Photo credit: Rob Carr
After their loss to division-leading Carolina on Tuesday, Washington finds themselves 10 points out of first place in the Southeast and seven points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with 23 games to go. Despite a stretch of good play before their three-game losing streak, the club is further out of the playoff race than they were before.
With that said, is this the point where the franchise considers becoming “sellers” and completely rebuilds? CBC analyst Craig Simpson says yes.
Simpson, who played ten years in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres, spoke about the Capitals on Wednesday in a chat on CBC’s website.
Craig Simpson: I pick Washington as one of my biggest disappointments. they are a complete disaster. Ovie has been inconsistent, their goaltending continues to disappoint, and they seem very dysfunctional. I am sure Dale Hunter is sitting in London watching from a far and saying thank god i left. Can’t win with Ovie as your face of franchise and so called leader. toxic
CBCSports.ca – Jordan: What do you think the Caps will/should do?
Craig Simpson: I’m not sure if Oates and McPhee will make it through this year. I think they need to clean house. If I had the money, I would think about trading Ovie, or buying him out. Can’t win with him, if you can’t coach him.
Craig Simpson: I know a buyout sounds crazy, but I think you need to change the culture there. Can’t do that if Ovie is your captain and 9M cap hit. Yikes.
We’ve already addressed the meme about the Capitals being too dumb for Adam Oates, so I’ll just link to that story right now. But Ovechkin is toxic? I thought that was Alex Semin’s deal. Would it be faster at this point to just list the Caps players who are not supposedly awful people?
With Filip Forsberg set to become a full-time player next season and Evgeny Kuznetsov on the way a year after that, the Capitals have some high-end offensive talent coming. While the Caps may not see a full return on investment from Ovechkin on the ice for the rest of the life of his deal, he is still a perennial 20-30 goal scorer. That’s nothing to scoff at.
If in the end, McPhee does consider cutting Ovi loose, no team in its right mind would take on Ovechkin and his $10-million annual cap hit for the next eight years. And besides, Ovechkin’s value to the franchise off the ice makes the idea of buying him out silly.
Instead of completely gutting the team, the Capitals should sell at the deadline and look to deal away veterans who are not part of the team’s core: Mike Ribeiro, Jason Chimera, and Tom Poti. They should acquire prospects and picks that will transform this team into a Stanley Cup contender within the next few years. Augmentation, not reinvention.
The Capitals lack both depth and high-end talent. A month ago, former prospect Eric Fehr called Washington “a pretty old team” to On Frozen Blog’s Elizabeth Meinecke. And if you look at the roster, it’s true. The Caps have rising stars on defense (Karl Alzner, John Carlson, and Dmitry Orlov), a stud in goal (Braden Holtby), and three top-six forwards (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Troy Brouwer) that they can depend on in the future. The rest of their roster consists of overpaid veterans whose value would be best utilized on a team that is built to win now. The Capitals are not that team.
The Capitals don’t need to rebuild. They just need to retool. And Craig Simpson should really come down to Kettler or come to some games before accusing Ovechkin of being some horrible, uncoachable guy that nobody likes.
Yeah, his teammates hate him.