Friday, June 2, 2017

Low risk-high reward

The Capitals are in the worst possible position: a disappointing playoff finish, a depleted draft, a thin prospect pool, and plenty of cap trouble.  This whirlpool of unfortunate circumstances promises to bring some degree of change to the roster next year, though exactly how much remains to be seen.

With some major holes opening up on both sides of the puck, the Capitals may be best served looking for value as opposed to trying to retool for a run as they have in the past.  With that in mind, here are some possibilities to fill out the forward lines:

Nail Yakupov: A perennial disappointment chosen higher than he should have been will likely not be tendered by St. Louis, enabling him to enter unrestricted free agency much sooner than expected.  After playing on a $2.5 million/year contract, the possibility exists for Yakupov to run home to Russia, where he is sure to earn more, but presuming he wants another chance in the NHL, a no pressure depth role in Washington is sure to be of interest.

Radim Vrbata: Maybe more of a pipe dream as he enjoys playing in the desert, the Coyotes assistant captain has two thirty goal seasons since turning 30 and played on a very team friendly contract in 2016-17.  Vrbata will start next season at 36, so expectations have to be tempered, but he can still skate and he shoots the puck an awful lot, so another 15-20 goal season is a reasonable expectation.

Brian Boyle: Another pipe dream, Brian Boyle is awfully big, experienced, consistently wins faceoffs and moves the puck in the right direction.  Boyle starts most often in the defensive zone yet generates a positive Corsi.  He may be slow and cumbersome, but he has shown flashes of offensive skill, has great playoff experience, and should come at a relative bargain given his short-term upside.

Brett Connolly: Why not?  The definition of a low-risk, high-reward free agent signing turned in a career best 15 goals on a bargain contract.  Even with a modest raise, Connolly is a great value as he brings size and skill to a fourth line desperately in need of both.

Kris Versteeg: He can never seem to land anywhere long-term, having played for 8 teams in his career, but has 2 Stanley Cups and averages more than half a point per game.  Versteeg has built a reputation as a do-everything player and seems to make everyone around him a little bit better.  Losing Justin Williams will hurt; bringing in Versteeg could make that sting just a little bit less.

Sam Gagner: The Oilers single-game points record holder is a pending UFA again, and after posting a career best 50 point season is sure to find work.  However, Gagner has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career and, while due for a raise over last year's $650,000 contract, should be a reasonable bargain.

Patrick Eaves: Last year's 32 goals were more than he had posted in the prior 5 seasons combined.  While it would be unreasonable to expect that same caliber of production from a 33 year old, he was not a great beneficiary of shooting percentages, as he scored on average pace with the Stars before exploding for 11 goals in 20 games with the Ducks.  A solid depth option, Eaves might have earned himself too big a raise for the Capitals liking, but could easily slot into a third line role next to Eller and Wilson.

Other names: Chris Neil, Michael Haley, Tom Pyatt, Rene Bourque, Dominic Moore, P.A. Parenteau

No comments:

Post a Comment