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The Nine Number: Not-So-Free Agency

A look at some tough looming roster decisions

NHL: Washington Capitals at Minnesota Wild Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

9 - The number of unrestricted and restricted free agents that the Caps have as this season for the ages as defending Stanley Cup champions comes to a close (source: Of this group, four are unrestricted: Carl Hagelin, Brett Connolly, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Brooks Orpik. Among the restricted are Andre Burakovsky, Dmitrij Jaskin, Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, and Christian Djoos. All but Vrana are arbitration-eligible.

It is never easy to contemplate the departure of players that have become so closely followed, some since they were draft picks, others who came to Washington by choice as free agents or by other means. But turnover is a part of professional sports, and it is an especially common phenomenon in the NHL. Consider that of the team that took the ice for the Caps last night, barely half of the 20 to have dressed (11) did so for the last time the Caps lost a series in seven games – two seasons ago (T.J. Oshie, who dressed in that 2017 game against Pittsburgh, was injured and did not dress last night).