Juneau nets biggest Caps deal

August 23, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

Washington Capitals center Joe Juneau spent yesterday house hunting. This morning, he will talk about signing the biggest contract in Capitals history.

The deal will cover four years and pay him $8.2 million, so finding a nice house shouldn't be a problem. Reportedly, Juneau will collect $1.8 million the first year, $2 million the second and $2.2 million each in the third year and the option year.

The biggest contracts on the Capitals roster had belonged to team captain and defenseman Kevin Hatcher and left wing Kelly Miller.

Hatcher's last contract was also three-plus-one, and worth about $4 million. Last year, Hatcher played out his option and earned $1.325 million. He is a free agent, still unsigned and, according to NHL rules, must have a contract before the Capitals open training camp Sept. 4 to be allowed to report.

A spokesman in the office of Hatcher's agent Ron Seltzer said the Capitals have yet to make a significant offer, but added that Seltzer and Capitals general manager David Poile probably will begin serious talks this week.

Miller earned $1.8 million last season, including a $1 million signing bonus, and will be paid $850,000 this season, for a two-year deal worth $2.6 million.

Poile would answer no questions on the Juneau deal yesterday.

Juneau's agent, Larry Kelly, reached late yesterday evening, wouldn't talk about the details of the agreement but said he was pleased.

"We're happy not only with the end result but with the way the Capitals handled the negotiations," said Kelly. "There was clearly give on both sides. And I'd say Joe is more excited about the opportunity he has with the Capitals than with the money. He's in a very exciting situation."

Juneau joined the Capitals late last season in a trade that sent All-Star defenseman Al Iafrate to the Boston Bruins.

Washington had been searching for offensive power and projected Juneau as an offensive star. Speculation at the time was that Boston, with large contracts for Ray Bourque, Adam Oates and Cam Neely, made Juneau available because he would demand a high salary.

Juneau, 26, a native of Pont-Rouge, Quebec, played 11 regular-season games with Washington, scoring five goals and eight assists to finish the season with 19 goals and 66 assists in 74 games. His year-ending 85 points were best on the Capitals stat sheet.

He also had four goals and five assists in the playoffs for nine points, tying Miller and Sylvain Cote for the second-most productive efforts in postseason.

Juneau earned $250,000 last year, including a $50,000 signing bonus, and would have earned $225,000 in his option year this season.

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