It's hard not to smile imagining Anton Volchenkov in a Washington Capitals Sweater.

Ever since the Capitals were ousted in the first round, there has been no shortage of reasons why- ranging from “stars” like Semin & Green letting them down to Peter prematurely shaving his beard despite us HAVING A PACT. But I am not bitter. Instead, we look towards the future, which looks bright:

So the focus is now on the rumors surrounding how the Caps will look to prevent a repeat of 2009-10, and it starts with a simple real estate transaction: Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov has put his Ottawa house up for sale.

It makes sense: Anton Volchenkov turned down a 5 year, $20 million contract before the Olympics and the Capitals surely have a stay-at-home defenseman (Russian optional) on their “How Do We Make Sure This NEVER Happens Again” shopping list. But what does it mean for the rest of the D-Men?

Looking at their roster now, the following D-Men are under contract for the 2010-11 season:

  • Mike Green
  • Tom Poti
  • John Erskine
  • Tyler Sloan
  • Karl Alzner
  • John Carlson

Jeff Schultz is a RFA, but I am sure after leading the NHL in +/- we will see him wearing the Weagle again come opening night.

We will probably say goodbye to UFAs Shaone Morrisonn, Milan Jurcina and Joe Corvo – a deadline deal that never quite clicked, however it did leave to so some pretty awesome pirate jokes.

So let’s speculate on the pairings, assuming Volchenkov joins his fellow comrades in a Caps sweater:

  1. Green/Volchenkov
  2. Schultz/Carlson
  3. Alzner/Poti
  4. Erskine/Sloan

Some people think the signing of Volchenkov means the end of Semin in a Caps sweater, but I think Alzer is the one who loses out. Boudreau has said we would see “The Future Is Now” pairing of Carlson & Alzner next season, however, if Alzner is regulated to the third line, which I believe he would be, I think it makes more sense to either:

  1. get him more time in Hershey, or,
  2. trade him to upgrade at another position.

In addition to a “stay at home” defenseman, the Caps need to upgrade their 2nd line Center (and resign Belanger as the 3rd line center, in my opinion) but the UFA crop of centers is awfully bleak this year making me think that Alzer would be shipped to help fill that void.

  • mcawful

    Thank you, RMNB. I will be able to sleep tonight knowing at least one other person in this world believes in Alex “Homeless Guy Jeans” Semin. I’ll lose my shit if he ever cuts his hair, dresses normally, learns English, or leaves this team. NOT ON MY WATCH! No amount of playoff gaffes or Lucky Strikes can ever quash my love for that crazy Russian.

  • DamCaps

    what good is having all these young guys on our D-LIne
    Look at Philly and Montreal, teams with veteran blue liners that stepped it up come play-off time. John Carlson plays like more of a veteran than most guys under 24, but Sloan and Alzner have a lot of improving to do. Semin needs to stay. Ovi would be depressed without his Russian party mate.

  • http://youresovain-dailyvanityplates.blogspot.com/ Katie

    I’ve said it before. We should not get rid of Semin. You don’t get rid of a 40-goal scorer with the raw talent Semin has. Yes, he’s not perfect. But those hands! I would love to see Volchenkov added without losing Semin and I believe GMGM is with me on that. I’d rather see Alzner playing full time with the Caps than Sloan, but I have no idea if Sloan has a two way contract or not.

  • BGGB

    @Katie

    I’d be a lot more impressed with Semin if playoff-style hockey didn’t negate his skills so badly.

    (so far)

  • Darryl

    I say we get Matt Cullen as our 2nd line center re-sign Belanger, Say goodbye to Flash, Bmo, and Shmo. Would like to see the A-train here but not at 5 mil a year..

    Alzner and JC i think will be the number 1 and 2 paring on this team. I would keep Semin and maybe see what offers you could get for Green.

  • Bailey

    If we can get Volchenkov for about $4.5M/year, we can keep the current team intact and the lines would look like this (I made some guesses about a few players we’d keep and their respective raises and who might make the team out of camp):

    Ovechkin/Backstrom/Knuble
    Semin/Laich/Fehr (@$2M/yr)
    Chimera/Belanger/Perreault
    Steckel/Gordon(@$0.9M/yr)/Bradley

    Green/Volchenkov(@$4.5M/yr)
    Shultz(@$1.75M/yr)/Poti
    Alzner/Carlson
    Sloan/Erskine

    Varlamov/Neuvirth

    This 22-man roster JUST fits under this year’s cap and it’s not totally out of the question.

    I don’t think trading Alzner is really necessary to facilitate a workable roster under the cap here. Volchenkov @ $5M/yr is a bit high. The guy is a good D-man, but he hasn’t done enough to earn that $ figure just yet. Is he really at the point where he could demand a contract similar to Greenie’s? The only downside to this roster is 2nd line center, though the 2nd line as a whole looks damned solid to me. Thoughts?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    @Bailey:

    I don’t think it is an issue of fitting Alzner under the cap with signing Volchenkov. I feel it is a development question: is he better served playing limited minutes in NHL or as #1 defensive option in Hershey? Tough to say, but, his trade value could be high enough to get 2nd line center. I do not feel Laich is the answer there. And, Mathieu Perreault is a C, not a winger.

    Plus, I think in light of the Kovalchuk situation keeping Semin before season starts is a HUGE mistake. Again, the #’s prob work where we could keep both Semin and Volchenkov, but the time to trade Semin is before the season – maybe even before the draft. He cannot be signed to the $7-8mil (or more) he will get on the open market. We will see just where his value lies once Kovy is signed.

    Schultz led the NHL in +/- so I think a <$2 Mil salary is wishful thinking.

    Neuvy as backup goalie is also one of those questions of development: is he better served as #1 in Hershey or part time role in NHL? Personally, I think the Caps need a veteran goalie with legitimate playoff experience as backup to Varley.

    -Neil

  • Darryl

    @Neil,

    If the Caps were to entertain a backup Goalie then we could kiss the thought of A-Train here, and I would suspect more than 1 trade.

    We need a 2nd line center and another defensemen. Having Nuvey and Varly makes us cheaper and hey those two guys arent that bad. I would rather have Nuvey here in DC than in Hershey, And we dont know if Varly can stay healthy, Neuvy has shown he can between DC and Hershey.

    A back-up goaltender is at least starting at 2 mil and if you look at the ones that UFA’s.. YIKES… I would only say Dan Ellis out of that group. I do see what your saying, I thought the same thing as well, But I feel with a 2nd line center (Matt Cullen) and a D-man.. I think we’ll be ok.

  • breaklance

    Alzner is too small of a cap hit to bring in Volchenkov. If he turned down 4 mil a year he is looking for more and the caps won’t have more unless they move some money. A lot of their defensemen are RFA/UFAs but Shultz is surely staying and getting a pay increase. Alzner and Carlson together only sum 1.6 mil, they are super cheap and very good. Its possible to acquire A-train straight out but there are other guys the team probably wants to keep and increase pay.

    Personally, I’d resign ShaMo, trade Poti and Erksine for picks or AHL prospects or something, sign Volchenkov and run these lines

    Green/Shultz
    Alzner/Carlson or Carlson/Shamo
    ShaMo/Volchenkov or Alzner/Volchenkov

    though at 5 mil A-train will be getting 22+ minutes a night regardless of who he plays with

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    @breaklance:

    Bringing in Volchenkov and keeping Alzner has NOTHING to do with the cap hit. I understand Alzner’s cap # is negligible. It has to do with development. Alzner needs to play and has value for another missing piece.

    Caps have a ton of replacement DMan (i.e. 3rd/4th liners) to tap into either on the roster or via FA at <$2 mil cap hit. Alzner’s IMMEDIATE production can be replaced. Now, could he blossom into a Norris finalist down the road? Maybe, but for now, in the quest for the Cup during a closing of the “window of opportunity,” the smart move is to trade him for a missing piece after signing A-Train as the shut down dman.

    Besides, ShaMo had the worst Goals Against while on the ice per 60 minutes of all caps defenseman (2.96) with the exception of Alzner (3.21). Then it was Corvo (2.64) followed by Sloan (2.44). Putting Carlson with ShaMo would only impede his development – and make him look WAY worse in the process. I don’t see them pairing A-Train with ShaMo for the 3rd defensive pairing. If A-Train is signed, he is #1 with Green.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    @Darryl:

    You’re prob right, and I would rather A-Train with Varly/Neuvy than the alternatives.

  • Hale

    @mcawful

    I am with you all the way. For me, the Caps would not be the same without Semin. I almost get an anxiety attack thinking about him either being traded or signing elsewhere. I find his play so exciting and entertaining. You never know what might happen with the puck on his stick, for good or bad (mostly good), but chances are good it will be spectacular.

    @ Russian Machine Never Breaks

    I don’t think Kovalchuk’s and Semin’s situations are similar. Their numbers are almost identical this past regular season, but Kovy has several more (3) full NHL seasons under his belt and scored at least 40 goals in all but 2 of those. He APPEARS to be seriously considering the KHL (unless it’s posturing), but my sense is that that is not really what Semin wants to do, based on some things he’s reportedly said. But, who knows? Maybe he’ll want to chase the money for a long as it’s out there. I just hope enough of it is here.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    Plekanec, Koivu and Lombardi are best centermen (excluding Marleau).
    Plekanec – Ok, I know.
    Koivu – Too old.
    But what about Lombardi?
    - Fedor

  • Rachel

    I agree that adding Volchenkov would be GREAT, but we can’t put him and Green on the same line. Green MUST be paired with a smart stay at home defensemen. His shot blocking is something we desperately need, but he can easily be drawn out of position. My pairings…

    Volchenkov, Schultz
    Green, Carlson
    Alzner, Poti
    Juice in reserve.
    Trade Sloan, and send Erskine to Hershey to mentor the little guys.

  • Peter

    Fun strategy talk.

    @Rachel, 74/52 seems strong on attack, and Volchenkov/Schultz seems strong on D– that’d make sense if Boudreau matched his D-pairings to the other teams grinders and attack lines, but I don’t think he does that so much.

  • Charlie

    So who will sing the Russian National Anthem before games?

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  • Tim

    A-Train fulfills a ton of needs, without question. And we need a thumper back there, right now Carlson is probably our most physical d-man – which is a credit to him, but that shouldn’t be his role. And Schultz couldn’t hit anybody, even if he could catch them in the first place.

    Crazy to even think about moving Semin – young 40 goal scorers don’t fall off trees, and he wasn’t exactly centered by Peter Forsberg.

    Disagreed a bit about the centers available – Plekanec in particular – but John Cullen is NOT one I hope being considered, for a center way too many of his passes miss the mark, when he even bothers to pass.

  • Trevor

    We really need to land this guy!! such a big help….but lets stay home for a second, sure guys like Flash, Semin, and Green were a non-factor in the playoffs but you gotta remember what these guys did during the season…..Flash as saved our buns many of times….Semin was a stud….and Green was awesome.

    But Getting Volchie would make all the haters stand up and take notice, he would be perfect for what we need to do….i think he might be that one last piece guys.