Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Taking a Stance

Much of Caps Nation has been clamoring all off season for moves to shore up some perceived holes in the current (on paper) line-up. At the top of that list are the need for an experienced defenseman and a second-line center.

Unlike some, I'm comfortable with the defensive corps as it stands. The influx of youth this coming season will no doubt cause some growing pains, but I have hope that the doubters will be silenced by solid play by #s 27 and 74.

Addressing the 'hole' and 2C, and GM George McPhee's stance that he's finished shopping, lets look at what's left on the shelf for a minute. I count 17 unrestricted free agent 'centers' on the market (minimum 100 NHL games). Of that 17, 5 are under 30 years of age, 7 are age 30-34 and 5 are 35+. The average career games played for the group:
  • <30: 371
  • 30-34: 689
  • 35+: 848
It's a list long on experience but short on high-level, high skill players. The two most productive players on the list both skated in DC last season (Morrison, Belanger), both of whom fall into the 30-34 years old category. The group as a whole has an average salary of $1.2M last season, making them very affordable. But second line centers for the Washington Capitals? Not really.

You could maybe make a case for Kyle Wellwood and Mike Comrie (young, affordable, shown flashes of talent in the past), but they have proven to be chronic underachievers who make headlines more for weight issues and celebrity girlfriends than for playing hockey.

But looking at the options McPhee has in-house, it's easy to see why he's not keen on putting anyone in the shopping cart yet.
  • Tomas Fleischmann - With a full season at C, he could become more comfortable in the middle.
  • Brooks Laich - He has experience in the middle and could step in with success. Plus, he's not afraid to play smart defensively as well.
  • Marcus Johansson - Tons of upside. While he was sometimes unimpressive at Development Camp, he also wasn't skating with Alex Semin and Brooks Laich, who will certainly make him look better.
  • Matheu Perreault - In his limited time in DC, he won over scores of fans with his skill and hard work. He's fast enough and savvy enough to anchor the position, even though some question his size.
For some reason, I think one of the in-house options will prove to be the overwhelmingly smart pick. For one, you wouldn't have to give up a roster spot for a full season when one of the youngsters could be ready mid-year. Secondly, you already have all of these options at your disposal at a moment's notice.

We'll see how things shake out at Camp this fall!

1 comment:

  1. I'm all about Perreault and I could really see him fitting into that spot. If Flash could learn how to win a faceoff, I would be okay with him filling the hole.