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Capitals look into Cristobal, can't like what they're seeing

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If Alexander Ovechkin was the Washington Capitals' most valuable player last season, Cristobal Huet was the most vital player: A guy that gave them everything they needed out of the goaltending spot during the playoff push, posting a GAA of under 3.00 in 10 of the last 13 games of the regular season.

That the Capitals have yet to re-sign Huet shouldn't come as a shock: He's one of the only goalies worth a damn on the unrestricted free agent market right now, and should test his market value starting tomorrow. But Corey Masisak of The Washington Times spoke with Huet's representation Stephen Bartlett this morning, and this quote hit me over the head like hammer:

This is clearly the most important contract of his career. Now, maybe he is the next Dominik Hasek and he will sign five more deals, but history would suggest this is a very important one for him.

To say that Huet has the Capitals by the escargot right now would be an understatement. There's a chance some team like the Colorado Avalanche or the Los Angeles Kings comes calling with a large, multi-year contract that the Capitals will have to match or trump. And Huet knows the Capitals' depth chart as well as the Capitals do: Trying to build on last year's momentum without Huet and Olaf Kolzig and with Brent Johnson at the starting keeper would just deepen the depression that Joffrey Lupal started in overtime of Game 7.

This will not be a "hometown discount."

Huet's agent was very complementary to the Capitals with Masisak, so one can assume they'll have a great shot at retaining him. And they have the money: Like Caps Chick on A View from the Cheap Seats said, just take Kolzig's 2007-08 salary spot and reinvest it in Huet if you need to.

Just get it done, if you're the Capitals. Unless you want to go into next season with Ray Emery or Andrew Raycroft or Jose Theodore as your backstop. Although Ty Conklin ... nah. There's enough ConkBlock'ing going on in D.C. bars as it is.

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