Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Another domino falls

Another ideal, though probably unrealistic, target has fallen: Erik Gudbranson has officially re-signed with the Vancouver Canucks for three years, $12 million.  Gudbranson was probably never on the Capitals radar, but he should have been, since he could shore up the defense at a reasonable cap hit.  I guess it is a moot point now, though. 

On to the next...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Capitals acquire defensive depth

The first domino has fallen in the Capitals 2018 playoff preparations.  This morning, shortly following their road match in Chicago, the team traded a third round draft pick to the Blackhawks for Michal Kempny. 

While on paper this may not look like much, bringing in someone to (hopefully) replace Taylor Chorney as the 7th man is an apparent improvement.  With no Nate Schultz to fill in, it was imperative to acquire someone else capable of stepping in in case of injury and to push the current squad for playing time.  Chorney is a serviceable replacement, but has been buried in Corsi and Fenwick throughout his career, despite favorable zone starts and playing for some seriously dominant Capitals teams. 

RMNB, like usual, has a great write-up including a strong analysis of Kempny's numbers. 

The pick going the other way is the higher of two third-round picks the Capitals have this year.  With both Washington and Toronto expected to make the playoffs, this should fall in the 77-93 range.  According to an older analysis by TSN's Scott Cullen, whoever the 'Hawks has around a 26% chance of becoming an NHL regular.  This makes the price reasonable for a pending UFA with a cap hit that still provides flexibility. 

We grade this trade: B+

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Interesting rumors abound

Two weeks remain before the trade deadline, and talks are heating up.  With the Capitals exceeding expectations, leading the Metropolitan Conference despite some awful underlying numbers (dead last in shots per game - yowch!), there is certainly pressure to up the ante and go all in for one last run.  One last run, of course, because failing to make the Conference Finals should cost both Brian MacLellan and Barry Trotz their jobs.  However, any moves the team makes need to be well positioned for a future of competitiveness.  That means not trading future All-Stars for two goals in 66 combined games.

Anyone the Capitals acquires should be reasonably priced, should be early- to mid- career, and ideally will have remaining term or is interested in resigning.

With that in mind, here are some options:

RW - Michael Grabner:  It is never easy to make trades in division, especially when the seller is one point out of a playoff spot, but the Rangers are looking to move assets.  A reasonably priced option, Grabner adds an element of speed the Capitals sorely missed against the Penguins in the last couple of playoff seasons.  And considering how shot-starved the Capitals are, adding a pure shooter who is scoring nearly two goals per 60 is probably a good thing.  Granted, Grabner is scoring on a career best 18.5% of his shots- he was averaging 12.5% prior to this campaign- but even matching his career average would land him second on the team in goals.  For a third liner, this is good.  And it would allow the Capitals to finally get rid of Alex Chiasson or Devante Smith-Pelly, two low achieving journeymen.

RW - Andrew Shaw: It never hurts to add grit and a winning pedigree.  I have often said that the Capitals are too easy to play against, which is surprising given their size.  Shaw is one of the most annoying players in the league, who can beat you with his shot, mouth, or dirty play, which makes one wonder whether he fits in on a team that already has a big target in Tom Wilson.  But he is a two time Cup winner who scored triple OT goal in the Finals, so it may be worth the negatives to add his clutch play.  Shaw has an awful contract though, so any move would necessitate the Canadiens eating some salary, which could raise the asking price above reasonability.

LW - Thomas Vanek: The Capitals need depth scoring.  Vanek would provide just that.  I normally am not a fan of adding 33 year olds who are on the decline, but Vanek has performed well in Vancouver in a no pressure situation.  He could slot in as a middle six forward and add another element to the Capitals attack.  The asking price could be high, though, seeing as Vanek is signed to one of the cheaper deals on TSN's Trade Bait Board.

C - Andreas Athanasiou: Sticking with the theme of adding speed and depth scoring, Athanasiou is an attractive option.  After an ugly holdout last offseason, one has to wonder whether the alphabet is long for Detroit, but until I hear otherwise, this is more of a pipe dream.

D - Mike Green:  Probably the most likely target for the Capitals, the former first round draft pick of the Caps (behind Alex Ovechkin and Jeff Schultz) adds scoring from the backend.  He has not been the driver of play that he was through his first 10 seasons, during which he netted a Corsi well north of 50%, but Green would not be asked to do too much as a third pair RD/2nd PP quarterback.  Green is well liked by the team, had the best years of his career in Washington, and recently bought a house in Kalorama.  All signs point to a trade, and for someone who has a full no trade clause, he can punch his own ticket.  As long as the Wings are pragmatic, and take a reasonable offer, we should see Game Over Green adding scoring depth to the squad before the month is through.

D - Oliver Ekman-Larsson:  Another play driving defenseman, this time from the left side, Ekman-Larsson is probably more of a pipe dream than anything else.  However, all signs point to a trade from Arizona, especially as their chances of winning the Dahlin lottery increase with each additional loss.  Ekman-Larsson would not come cheap, but if Carlson's asking price is too high (which it probably will be), then making a move for a defenseman who will hit free agency at the same time as Brooks Orpik's cap hit is off the books may be ideal.

D - Erik Gudbranson:  I already argued for Gudbranson, and I stand by my word.  He is mean, tough, and surly, and helps address some of the Capitals defensive woes.  His lack of offense and discipline is concerning, as are his lingering injury problems, but he can be a good model for Bowey and can help plug some gaps on the back end.  If he can come at a reasonable price, he is a good option.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cap scratch fever

Andre Burakovsky will be a healthy scratch again.  This is not breaking news anymore.  It is expected.

Is a trade pending?  Who knows?  His $3 million cap hit is ripe to be swapped for defensive help.

We would much rather have the Thunder from Down Under be the 13th forward anyway.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Offsides challenge

Hypothetical situation:

What happens if an attacking team is offsides, but the defending team rushes up the ice and scores?  Can the team that was scored against call for an offsides review on themselves?