With the NHL trade deadline looming at 3pm today, many expect the Washington Capitals to be introducing a few new faces by the end of the day. Rock the Red has been following the transactions on our Trade Deadline tab and will continue to update that page as transactions happen.
Like many teams, the Capitals got a head start on re-shaping the roster on Saturday. To recap:
-The Capitals assigned C Mathieu Perreault to Hershey.
So, what’s next for the Caps? Rock the Red takes a look at what General Manager George McPhee might have in store. Read on!
George McPhee has a history of making deadline day moves, and this year is no different. Rock the Red identified two major areas of concern McPhee was likely to address, a top-line winger and a second-line center. McPhee is of course limited because of the small number of teams that are selling.
In Marco Sturm, McPhee has brought in a potential top-line winger, though Sturm could figure in on either of the top 2 lines. Sturm is a speedy, consistent scoring threat coming off a knee injury, and McPhee acquired him without giving up any assets. Sturm also carries a cap hit of $3.5 million, or about half of the Caps’ remaining room under the salary cap.
To make more room on the roster and under the salary cap, McPhee waived seldom used winger D.J. King and his $637,500 cap hit. He also assigned underperforming scoring center Mathieu Perreault to Hershey along with his $716,667 cap hit, though he was not scheduled to play any games this weekend. McPhee could acquire a player with a salary cap hit in the neighborhood of $4.5 to 5 million, ruling out Brad Richards in Dallas unless the Caps dropped major salary elsewhere.
McPhee does not usually trade away major prospects for rental players, either. Ultimately, Perreault is not in George McPhee’s long-term plans and could be traded for another asset tomorrow, much the way Oskar Osala was last year and Theo Ruth was 3 years ago. Don’t expect young players like Dmitri Orlov, Cody Eakin, or Evgeny Kuznetsov to go anywhere, though.
McPhee is not likely to trade for a defenseman tomorrow, they are not often available or affordable, If he thinks Tom Poti won’t be ready for the playoffs, he may try to do something on this front for depth purposes.
McPhee also is not looking for an NHL goaltender, though he may try to acquire a minor league goalie for depth. Dany Sabourin and Braden Holtby are both hurt, and Semyon Varlamov just missed a game with a sore knee. If there is a decent player available, McPhee may make a move here.
There are a few players available McPhee may yet pursue. Tim Connolly and Jason Arnott are viable second-line centers that will be unrestricted free agents this summer and ought to be available for draft picks or lesser prospects. It would appear the Sabres are buying, not selling, though. A player like Stephen Weiss could be a viable second-line center, but with his No-Movement clause, two years remaining on his $3.1 million per year contract, the price will be high. Especially when centers like Eakin and Kuznetsov are in the pipeline, McPhee probably won’t make that move.
If McPhee thinks rookie center Marcus Johansson is adequate on the second line, he may just tinker around the edges for depth. This is where players like Marty Reasoner or Radek Dvorak come in. Reasoner is a third-line center with some offensive ability. He doesn’t take a lot of penalties and he wins a lot of his faceoffs. McPhee traded for Eric Belanger last year, if he can’t get the #2 center he wants, he may trade a draft pick for Reasoner. Radek Dvorak is a speedy veteran winger who has some serious offensive ability that hasn’t been tapped in years. He is an excellent penalty killer and could play on any of the Caps’ four lines. Both players are in their mid-30s, have good playoff experience and could add a veteran presence to the locker room. McPhee could acquire both players and still be under the cap.
It will be an interesting day tomorrow, especially because McPhee has a knack for making moves that nobody sees coming. While McPhee may decide no move is the best move, it will likely be due to price, not need. The Capitals were in a similar position in 2008, in need of a 2nd line center to get them to the playoffs.