The agent for unsigned forwards Peter Bondra and Michal Pivonka yesterday made a new offer to the Washington Capitals, saying the two players could be back on the ice for a total cost of "about $3 million."
"Our offer would pay Peter less than Joe Juneau, but give him the capability of earning more," said Rich Winter, who represents both Bondra and Pivonka. "We've also back-ended it so that the lion's share of the burden will come after the team has moved into their new building."
Capitals general manager David Poile said he will respond to the offer today.
"I'm always hopeful that common sense will find a fair middle ground," Poile said. "I've been in this business a long time and I think I know what the market is and what's fair. I'm not going to worry about it. It will happen or it won't."
The two sides are known to be far apart. Poile reportedly has offered $900,000 a year for Bondra, the NHL's leading goal scorer last season, and $700,000 for Pivonka, the Caps' third-leading scorer and one of their most versatile performers.
Winter had been asking that Bondra be paid on a par with Washington's best-paid players -- Juneau, $2 million, and defenseman Mark Tinordi, $2.2 million.
"The team salary structure is the problem," said Winter. "What was offered to Michal is less than half what Joe Juneau makes, and Michal logs more ice time and is the more complete player, and it was less than 35 percent of what Brendan Witt, a rookie, will make. That's pretty hard for him to take.
"And Peter was offered just over 55 percent of Juneau's salary and less than half of Tinordi's. David wants to pay as little as possible and from where he's coming from, he's spot-on. But from where I'm coming from, I am, too."
Poile said last night that he is not pressured to make a deal by the Capitals' preseason performance -- a 1-4 record. But the absence and uncertain status of Bondra and Pivonka have helped to make this Washington training camp one of the most unsettled in years.
Other factors include injuries to four veteran forwards and a whopping 174 penalty minutes that have limited the coaching staff's ability to get a good look at young players,
Only the Juneau-Keith Jones-Steve Konowalchuk line is set. But that line has yet to play together because Konowalchuk (separated shoulder) is injured, as are Craig Berube (broken jaw), Mike Eagles (bruised kidney) and Kevin Kaminski (groin).
Konowalchuk skated yesterday and could play in Washington's one home exhibition game of the season Saturday against Philadelphia.
Eagles is also on the mend. He was to travel with the team today and could play tonight in Albany against Buffalo. Defenseman Jim Johnson (knee) is also expected to play tonight for the first time this season.
"Frankly, the injuries have left us short of NHL talent," said Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld.