Second-Line Centers And Unicorns

Marty Reasoner

Photo credit: Christopher Pasatieri

There is more than one team that needs a second-line center at the deadline. With a thin pool to draw from it may be easier for the Capitals to secure the services of a unicorn than a pivot to provide auxiliary scoring. With $7,357,085 in cap space available for Washington, RMNB takes a look at who may be attractive candidates.

If we restrict our search for true second-line centers, we need some parameters. I like to use Puck Prospectus’ definition, which is: they score at least 1.7 even-strength points per 60 minutes. I will also limit it to players who are on teams projected to miss the playoffs, have played at least 30 games this season and have seen significant minutes at even strength.

Here is what we are left with:

Name Team P/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel QoT Corsi Rel DefZ W% Ozone% Yrs Left Cap hit
Bryan Little ATL 2.11 0.369 1.010 5.7 50.0% 52.0% 2 $2.38
R.J. Umberger CBJ 2.49 0.468 2.678 8.3 55.4% 55.2% 1 $3.75
Matt Stajan CGY 2.18 0.615 -0.436 2.1 49.4% 55.0% 3 $3.50
Marty Reasoner FLA 1.75 0.560 -1.812 -7.1 58.8% 40.4% 0 UFA
Rostislav Olesz FLA 2.02 0.705 -0.271 0.9 45.1% 48.7% 3 $3.13
Jason Spezza OTT 1.86 0.622 -1.631 4.4 56.0% 48.5% 4 $7.00
Eric Belanger PHX 1.76 0.430 1.700 6.4 56.9% 48.9% 0 UFA

We can throw a few names out based on “been there, done that” (Eric Belanger) and long term cost (Jason Spezza, Rostislav Olesz and Matt Stajan). I dismiss pivots who carry a long-term cost for two reasons:

  1. Despite what Evgeny Kuznetsov is saying, I fully expect him to be in the discussion for the second-line center spot in a year or two.
  2. I haven’t seen a desire from Caps General Manager George McPhee to take on long-term salary via a trade or free agency.

Brian Little probably has one too many years left on his deal, plus he plays for a division rival that is sure to be in playoff hunt next year. So he’s out too.

That leaves Marty Reasoner and R.J. Umberger.

Umberger is the “sexy” choice, but has played with better teammates (Corsi, Rel, QoT). He has also benefited from being deployed in the offensive zone (Ozone%) more frequently. Reasoner, on the other hand, has played with some really poor line-mates yet still maintains a healthy 1.75 points per 60 minutes of even strength (P/60) — which would be good for 4th best on the Caps’ roster. Plus, he is winning over 58% of defensive zone face-offs this year despite starting in the offensive zone only 40% of the time! Add to that his UFA status after this season and I think he could be a great addition to Caps for their playoff push.

  • Noah

    Spezza!

  • Trevor

    He’s a class act too. Good guy in the locker room…

  • Lee

    Any chance we can get Butch Goring for the run to the playoffs?

  • Fedor Fedin

    Neil, what about guys like Nik Antropov, Radek Dvorak, Rich Peverley or Jason Arnott?

  • barb

    i’d say umberger just to punish him for making wise cracks about the caps last year. not that his wise cracks didn’t turn out prophetic. but nothing would taste better than making him eat a little crow. ‘welcome to the club, rj. now if you’d like to show us what we’re doing wrong, we promise not to flush your head in the toilet a few hundred times.’

    one night, i’d like bruce to get wild and crazy, and put steckel on the second line, just for grins. bradley, steckel, and semin :) let’s give it a try!

  • Colin

    What about Weiss?

  • Rockin’ The Red in VA

    Any thoughts on Parise?

  • Tim

    I was wondering about Arnott. He falls slightly below the points/60 mark you set (he has 1.68), but could probably be obtained for a low price. He also has the bonus of UFA status. I just don’t know how his other stats stack up.

    Reasoner is intriguing – and not a name I’ve heard mentioned before in this debate. He makes sense though. We don’t need a goal-scoring 2C, it works fine if he can play as a set-up man.

  • Pierre-Olivier

    Weiss. How did you not mention him?

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