…with all that cap room?
With the loan of Michael Nylander to Grand Rapids of the NHL, the Capitals gained financial flexibility which should allow them to acquire some help in areas they deem necessary. As of this writing, the Caps 24 wins lead the League making the average fan ask: How can they possibly get better?
Corey Masisak of The Washington Times lists five speculative picks that would bolster this team as they prepare for a lengthy playoff campaign. As the team stands there is little need for improvement but one could make a case for another top defender.
As we know from our history watching the playoffs, depth is key. The team’s current construction has featured numerous players shifting up and down the teams forward lines as coach Bruce Boudreau dealt with injuries and juggling in order to find the proper mix. Still Masisak believes the most glaring need is this top defenseman. His solution: Scott Niedermayer.
Niedermayer currently captains the Anaheim Ducks and has lead them, as well as his former team the New Jersey Devils, to the Stanley Cup. In addition, this may be the last year in the NHL for the 36-year-old. Although he only has three goals on the season, he would become a powerful weapon on the Washington powerplay, something dreams are made of. He along with Mike Green would give them two elite puck-moving defensemen which would be incredibly dangerous for this already powerful offense.
Eric Stephens of The OC Register’s Ducks Blog writes GM Bob Murray is in no rush to deal. In fact, if Murray deems the Ducks still in contention he will not move a defenseman, but move to solidify his current core. Gutting the blue line of its most solid defender as well as leader certainly would not bolster the teams chances. Combine that with a hefty 6.750 million cap hit and the chances of seeing Niedermayer in a Capitals uniform certainly appears slim.
The next item on Masisak’s list would be Keith Tkachuk a staple of the Blues organization. As of this writing the Blues forced the fewest goals leaguewide and are actively seeking help. Inconsistent efforts from David Perron, Patrik Berglund, David Backes and T.J.Oshie leaves this team in desperate need for a scorer. Unless the Capitals can offer the Blues a player who puts the puck in the net, the Blues would be reluctant to part with Tkachuk. However, if the team falls out of the race completely I can see the veteran either parting for one last playoffs or retiring quickly after the season. So with this one it is more of a wait and see.
Possibly the most intriguing option discussed would be defenseman Dan Hamhuis. As we recently mentioned, the Predators are winning so sellers they are not. An unrestricted free agent after this season, Hamhuis may test the free agency waters which could be enough to scare David Poile. The smart move would be to trade Hamhuis for a young top six forward.
Such a move fits this particular general managers modus operandi, as Poille constantly looks to get better while getting younger. With Ryan Suter and Shea Weber already signed and callups Cody Franson and Alexander Sulzer able to take regular NHL shifts, Hamhuis is expendable and could be moved. However, would the Capitals have the capitol to land Hamhuis or would they have to part with someone like Tomas Fleischmann.
As for the last two (three technically) players listed, I see slim to little chance of the Capitals acquiring Joe Corvo, Jordan Leopold or Ilya Kovalchuk. As mentioned crazier things have happened but none of these teams have incentive to trade within their division. Personally I see the Caps making a move for another depth forward and a top four defenseman. Who exactly they will make a move for is uncertain but we should see clear buyers and sellers emerge shortly after the New Year. Definitely will be a hot topic from now up until the trade deadline as arguably the most powerful team in the league boasts some hefty cap room.
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