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Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals: Three Great Moves

Washington CapitalsYes I am one happy Caps fan right now. With other teams making lots of moves prior to the trade deadline, I was worrying George McPhee may have left it too late to improve his team. But he has made three excellent moves in the past three days, to give the Capitals a great roster heading into the stretch.

First, McPhee claimed left winger Marco Sturm off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings. Sturm, a 32-year-old veteran who has in recent years been plagued by injuries, brings experience, depth, and some much-needed scoring ability. Without giving up anything, and only taking a cap hit of around $0.9million, the Caps added a player who has proven he can score, provides quality in a shallow position on the team, and has playoff experience and leadership – qualities McPhee was looking for.

But heading into trade deadline day, the Caps still had a desperate need for a second line center, and perhaps more depth, with injuries taking their toll. And Washington made a very good acquisition with only the second trade of the day, bringing in defenseman Dennis Wideman from the Florida Panthers in exchange for prospect Jake Hauswirth and a 3rd round pick. Again Washington isn’t losing anything from the roster, or giving up too much anyway (Hauswirth is a relative unknown – he’s a big left winger playing in the ECHL – and with a great stock of youth already in the system the 3rd is not too much of a loss). The team gets a good puck-moving d-man who is effective on the power play, suits the Caps new system, though will also help offensively; but most importantly, with Tom Poti seemingly out for a while and Mike Green out for certainly the next few weeks with a head injury – and thus the team not wanting to rush him back – Wideman provides quality depth. The one downside is Wideman’s $3.9million cap hit.

And then, finally…the big one. Going into the day everyone was saying Washington needed a second line centerman more than anything. A few names were banded about, but as the deadline loomed there was no word. Then, about five minutes after the deadline passed, word started to come through that the Caps may have acquired Jason Arnott. News filtered through, and I for one started getting very excited. It looked very much similar to the Sergei Fedorov acquisition of a few years back that made a big difference to the team then. In the end, it was David Steckel and a 2nd round pick for Arnott. Steckel is a good, solid two-way center who will be missed, but giving up a fourth-liner and a little-needed draft pick for Jason Arnott is a great deal. He has 17 years of NHL experience, he has been an NHL captain and, perhaps most importantly, has won a Stanley Cup. This guy knows what it takes. He may be past his best in terms of ability, he has 24 points this season, but he can be a consistent provider for Alex Semin and will bring bags of leadership and playoff experience. He is good enough to fill the void on the second line, but vitally has the qualities this young team needs going forward.

Overall, Arnott and Sturm are quality rentals who can chip in offensively and will bring experience and leadership. The risk of them upsetting any chemistry in the lineup is minimal, too, as they are both looking at playing on the second line with Alex Semin, who in the past couple of years has had a wide variety of linemates and has proven he can maintain production with a change of linemates. Wideman, though, has another year on his contract, and brings quality and depth on the blue-line; and can hopefully help spark the Caps’ ailing power play. We will see how well the new additions fit in during tonight’s Islanders game, but they are all looking like brilliant trades right now.

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