Either the rumors were true, or even a blind squirrel bumps into a nut sometimes. In the end, Tomas Fleischmann is now a mile high, traded to the Colorado Avalanche for blueliner Scott Hannan.
If we look at the trade from Flash’s point of view, it’s a great move. He goes to a team that wants him, most likely to fill a Top 6 spot left vacant when leading scorer Chris Stewart broke his hand in a fight with Minnesota’s Kyle Brodziak. Sometimes a change of scenery is just what a player needs to get back on track. RMNB wishes him the very best.
The move makes sense for the Capitals for a variety of reasons:
1. The price for shutdown defensemen only goes up the closer you get to the trade deadline. We learned this past summer that “shutdown” defensemen are in hot demand like iPads in the holiday season. When you are stacked with blue chippers on the blueline and in goal, it makes sense that other teams would hold your feet to the fire.
2. Chemistry developed earlier is better than chemistry developed later. Hannan has a jump start on this already, having played in the AHL and NHL with Matt Bradley and with Hendricks on Colorado last year. Coach Boudreau has the time he needs to find Hannan the right partner, whether that’s part of the top pair with Mike Green or bottom pair with Poti or Erskine.
3. Clear upgrade on the blueline. Sloan, while good as a fill in, is not dependable enough to get a sweater every night. Plus, this move gets the Caps another step closer to a sustained playoff run, and that’s where Hannan shined last year. Hannan, along with Kyle Quincey, spent 85% of their even strength time against the Sharks’ top two lines, and posted the best chances differential among all Colorado defenders.
4. Everything else remains intact. The Caps keep their draft picks, prospects and players essential to their long term plans (Carlzner, Neuvirth, etc.) without compromising future cap space. Fleischmann, while considered a top six forward by some, just wasn’t. At least not yet. Besides, his linemates do better away from him than they did with him.
5. Maybe Mathieu Perreault gets a shot. To me, the move signifies that Marcus Johannson is going to be given every opportunity to solidify himself in the second center spot. That leaves the third pivot open for Mathieu Perreault, who currently has 8 goals and 16 assists in 16 games played for the Hershey Bears. If we translate that to the NHL level, he would project to have roughly 4 goals and 8 assists in 16 NHL games – an upgrade over Flash’s 10 points in 23 games.