The Washington Capitals have signed one of their key players to a long-term commitment.
Tom Wilson has been signed to a seven-year extension worth $45.5 million. The contract will begin ahead of the 2024-25 season and run through 2030-31, carrying a $6.5 million cap hit. Wilson will carry a 15-team no-trade list for the first four years of the deal, and a 10-team no-trade list for the last three years.
He was eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of this coming season, but now he is in line to be one of the Capitals’ longest-tenured players, with 10 seasons with the club under his belt, and will continue to be a big part of the roster for many years to come.
Wilson Coming Off a Tough Season
Last season for Wilson was frustrating, missing the first half because of a torn ACL, having been limited to just 33 games, and the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14.
Still, he managed 13 goals and nine assists for 22 points, and continued to make a difference with his physicality, which he has been known for throughout his career, having laid 97 hits.
His absence was one main reason why the Capitals struggled this past season. He is a big-time difference-maker on the team, not only contributing on the offensive side of things but also making the team harder to play against with his physical edge and his toughness. In a short season for him, he came up strong, and he looks to build on the campaign for 2023-24 and beyond.
Wilson Secures Long-Term Future in Nation’s Capital
It is without question that the Capitals know that Wilson is a big part of their team. He did appear in some trade speculation, but the Caps chose to keep him, which they needed to.
There are not a lot of players like Wilson, and his offensive skill combined with his toughness make him a power forward any team would desire. Interestingly, he finished with under 100 penalty minutes for four straight seasons after crossing that mark in the first six years to begin his career.
He became the player that he is known for today after lifting the Stanley Cup, having secured his spot on the top six, often playing on the top line opposite Alex Ovechkin’s wing. The Caps see him as a long-term fixture there, and will remain key to the power play, as his net-front presence has improved throughout his career.
Washington also sees him as a leader for the team. As mentioned before, he has already played 10 seasons with the only NHL team he has known. There is a realistic possibility that he could get some consideration as the team’s captain when Alex Ovechkin retires. At the minimum, he could be an alternate captain on the long haul.
Concerns With Cap Hit and Term
That being said, a power forward’s game ages as the body endures a lot of wear and tear. Wilson is 29, and his new deal starts next season, meaning he will be 37 when the contract expires. His style of play does not translate to longevity, and expecting him to perform up to his cap hit by the end of his contract may not be logical.
The seven-year deal at a $6.5 million cap hit could be considered long and steep, but Wilson would have likely sought for that term and cap hit if he were to head into the free agent market next summer. Though it’s not out of the question that his cap hit gets offloaded to the LTIR before the contract expires. And because he has a lower salary with higher signing bonuses in the final years of the deal, this makes the contract harder to buy out if the Capitals were to go there.
The signing leaves Washington with $15.65 million in projected cap space for 2024-25, barring a larger increase in the cap ceiling. They will have eight roster spots to fill, but this puts them in a tough position financially for a team that is approaching Ovechkin’s final years in the league.
But given Wilson’s importance to the team, they needed to find a way to keep him. It is not easy to replace him, but now they don’t need to worry about it.
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