Date of Last Contract:August 16, 2000
Signed Through: 2002-2003 Season
Caps Agree With Klee, Win Case Against Witt
Jason La Canfora
The Washington Post
Wednesday, August 16, 2000 ; D02
The Washington Capitals emerged from the NHL's arbitration period in fine form yesterday, agreeing to terms on a three-year deal with defenseman Ken Klee and learning that they had won their arbitration case with defenseman Brendan Witt.
Witt's case was heard in Toronto last week and yesterday he was awarded $1 million for the 2000-2001 season (the same salary he earned last season) and $1.075 for the 2001-2002 season. Witt's representative, Mark Hall, had been seeking about $2 million a season.
"We're very disappointed with the reward," Hall said. "I know in my heart it doesn't reflect the true value of the player."
Defensive defensemen such as Witt lack the statistics that traditionally get large arbitration awards. The Capitals had to tender Witt, the 11th overall pick in the 1993 draft, a qualifying offer of $1.1 million to retain his restricted free agent rights and had few contract discussions with Hall beyond that. Witt said he filed for arbitration to eliminate any! chance of a contract stalemate.
"The reasons I filed is because I am committed to the Capitals organization," Witt said.
Klee's arbitration case was scheduled for today but will not happen with a new contract in place. He is expected to sign the deal today, which is worth $1.3 million this season, $1.4 million next season and $1.55 million in 2002-2003. Klee, 29, matched his career highs with seven goals and 20 points last season and played the most consistent defense of his six-year NHL career. It is likely Klee would have netted a slightly lower salary in arbitration, but the award would have been for one season only. Klee would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency after the 2001-2002 season, but that is bumped back one season with the new deal.
McPhee said the team has had no discussions recently with its three remaining unsigned restricted free agents--defenseman Sergei Gonchar, winger Chris Simon and center Jan Bulis--and talks will not resume until next week.