumably.)
Every off-season, there are generally one or two things for a franchise to do before heading into the next season that are “no brainers.” These couple tasks usually lead fans to frantically pace back and forth until they are complete, because smart fans know that failing to come through on a “no brainer” will always set your franchise back. Certain moves can be discussed and debated, but even fans know “no-brainers” when they see them. This Alzner extension was the Caps version of that this year, so we should all at least award GMGM a golf-clap for this tap-in. Being a D.C. sports fan, I’m well accustomed to seeing my teams go out of their way to blow a “no brainer” move. The habit has been ingrained in Washington Redskins for the better part of my life (stay strong, RG.) I’m still not sure how Ernie Grunfeld has a job with the Wizards. The Nats are still in their infancy, and Orioles owner Peter Angelos tried for a long time to shovel dirt on his club.
Extending Alzner isn’t a move that’s going to lead directly to a Cup, but it’s a move that, if bundled with other similarly smart moves, can lead to consistent contending (FYI: when your high-water mark is the second round of the playoffs, you aren’t contending.)
Karl will remain a Cap for hopefully a while. Other than observing prospects, all that seems left for McPhee this summer is Marcus Johansson’s contract situation, and what to do with it. We will discuss.