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No Qualifying Offer For Novotny

In a move that's a bit surprising to me, the Caps have decided not to extend a qualifying offer to Jiri Novotny, meaning that the Czech pivot will become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday. The decision is surprising in part because it would have been relatively cheap to qualify Novoflop ("only" $495,000), and in part because the former first-rounder is still only 23-years-old (24 in August). Novotny certainly did nothing to impress in his brief stint in D.C., but hopefully letting him go means that the team will be adding some depth at the center position (especially on the top two lines) in the near future. And for those keeping score at home, the Caps end up trading Dainius Zubrus for San Jose's second round pick in 2007 (which they flipped to Philly, I believe) and the Sharks' (likely very late) second round pick in 2008 - not exactly a king's ransom. But kudos to GMGM and the team for not just signing Novotny for the sake of trying to save some face on the Zubrus trade.

Another surprise (to me at least) was that the team didn't qualify goaltender Maxime Daigneault. "Max II" was 23-6 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.64 goals against average in his first season in the AHL. If it was purely a talent-based decision, I can live with it (though as a 23-year-old and a former second-round pick, I'm not sure how that decision can be made at this point). But when Tim Leone (via Tarik) pointed out that Frederic Cassivi was going to be back in Chocolatetown next year and questioned whether there was room in the organization for Daigneault, I asked the following:

Shouldn't the question be whether there's room in the organization for Cassivi? I know they're trying to win games down there, but if the Caps are forced to let go of a goalie with potential upside (there's only one way to find out how much) so that Hershey can keep playing a guy that offers no such long-term benefit to the big club, I'm not sure I see the point of the affiliation.

That question - and the implication that goes along with it - is gnawing at me again today. At the very least, the release of Max II shows the team's confidence in youngsters Simeon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth.

Also not receiving QOs were defenseman Trevor Byrne, and forwards Kris Beech, Jonas Johansson, Louis Robitaille, Matt Stefanishion and Joey Tenute. No huge losses there.

So who was qualified? Blueliners Steve Eminger, John Erskine, Jamie Hunt and Milan Jurcina and forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Jakub Klepis, Brooks Laich, Dave Steckel and Brian Sutherby.

Per the Caps' site:

Players who receive qualifying offers have until July 15 to notify the club as to whether or not they accept the offer. Players with arbitration rights (that list includes Eminger, Erskine, Jurcina, Laich and Sutherby) have until July 5 to notify the club of their desire to exercise those rights.

Players who are tendered qualifying offers can still get offers from other NHL teams, too. Any restricted free agent who is given an offer sheet at $773,442 or below for 2007-08 can sign without his original club receiving any compensation in return. The player’s original club does retain the right to match that offer, however.

...

Negotiations are already ongoing with Washington’s restricted free agents, a process that will play itself out over the next six weeks or so. Players who choose arbitration may never get to arbitration, and just because all nine players were given two-way qualifying offers does not preclude them from signing one-way deals when it’s all said and done.