The Capitals will have to spend more to get past the $34.3 million salary-cap floor by the start of the season. Interesting veteran forwards such as Anson Carter, Mike Johnson, Ville Nieminen, Jeff O'Neill, Jan Bulis or Jason Allison could all give depth to the Caps' top-12 forward group.
The best option would be Mike Johnson, who's a good 2-way player who can score and play on a 3rd line. Johnson played on Montreal's 1st penalty kill unit with Radek Bonk for most of last year. He managed to get 31 pts with a +6 ratio. Johnson, a right winger, had scored 54 points with Phoenix the previous year, so a 40-point season would be possible in Washington. A right-winger, Johnson could round up Washington's third line with Boyd Gordon and Matt Pettinger. He earned $1.9 M last year, so he should ask around $1.5 M-$2.0 M a year.
Anson Carter, who also plays right wing, scored only 11 goals last year with 28 pts in during a difficult year with Columbus and Carolina. But Carter can score goals, like he did in 2005 with the Canucks, scoring 33 goals and 55 pts, playing on a line with the Sedins. He earned $2.5 M last year, so he should also ask around $1.5 M-$2.0 M a year.
Jan Bulis, who played for the Capitals from 1997 to 2000, recorded 23 points for the Canucks last year while seeing limited ice time. He recorded 40 points twice, which is his career best. Bulis, who can play center and left wing, is a smooth skater and responsible defensively. He earned $1.3 M last year, so he should ask around $1.0 M-$1.5 M a year.
Jeff O'Neill, who can play center and right wing, had a good season last year with the Leafs, recording 20 goals and 42 pts despite an up and down season. O'Neill showed inconsistency throughout his career which often drove his coaches mad. His great shot and face-offs skills are his bets assets. He earned $1.5 M last year, so he should ask around $1.5 M-$1.8 M a year.
Ville Nieminen is a very different style of player. The Finnish is more of a bruiser and grinder than a talented player. He played only 44 games last year with St-Louis and San Jose due to a few injuries. He's sound defensively and very patient with the puck. The left winger earned $700,000 last year, so he should ask around $500,000-$750,000 a year. He's more of a bargain than the above players.
Finally, Jason Allison could also be a good option at forward despite a one-year hiatus away from the NHL last year. Allison, a right-handed center, recorded 66 points in 2005-06 with Toronto. A slow skater with a great hockey sense, Allison has almost been a 1 point per game player during his career. Allison was a first round choice of the Capitals back in 1993.
Who would be your choice?