Washington Capitals: With the Deadline Approaching, What Will George McPhee Do? (Part 2)
As I said in my previous post, many expect a few moves from Caps GM George McPhee; and second line center is the most likely spot for McPhee to strengthen. But where else could McPhee look to bring players in?
Since the departure from Washington of Olaf Kolzig, the Capitals have struggled to find a definitive starting goalie. And this year, the two 22 year-olds Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth have shared time in net. There has been much speculation since the offseason that an experienced goalie should be brought to Washington. The organisation, though, have insisted they are happy to go with the two youngsters. And, though there is still speculation that the Caps have interest in the likes of Giguere and, more prominently, Vokoun, McPhee has repeated the message that they will not move for a goaltender. And I believe him right now. Last night saw Michal Neuvirth record his second straight shutout against the Penguins in a fantastic, confident performance. Both he and Varlamov have shown more than enough to prove they are able to save the team when necessary and can backstop many victories in Washington. So goalie, I suspect, will not be an area of change this deadline.
On defense, there are rumours the Capitals are in on the likes of Phillips or McCabe, however, after the midseason trade of Fleischmann for Hannan, McPhee seemed to complete his defense. Though injuries have plagued the Caps’ blue line, the defense has been stronger than it has been in recent years; helped by the more defensively responsible system. There still may be a move on defense – Phillips or McCabe seem ideal candidates. They both play on teams that are likely to be looking to sell, and both have plenty of experience and leadership, and would fit well into this Caps team. However with the number of d-men already in Washington, bringing another in without giving one up is unlikely; and the only d-men of real value would probably be Green, Schultz, Carlson and Alzner; none of whom the Capitals are likely to move anytime soon.
Though second line center is the most pressing issue on offense, there are other areas where the Caps may try to improve. It has been the offense that has stuttered this season, and did so in the playoffs last season. Especially the power play. The Caps have more than enough third and fourth line quality, but there may be something missing among the top six forwards. Another top quality winger may be desired in Washington to add some consistent firepower down the stretch and into the postseason. There are a few options out there, though the flurry of recent trades has diminished them slightly:
Ales Hemsky, though injury-prone in recent years, has been a quality scorer in Edmonton, but with the Oilers rebuilding, the prospects and picks the Caps have on offer may be of enough appeal to them to move Hemsky, whose speed and agility would be fitted to the style in Washington. It may require another move to free up some cap space, but it is a viable option.
Similarly Dustin Penner is a distinct possibility. Penner is a different kind of player to Hemsky, but would be a good replacement for either Knuble or Laich (not that either is failing, just the there could be improvement), who would move down the lineup to the third line.
David Booth has managed to maintain a consistent level of scoring for a struggling Florida Panthers team, who would greatly value what Washington could offer. Booth is one of the more skilful options, but doesn’t have the experience, especially in the playoffs, of other options.
Brad Boyes is one of a few Blues wingers who may be drawing the attention of George McPhee. With the recent flurry of activity in St.Louis, any player there is quite possibly available, and Boyes has the right mix of experience and quality, and though he has faded recently in St.Louis, he has shown in the past to be a player of great quality.
I will be back with the final part, on who or what the Caps might give up, soon.