Originally posted on Fox - The Hockey Guy  |  Last updated 5/17/12
Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter returned home to London and the Ontario Hockey League, to nobody’s surprise. Numerous free agent issues hang over the franchise.Are the Capitals true Stanley Cup contenders? Are they a player or two away. Or is a major overhaul in order?Consider all the variables:General manager George McPhee sounds like he will make some major personnel decisions before hiring his next coach. Will he look for an offensive minded coach to open up scoring or another defensive-minded leader like Hunter? Devils assistant coach Adam Oates, veteran NHL head coach Ron Wilson and AHL coaches Marc French and John Hynes are some of the possibilities. Offensive-minded winger Alexander Semin seems eager to move on after failing to earn a significant role this season. Neither Hunter nor predecessor Bruce Boudreau liked his work this season. Semin, in turn, bristled at his reduced playing time. Agent Mark Gandler insists his client won’t consider returning to Washington as a free agent unless he was guaranteed a prominent role. “He doesn’t want to be a part-time player, a role player. He wants to be a full-time player,” Gandler told the Washington Post. “Over the course of the year he tried to do what he needed to do to continue to play, play as well as he could under the circumstances . . . So while it was hard, Alex was a team guy, he tried to play whoever he plays with or however few minutes he’s on. They were looking to give everyone ice time except Alex.” Wherever Semin lands, he will be unlikely to make $6.7 million per year.Veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun plans on fleeing via free agency, leaving playoff hero Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvrith in the nets. Vokoun’s season was cut short by a nagging groin muscle injury. “For me, it was never my intention to be here more than a year,” Vokoun told the Post. “For me, it’s more disappointing about how it went and obviously getting hurt and not having the chance to play in playoffs. That’s what I regret more than worrying about what’s going to be next year. I was looking at it as a one-year thing and I’m sure that’s how it’s gonna be.”Offensive defenseman Dennis Wideman is also hitting the free agent market. He struggled in the playoffs – scoring three points (all assists) with a minus-7 rating – but he stands out in a thin market for puck-moving defensemen. He made $15.75 million on his four-year deal and he could do at least as well after scoring 46 regular season points. He would love to return to Washington, but is there budget space for him.Top forward prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, 20, opted not to come to the NHL. He will sign with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL for two years instead. He doesn’t want to come to North America until after he plays for Russia in the 2014 Winter Olympics.Veteran winger Mike Knuble, 39, wants to keep playing, but his reduced role in Washington may preclude a return. He filled a fourth-line role much of the year, then fell out of the lineup altogether and before moving up when injuries hit during the playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see if any teams offer him guaranteed money for next season.Jeff Halpern is ready move along, too, after falling out of favor with Hunter. “It obviously wasn’t the finish of a season that I personally would have liked,” Halpern told the Post. “The team was doing well, but as far as for my own personal career and future, you hope that there’s a lot of other options out there.”
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bobby Hurley dismisses Louisville rumors

Former RB Larry Johnson says he can't remember two of his NFL seasons

Cardinals talking to Blue Jays about former MVP Josh Donaldson

Report: Red Sox among teams expected to meet with J.D. Martinez at Winter Meetings

McCown may be considering retirement after broken hand

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson 'seriously considering' running for president

Miami player thinks Dolphins found ‘blueprint’ to stop Pats

O's shopping Machado, who wants to move to SS?

Report: Rodgers pushing to play; collarbone not fully healed

NFL determined Bennett dove for ball, not Jags player’s knees

Kenny Britt reportedly finalizing deal with Patriots

NFL MVP Watch: Antonio Brown enters suddenly wide-open race

The 'To the Victor, go the spoils' quiz

Matt Barnes and the looming end of the NBA's enforcers

25 players to watch in the pre-Christmas bowls

The naughty and nice athletes list for 2017

NFL free agent signings who have paid off the most in 2017

Six NBA coaches who could be on the hot seat

The best individual performance from every bowl all time

The 'Josh Gordon is back and the NFL will have to deal with it!' quiz

Top 10 Player of the Year candidates

Sports & Politics Intersect: When Olympic gold corrupts

The 'And the winner is...' quiz

Capitals News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

NFL MVP Watch: Antonio Brown enters suddenly wide-open race

The 'To the Victor, go the spoils' quiz

25 players to watch in the pre-Christmas bowls

The 'Josh Gordon is back and the NFL will have to deal with it!' quiz

The best individual performance from every bowl all time

NFL Week 14 injury report

Sports & Politics Intersect: When Olympic gold corrupts

The best games of 2017

The naughty and nice athletes list for 2017

The 'And the winner is...' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker