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Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals: With the Deadline Approaching, What Will George McPhee Do? (Part 1)

Washington CapitalsAfter a generally poor season so far, with the trade deadline approaching on February 28th Caps fans look to GM George McPhee. In the summer, the organisation changed the style of play, rather than the roster; but still the team is not playing to its full potential. So the expectation is that there will be changes in Washington. It is a pretty much universally-agreed fact amongst Caps fans that a new 2nd line center is a must before the deadline passes. Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault have battled for the position throughout the season, more so after the departure of Fleischmann, and though Johansson, who has filled the spot on a regular basis recently, has had a fantastic rookie season, he has not been consistently good as a center needs to be on the second line of this team, alongside the likes of Laich, Knuble and Semin through the season. Furthermore, with the assumption that the Caps will make the playoffs, the organisation may want a player with a bit more playoff experience; perhaps one who knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup (Mike Knuble is currently the only player on the roster who has gone all the way in his career so far).

So here’s a look at McPhee’s options down the middle:

Jason Arnott seems the most plausible, and probably the most popular option. The Capitals have space for his $4.5million cap hit, and the Devils will likely be willing to trade him due to their poor season, and the Caps will be open to trading away picks or prospects. Arnott has bags of experience, a Stanley Cup ring, and though he has a No-Trade Clause, he is nearing the end of his career and is looking to mount another run at the Cup. Arnott would be a good rental and a good leader, but the downside is his lack of production, as he may struggle to keep up with the potentially explosive offense of the Capitals.

Stephen Weiss, of the struggling Florida Panthers, is certainly another good option. The Panthers are looking to rebuild and would value the picks or prospects the Caps would give them. Weiss doesn’t have the experience of Arnott, but may be better suited to Washington, as he is younger and more productive; and still has a fair amount of speed and agility about him.

RJ Umberger and Antoine Vermette are also possibilities, though both depend on how the Blue Jackets do in the next couple of weeks. Things are very tight in the West, so the Blue Jackets could easily fall out of the playoff running, or consolidate a top-eight position, over the next fortnight. If it’s the latter, they will want to keep their more talented players, but if they fall out of contention, they might be willing to give up one of their better players. Umberger would be the harder asset to pry away from Columbus, but has some good playoff experience and is currently on course for a 60-point season. Vermette’s production is slightly less than that of his teammate, but his price wouldn’t be as high. Both are viable options that would both fit well into the Caps’ lineup – though Vermette may be the slightly better option, with a lower asking price and a quicker style of game more suited to the Capitals.

Outside possibilities are the likes of Alex Steen and Tim Connolly. Connolly, though inconsistent, is a quality center who has the right mix of offensive ability and defensive awareness to fit into the new Washington system, but with the Sabres definitely in the mix for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, they are unlikely to part with as valuable a roster-member as Connolly. Steen, on the other hand, may be easier to acquire, with the Blues currently on the edge of the playoff hunt in the west, and he has the right style for the Caps, and has been a consistent producer for St.Louis of late. However, like a few other Capitals second-line centers of the recent past, he has been playing on the wing this season, and may not be ideal for moving to the middle at a vital time for the team. Brad Richards, inevitably, has been mentioned, but is an unlikely possibility, as not only would the price be very high, but with the Stars making a very good run at a good playoff position, Dallas may be reluctant to trade their star player and will be less interested in what the Caps are willing to offer.

I will have more on the other trade possibilities for the Capitals soon.

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2 comments for “Washington Capitals: With the Deadline Approaching, What Will George McPhee Do? (Part 1)”

  1. Okay so now you’re suffering from the same complex as I do. Your team is 5th in your conference, looking good for a playoff spot and have one of the two top stars in the NHL - yet you’re making statements like ‘After a generally poor season so far, with the trade deadline approaching on February 28th Caps fans look to GM George McPhee’. You’re one year behind me, you’re experiencing the post “We won the President’s Trophy then got bounced by the 8th seed” season. I think your team will be fine, and if history is any indication we went to the conference finals the ‘year after’.

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | February 17, 2011, 10:33 pm
  2. You are absolutely right. My concern is more because the Caps have definitely not played as well as they could, but yes you’re right we are still fifth in the conference, which i have to keep reminding myself. still i thin mcphee will try to make a move or two to improve certain areas of the roster. i’m not actually as worried as many caps fans seem to be as i thought this kind of drop down the standings was inevitable from the start of the season, but we should see the benefits come playoff time…hopefully!

    Posted by colonelbagpussNo Gravatar | February 18, 2011, 12:59 am

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