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|
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:
- 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.
- 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.