Tuesday, July 13, 2010

'Hawks Match Hjalmarsson's Offer

The Sharks, being the team that lost in the WCF to eventual Cup winner Chicago, are a spiteful team. They found a good young defenseman in Niklas Hjalmarsson, a potential "replacement" to Rob Blake, and sent him an offer for a huge pay raise. All the while hoping that either the 'Hawks let him go, or are pressed to get rid of yet another Stanley Cup winning piece of their puzzle.

Then the Blackhawks decided to match the offer, keeping young Niklas on the team for four more years at a cap hit of $3.5 million. Leaving them with $113,410 left, and 15 players on the roster. Antti Niemi, obviously, is the biggest name left unsigned, which means more money will have to be moved. Thankfully for Chicago's sake, Niemi filed for arbitration, so no one else will be shooting him an offer, further complicating the situation in the Windy City.

So who's expendable? The 'Hawks made it clear they do not want to move their young core, with the exceptions of Byfuglien, Versteeg, and Ladd. But they only drafted Buff, so I guess that made the other two highly expendable.

Obviously, Huet is expendable. But what about Patrick Sharp?

The Capitals admittedly have a hole at the second line center position, but seem content to stand pat. Per Capgeek, the Capitals have 19 players signed with $8.55 million in cap space. Of the expected NHL roster, only Tomas Fleischmann is unsigned. And Marcus Johansson's cap hit is not factored in, but that is less than a million. So the Caps have the cap space, and the need, but no desire?

McPhee would rather try one of the young guys at the position. The team really loves undersized Mathieu Perreault, who, while I am not a fan of his style or what he brings, does have some promise. But he is undersized, not a strong skater - although he is quick - and they need size down the middle. Everyone knows the Capitals desperately need someone willing to go in the corners and retrieve the puck, and play in front of the goal. Perreault does not answer this need.

And since the Caps are insistent on not getting that type of player anyway, why not find a second line center who plays their game, and will be a significant improvement over anyone else in the organization? Sharp is now a Cup winner, and has scored 20 or more goals in each of the last four seasons, including a 36 goal outburst in 07-08. He also scored a point per game in the playoffs, including goals in each of the last three games of the Cup Final.

He has the speed the Capitals covet, has versatility (he is listed at Left Wing, but is known to play Center), and he wins 51% of his faceoffs. He will be 29 this year, and will be unrestricted after the 11-12 season, which is exactly what the Caps need - a short term deal, something that seemed impossible in the free agent market.

So what do you say? We know he looks good in red...

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