Francois Lacasse

Photo: Francois Lacasse

Finally. The Caps got positively crushed over the past few weeks, but it’s over now. Before they lost that game to Buffalo on the 12th, the Caps had a 60% chance of making the playoffs. It got as low as 12% before they finally won on Saturday. That losing streak hurt badly, but as we’ve seen from the last two weeks it has been driven by bad shooting and save percentages, not overall awful play (unlike the Habs, who really are eroding).

The streak ended in spectacular fashion, a five-goal shutout that typified everything we’ve learned about this team: their puck possession is getting better, their shooting percentage couldn’t possibly stay so low, their opponents’ shooting percentage couldn’t possibly stay so high. Saturday was a perfect metaphorical storm of regression and solid underlying play asserting itself.

None of that means the Caps won’t get ice cold again, but it should help us remember a simple truth: no team is as bad as it looks during a seven-game losing streak.

These are the numbers as of (a little after) noon on Sunday, January 26th. The sample is restricted to 5-on-5 play while the score is close. That means within one goal in the first two periods and tied in the third. That way special teams, blowouts, and comebacks don’t color the data. Stats of note are highlighted in powderpuff pink and discussed below.

See previous snapshots: week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5, week 6, week 7, week 8, week 9, week 10, week 11, week 12, week 13, week 14, week 15, week 16

Forwards

Player Pos GP TOI GF GA SA% Sh% Sv% PDO ZS%
Aaron Volpatti L 39 192.4 3 5 39.2% 4.6% 94.7% 99.4 53.6%
Alex Ovechkin L 48 459.9 14 17 49.9% 5.5% 93.4% 98.9 59.5%
Brooks Laich C 38 307.4 9 9 46.4% 6.9% 94.2% 101.1 51.4%
Eric Fehr R 43 355.2 11 16 51.1% 6% 91.1% 97.1 48.2%
Jason Chimera L 52 426.8 21 23 47.1% 9.4% 90.7% 100.1 46%
Jay Beagle C 32 183.7 2 3 45.8% 2.8% 96.3% 99.1 51.7%
Joel Ward R 52 409.7 19 21 49.4% 8.8% 90.7% 99.5 46.9%
Marcus Johansson C 52 445.5 14 21 48.2% 6.7% 91.1% 97.9 55.1%
Martin Erat R 44 307.4 13 14 51.1% 8.4% 91.3% 99.7 48.9%
Michael Latta C 17 67.6 3 4 48.1% 10.3% 88.2% 98.6 48.5%
Mikhail Grabovski C 49 418.4 20 14 50.5% 8.7% 93.9% 102.5 51.8%
Nicklas Backstrom C 52 477.1 13 20 49.8% 5.2% 92.5% 97.7 56.1%
Tom Wilson R 52 241.1 7 9 44.1% 7.9% 92.2% 100 57.7%
Troy Brouwer R 52 424.1 12 12 47.7% 6.8% 94.4% 101.2 50.2%

Defense

Player Pos GP TOI GF GA SA% Sh% Sv% PDO ZS%
Nate Schmidt D 29 283.1 12 10 50.6% 8.5% 93.4% 101.8 55.9%
John Erskine D 26 255.4 10 11 47.4% 8.5% 91.4% 100 49.2%
John Carlson D 52 536.9 17 26 46.3% 6.4% 91.5% 97.9 49.9%
Karl Alzner D 52 543.1 16 20 47% 6.1% 93.2% 99.3 50.3%
Mike Green D 45 576.1 16 20 53.1% 5.4% 92.8% 98.2 56.1%
Steve Oleksy D 33 293.8 18 11 47.5% 13% 92.8% 105.7 52.2%
Dmitry Orlov D 26 320 7 12 53.4% 4.3% 92% 96.3 51.1%

Observations

  • Good news first: the Capitals’ puck possession (i.e. even-strength shot-attempt percentage) is almost average! They are now a 49.51% team, up from 49.36% last week. If the Caps can keep it up, they’ll finish the season as a team that actually outshoots its opponents.
  • But you don’t care about that right now. You care about the losing streak (RIP), which has been extinguished thanks to a five-goal explosion/Braden Holtby shutout. The Capitals righted the PDO ship with a 14.7% shooting percentage and 100% save percentage. Remember last week, when I said, “The Caps will shoot 15% sometime in the next three months and they’ll even get a shutout or two.” Oh snap. That was creepy.
  • Ovechkin missed games, Grabovski missed games, but at least we got Jay Beagle and Casey Wellman to score!
  • Neil Greenberg of WaPo (and an RMNB alum) wrote a piece I like a lot about how the Chicago Blackhawks use their fourth line. The Hawks have a stout line of grinders, who take more than three quarters of their non-neutral zone starts in the defensive zone, freeing up the scoring lines to attack more often. Compare that with DC, where Tom Wilson gets the second most favorable zone starts (ZS%) behind Alex Ovechkin. The sheltering Oates gives his very weak fourth line has certainly cost the second and third lines scoring opportunities.
  • More on Wilson, who racked up three minor penalties and a fight this week. Way back in October I cut a video asking what kind of player Wilson will become– a scorer or a sideshow. I’d say everything is leading us to conclude the latter, but there’s also that brilliant pass he made to Jay Beagle in Montreal. Wilson needs to get his big ass off the bottom line, where he can do more of this.

  • I’ve heard a bunch of criticism for Martin Erat this week. He’s currently ranked 15th on the ice-cold list (most shots without a goal), and he’s been busted for 10 penalty minutes since the 19th. That stinks, but consider the other side. Despite playing with the bottom lines, Erat drives a bigger share of shot attempts in the Caps’ favor during close games (SA%) than any other forward. And despite playing 200 fewer minutes of five-on-five hockey than Marcus Johansson, Erat has one more assist. For the record, they have about the same clip for generating shot attempts– 17.5 per 20 minutes by Erat, 18.9 by Mojo. But Mojo has one five-on-five goal this season, so obviously Erat is a bum. Trade the bum!
  • Check out Dmitry Orlov‘s on-ice shooting percentage (Sh%), a lowly 4.3%. Expect to see that turn around soon; Orly is usually good for one to three shots per game, and he generates a lot of offense for the other guys on the ice for him as well– more than Erat and Mojo.
  • This will be Steve Oleksy‘s last week on the snapshot, unless he gets called up. Oleksy cleared waivers and showed up in Hershey, where I somewhat doubt he’ll enjoy a 13% on-ice shooting percentage, but he’ll be a solid D-man on the AHL level. Maybe we’ll see him again.
  • But not too soon. The Caps aren’t going to get better by pulling guys up from Hershey. That worked back in 2008 and 2009, but not anymore. The farm has been depleted, and it’s time for the Capitals to make moves. Because even though PDO stopped losing games for them, the team still has a ceiling to its success. Without consistently owning the puck with a shot-attempt percentage or a Vezina-level goalie (the Caps have neither), the team would have to rely on good fortune to make the playoffs. Instead, the best move George McPhee could make is a lot of ‘em. Defensive depth, a second-line winger, offloading salary bloat (but not Mike Green): there’s work to be done. The Olympic break is coming; how long will the Caps roster look like this? What do you want to see happen? Let me know below.

Glossary

  • GP: Games played
  • TOI: Time on ice
  • GF: Capitals goals for which the player was on the ice
  • GA: Opponent goals for which the player was on the ice
  • SA%: Percentage of shot attempts (from both teams) that went towards the opponent’s net, excluding blocked shots
  • Sh%: Capitals’ shooting percentage while the player was on the ice
  • Sv%: Capitals’ goalie save percentage while the player was on the ice
  • PDO: The sum of Sh% and Sv%, a number that regresses closely to 100 in larger samples; a proxy for luck, in a sense– i.e. high ≈ lucky
  • ZS%: The share of shifts the player started in the offensive zone, excluding neutral-zone starts; data not limited to close games.

Thanks to ExtraSkater.com for the stats.

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  • Jack Conness

    As much as I’ve hated on this team the past couple of weeks, it always seems like a win changes everything. Don’t worry, once they lose another 4 out of 5 I will be pissed. But last night was a success. Great having Ovi back of course. I really enjoy seeing Tom Wilson get more ice time. We see this guy’s ceiling. He could be an offensive threat. He just needs to see the ice. I really hope to see Fehr and Wardo jump back up and see Laich and Brouwer bumped down to the 4th line but that probably won’t happen.

    It was great seeing Holtby get the shutout last night too. No one deserves it more than him. He has been through more than enough the past couple of months. I hope he goes on a dominating tear the rest of the season.

  • John Atchison

    The best part of this article was the ending. Changes have to be made, and beating a collapsing Montreal bunch shows a whole lot of nothing. Hungry teams like Columbus and the Rangers showed what we look like when evenly matched. The sad fact is though that we are between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, we need to make moves. On the other hand, right now that is GMGM making the moves. Does anyone have the confidence in him to pull the trigger on anything at this point? If you do, I suggest cutting back to half a Valium a day.

  • Rob W.

    No more Volpatti, I was impressed by Wellman’s speed and the ability to play hockey which Volpatti struggles with. Im also pretty tired of Wilson fighting every game. The kid needs to focus on other things than knuckle sandwiches

  • Eric Schulz

    I want to try Laich on defense again, turning the 3rd line over to Johansson; hopefully that a) helps Johansson by allowing him to play center, b) allows Erat to do some things with more playing time (I hated the trade at the time, and I don’t hate it more now only because that would be impossible, but he’s not a horrible player, and he’s here now, so there’s no point in burying him, and I think having him there helps depth all around), c) pushes Wilson up to get him more playing time, and d) stabilizes the top-4 if Laich can be the guy I think he can be:
    Erat – Backstrom – Ovechkin
    Fehr – Grabovski – Ward
    Chimera – Johansson – Wilson
    Wellman – Beagle – Brouwer
    Alzner – Carlson
    Laich – Green
    Orlov – Erskine
    Holtby
    Neuvirth
    send Carrick back down, keep Hillen as a scratch (I’d have no problem with flipping Hillen and Erskine, but I doubt it would happen… although, you know, not like it’s reasonable to hope Laich is moved to D either), find a trade partner for Neuvirth (I wouldn’t mind straight up for a 1st, although we should get back another piece because I doubt it’d be in the top half of the round… a nice prospect or a solid 5th defenseman to pair with Orlov would be fine)… not sure i want to see more than that. I have no faith in GMGM to make a single good move. If he moves anybody aside from Neuvirth, my first thought will be “Oh no, what did he do now?”

  • John Atchison

    Sorry Erskine should not be on the defense at all.

  • Owen Johnson

    I understand maybe Oates feels Volpatti brings toughness to the lineup, but damn, that SA% is REALLLLLLLLY bad.

  • Dominic Kreiner

    I’m still optimistic about Erat, but he’s proved nothing since he’s been with the team. All his recent play proves is that there was nowhere to go but up. Erat has a ceiling too, and it is impossible to know where it may be.

  • Patrick Neimeyer

    Let’s hope we can ride this over to Buffalo on Tuesday. Losing to one of the worst teams in the NHL twice stings a little bit but I think we found some chemistry. From my perspective the inclusion of Casey Wellman breathed some new life into the lineup. I think for alot of the players, they saw a kid who was hungry, regardless of a streak, winning or losing. They played for him and for their parents who were in the stand. A fire is good when simmering, but a few changes could stoke this puppy into an inferno. Let’s hope for the best, and as always bleed red :)

  • Chris Cerullo

    Michael Latta should be on this team instead of Volpatti and he had a great showing last night in Hershey. Tom Wilson getting more ice time is an absolutely necessary thing but I have a hard time seeing him surpass Laich or Brouwer due to the weird infatuation this coaching staff has with them. It’s also another case of the fans wanting something for such a long time but the coaching staff only deploying it after, in this case, 7 straight losses. I understand Adam Oates is a coach in the NHL for a reason but the handling of Erat, Wilson, the configuration of the 1st line, misuse of the 4th line, and pure obliviousness to how awful the 21/20 connection is makes me worry. Also Grabo needs to return quickly or we are in even more trouble.

  • Daniel Walker

    Dump salary (Brooks, Erat, Neuvie) at the trade deadline when GM’s are desperate and irrational (see GMGM 2013). Get whatever draft picks & prospects you can in return (simply clearing up that much cap space is return enough as far as I am concerned). Allow the new GM (Wayne Gretzky) to wisely use the new cap flexibility to surround our new core (OV, Nicky, Kuzy and of course Casey Wellman) with sensibly priced, proven veterans who are willing to take paycuts to come to DC because Wayne Gretzky told them to.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    When does Kuznetsov get on the snapshot?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    March 5th. Shouldn’t you be taking engagement photos?!

  • Pat Magee

    Did you guys already do a piece on where he’s gonna fit into the lineup? Because this is important stuff we need to discuss! lol

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Check this out: http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/showplayer.php?pid=1426&withagainst=true&season=2013-14&sit=5v5

    When Volpatti doesn’t have Wilson, his CF% (like our shot attempt % here, including blocks and all score situations) is 28.3%

  • Owen Johnson

    It shows we’re better than Montreal.

    Last night was certainly fun, but I will wait for a couple more wins to say “we’re back.”

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Like 8 or 9 times. Ian thinks he’s a winger. I do too– if Grabo is 2C.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I agree. Left wing on hopefully one of the top two lines.

  • Pat Magee

    8 or 9? I’m talking since he’s ACTUALLY coming over!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    When he was healthy, he had the equivalent of a 45 point season in the NHL. Def top 6*

    * if healthy

  • Owen Johnson

    Kuznetsov?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    “The best part of this article was the ending”

    Because then it was over

    OHHHH

  • Owen Johnson

    Also, didn’t you guys tweet that Wilson’s % last night was 65? I feel that’s a common theme when Ratty Volpatti gets scratched.

  • dylan wheatley

    “trhe beagle and the damage done” ahahaha i love you pete

  • Owen Johnson

    Your rants are hahahaahahahah best )))))

  • Chris Cerullo

    But all that momentum he provides from fighting ;)

  • Eric Schulz

    Neuvirth is more than reasonably priced. We should get a top-flight prospect or a 1st for him, at least (a top-10 first wouldn’t be “at least,” but reasonably I would expect something like the 16th pick or later, in which case I’d like more than that – a promising but flawed prospect, perhaps the equivalent of Galiev). I’d look to move him because he can’t be a starter because Holtby, and we have Grubauer coming up, so he’s a genuine asset.
    I agree with moving Erat. I like Laich, and hope he returns to form. Obviously he isn’t worth what we are paying him (what GMGM stupidly gave him, and for too long), but maybe we could re-negotiate? I’d like to hang onto him; not sure how feasible that is.

  • Eric Schulz

    I’m looking at this season, not expecting Kuznetsov until next. I’d like to see him on the first when he gets here; we could flip around a number of things, but moving Erat just to unload his contract would be maybe the best way to make room. I’d still want some kind of return, perhaps a 2nd tiered prospect and a 2nd rounder, I wouldn’t want to move him JUST to move him, but it would help on both levels.
    We could also look at moving Ward or Brouwer (I think Brouwer is the better player overall, although clearly Ward is playing better, so we could sell high on Ward and keep the better player), and move Erat down to 2nd line to make room for Kuznetsov, or just put Kuznetsov on 2nd…. I want to say “if we want to shelter him,” but really, what better shelter is there for a player getting used to the NHL than playing with Ovie (and Backstrom)?

  • Eric Schulz

    He adds a physicality that we lack, so I see his purpose. Also, he was pretty good not that long ago; more than likely he won’t return to that form, unfortunately. But yes, we’d be better off with Schmidt, Oleksy, or Hillen there.
    I do like one puck-mover and one people-mover per pairing though; I’d probably try to move Hillen and Erskine to pick up a legit 3rd pairing guy to use with Orlov… but GMGM would botch that, so w/e.

  • Owen Johnson

    Well there was that one time when the Flyers goon snuck up behind him and assaulted him, only to have Volpatti kick his ass. That was awesome. Also, playing lead guitar on the Christmas video.

    But he’s not good at teh hockeys.

  • Graham Dumas

    I hereby renew my membership in the I Agree with Jack club. Particularly re Oates, Brouwer, and Laich. Stop the insanity!!!

  • Graham Dumas

    Plus 1 for the Dice

  • ajansen1

    Nice Neil Young reference

  • Matt Lauer

    I just want to see the average footspeed of the team improve. I would love them to get Michael Grabner. I think some players from Edmonton could be plucked away, depending on the overall assessment of the future they have going on over there. I would REALLY like to seem them go after Radim Vrbata or Andrew Ladd.

    As for trades, IMHO Laich, Erat, Brouwer, and Neuvirth should all be traded. Brouwer is on the last year of his contract, just get whatever you can for him. Erat has one more year left, and we simply can’t afford to use a compliance buyout on his contract. Laich is just overrated and overpaid, plain and simple. Neuvirth wants out and I frankly want to see Grubi play more.

  • settinguptheplay

    What is with the Gretzky for caps GM thing going around? Did Tracee Hamilton or Mike Wise write a silly piece on it?

  • Jack Conness

    Haha thanks Owen. I didn’t think this was too much of a rant…much more upbeat then I have been, but I do appreciate it! And Graham, thanks for joining the club! I feel like a lot of us agree on many of these things.

  • Jack Conness

    Totally agree. We are in a real tough spot. Are we really that good? Or should we plan for the future? We don’t want to see GMGM make a dumb move to win “this year” (like the Erat trade).

  • Jack Conness

    YES! Thank you. I wouldn’t mind planning for next season and by adding some draft picks and prospects and dumping some contracts. I think that makes a lot of sense.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    GMGM will absolutely do whatever it takes to make the playoffs. He’s in the final year of his contract, and he’s made the postseason for the past six seasons. If he wants a contract extension here or a good deal elsewhere, he needs to keep that streak going.

    Even if it means “mortgaging the team’s future” (how I characterized it last year, and I stand by it).

  • Jack Conness

    I would never give GMGM a hard time again if he traded Brouwer. I don’t see that ever happening, but I wish.

  • Jack Conness

    Bingo Chris. You are totally right…about everything.

  • Jack Conness

    What’s your take Peter? On GMGM and on this season? Should we go for it all or pull back the reigns?

  • Matt Lauer

    Don’t make promises you don’t intend to follow through on, Jack.

  • Jack Conness

    True…I take it back…oops…

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    On Nov 22, Gretzky watched a Caps game with the Ted. http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2013/11/22/wayne-gretzky-is-watching-the-caps-game-in-the-owners-box-with-ted-leonsis-tonight/

    On Dec 3, the league and Gretzky patched up their differences.

    On Dec 4, Bob McKenzie said Gretzky has been in talks with a few teams, among them the Caps, about returning to hockey in some respect.

    That’s all we know.

  • Matt Lauer

    I have been very concerned for the past few weeks that Backstrom could be on the trading block.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I’ve been on Team Rebuild since Dale Hunter left.

    I want a new coach, a sell-off at the deadline, a plan for the rebuild publicized online, and a hockey analytics team crunching numbers for the draft and free agency.

    I won’t get any of those things, but I’ll get over it.

    I’d be fine if McPhee stayed, as long as some of the more harebrained stuff (e.g. DJ King, Erskine extension, the insane back half of Ovi’s contract) falls to the wayside.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Oh I wouldn’t worry about that!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    ATTN: Brouwer Rangers

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    who?

  • Jack Conness

    Okay, I gotcha. Thank you! I am totally with you right now. But I guess I don’t understand one thing. You want a full rebuild, yet you want to keep GMGM? I realize me and many others dislike him more than we should, but wouldn’t you want to move on from him? He has done well, of course, but 17 years now correct? It is like Andy Reid in Philly. Sometimes you just have to move on.

  • Matt Lauer

    For the record, I think the dissatisfaction with McPhee is fully justified.

  • Matt Lauer

    You don’t think that McPhee would try it if it meant a blockbuster deal? I’m willing to say that most anybody is up for grabs, except Ovi.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I really respect McPhee as a guy and an administrator of people. I still disagree with a lot he’s done (http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2013/04/02/george-mcphee-is-wrong-about-a-lot-of-things/ ), but his 2004 rebuild was really brave. He’s made a handful of really, really, really impressive moves (Feds, signing Grabo, trading Varly, standing up against Nylander, letting Ribs walk) though.

    If he commits to a rebuild and staffs up a bit, I think he could still have a future here.

    That’s not to say I expect it; I don’t. But I’d be okay if he stuck around.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Not unless someone really overvalues Backstrom. Backstrom is an elite top-line center. He’ll be great for another 5+ years. It’s really effing tough to replace those guys, so I can’t imagine the Caps would part with him.

  • Matt Lauer

    Again, however, the McPhee factor is in play. Whatevs, I certainly hope you’re right!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett
  • settinguptheplay

    I wasn’t aware of the Mckenzie comments. Makes a lot more sense now.

  • Jack Conness

    I agree with you Matt. By the way, thank you for your input Peter! I am happy to know where you stand. IMO, I think GMGM just has to move on. I think we need a new face and a new team. We shall see.

  • Eric Schulz

    I hate a lot of what GMGM has done, but you are right, he’s also done some nice things (I don’t give him nearly the credit you do for Grabovski, that seemed a no-brainer – he gets credit, just not tons), but looking at his entire track record, I just don’t see why you’d want him. Overall, I think his trades have been AWFUL (acquiring Ribeiro was very nice.. can’t think of much else I particularly like, the Varly trade I thought was great for both teams, and looking back at it, it’s clear I was right, except I didn’t realize GMGM would waste that pick; it looked REALLY good for a moment there, though), his drafting has been pretty shoddy after the first round…. perhaps you give him credit for acquiring as many picks as he did when he gambled on guys like Semin?… and I don’t even like his decisions re: free agency/signing guys: Laich’s was awful, Green’s has been bad – in his defense, that one wasn’t nearly as bad at the time, I think it was about as bad as Ovie’s and Backstrom’s: if you don’t get them at a discount, then don’t sign them for longer than 4 or 5 to have a bit more flexibility. Ward was too much for too long… maybe he’s done a better job with the smaller things that I’ve forgotten.
    He hasn’t been atrocious though, I don’t think; I’m so, so glad I’m not a Leafs fan, for example. Not sure I’d want to keep GMGM though. Again, what really concerns me was that he seemed to change philosophy when we didn’t win the Cup with Semin… he seemed to think that we had too much skill; I would argue adding grit would’ve been nice, but I really would’ve only wanted a top-4 defender, and better goaltending (the latter solved with time, as we were just too young, not lacking talent). I would’ve preferred a more logical approach, similar to Billy Beane: playoffs are a crap shoot, just put together the best team you can, and keep rolling it out. I don’t necessarily buy that you needed to change the team, just continue to supplement the best you can.
    And, I’ve said it many times, and I’ll never stop, the Forsberg trade killed me. Had he been willing to be patient and make the right moves, even if it meant this year we weren’t as bullish, but we had guys like Kuznetsov, Forsberg, and Burakovsky coming up, I’d be okay with that, and would be MUCH more inclined to give him the time to manage THAT future team. Yes, we want a Cup with Ovie at his prime, but when he starts to slip, those three could/should really replace (and more) his production, and with some improvement along the blue-line, and continued growth in goal, there’s no reason to go “all-in.” Being the Sharks isn’t the greatest, but it’s not like teams like that CAN’T win, it’s just really, really hard to win the Cup, and you need luck. Rookie goalies doesn’t help in that respect, and we had some bad luck with Backstrom and Green being hurt when the playoffs rolled around the last few years.

  • RESmith

    It’s hard to see the Caps not making a move for another defenseman or two. A lot depends on Erat and what the team he is willing to be traded to is willing to return back. I would also like them to pick up some higher or mid round draft picks, as you are right, the farm is a little threadbare. There is a reason we/Hershey had to sign AHL vets like Dane Byers, Jeff Taffe, and Ryan Stoa to carry some of the leadership/scoring duties to keep their roster competitive.

    As for Tom Wilson, the Caps are handling him the same as the Bruins did with Lucic, the player most amateur scouts compared him to. Lucic spent close to two seasons on the fourth line before being given the opportunity among the top six.

  • johnnymorte

    Thanks Pete. A scoring winger and a shutdown defenseman is just what the doctor ordered. Shape up or ship out GMGM . Nail Yakupov and Henrik Tallinder are good places to start. Tallinder is UFA, and I’m sure he would like a shot at the ranks before he retires.

  • serpent

    Me.too.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Thank you on Erat. The possession game is why GMGM traded away a top prospect for him. He was always one of the guys I feared most when Detroit played Nashville as he could play the Wings game against them (big body + good stick handling) and I thought he’d be a great fit in DC. Unfortunately, he’s been horribly misused by Oates which I’m sure has led to his frustration (and bad penalties).

    Also, to those people saying trade Neuvy: goalie is one of the few places this team has some depth, not a lot, but some. You don’t trade away your only insurance policy. Also, I think GMGM missed his window to trade a goalie this season; think the NSH-LA-EDM trade sealed up the market for now.

    That pass by Greenie to Wilson was pretty slick too.

  • JessHughes

    Pretty nuanced discussion by commenterati…tend to agree. GMGM has done good things as noted above and below; however, he has a huge tendency to over value players he already has and to pay them way too much money (other than the muy bueno RFA contracts for Alzner, Carlson, and MoJo). The amount of money the Caps are paying Erskine, Neuvrith, Laich, Brower, Erat and even Ward (who while playing better is still not worth $3M). By over paying players, the Caps have hamstrung themselves against the salary cap and the ability to make trades. By the way I have no answer here…just pointing out a tendency.

  • chad schwartz

    One point I think everyone should keep in mind about all of these ‘moves’ GMGM should make is this year it is almost impossible to make any meaningful trades. Remember, the salary cap has gone down this year so all of these scenarios you guys are talking about where the Caps dump salary are just unrealistic. It also means trades are extremely hard to construct since about half of the teams are within 3 mil of the salary cap. Do you really think any GM could can get a good return on any player that is overpaid with the way the cap is this year??

  • Barrett

    There’s a bunch of decent blue liners out there than can improve the defense for Washington: Henrik Tallinder is one, but he’s 35 years old. The others would include Dan Girardi, Andrew MacDonald, Nick Schultz, Anton Belov, Nikita Nikitin, and Trevor Daley.

    The Nail Yakupov trade is interesting because it’s obvious Edmonton wants experience and veteran leadership on their roster. Why not ship Troy Brouwer out of town? As much as most people want to dump Brooks Laich, he contributes more (faceoffs, penalty killing) than Brouwer ever has.

  • Paul W.

    brouwer has 2 seasons left after this one at 3.6 mil cap hit.
    http://capgeek.com/capitals

  • Hockey mom

    Yea for Jay! I couldn’t get a pic to post the other day, but hopefully it works this time! Also, I still miss #61…

  • Shawn Murphy

    Man look at that TOI for Nicky. I never thought of him as such a horse, but maybe that’s my own idiocy.
    NHL.com says he is 17th overall for forwards this season (this is the extent of my ability as a statguy, no joke)

  • Hockey mom

    I’m in the minority, too, but I think Erat is a good player. I watch practices pretty frequently, as I’m already at Kettler for my kid’s practice, and there have been a few times when I mistook Erat for Ovie (they wear unmarked jerseys) by the way he skated and handled the puck. I think Oates has a thing about loyalty, which is good, but needs to be tempered by reality. The loyalty to some players with Caps seniority left little room for a new guy like Erat to make a difference on this team, and it is unfortunate, since he was brought here to do just that. I can imagine that it is frustrating for him, too, he isn’t getting any younger and if he has any dreams of holding the cup, sitting on the bench or skating on the fourth line must be very hard to do while the other lines produce almost nothing.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I wouldn’t lump Neuvy in with that group. His 2.5 mil is actually a pretty good deal for a solid 1b goalie. It’s actually a very attractive cap amount for a guy who could be a 1a with the right team in front of him. Not that I think the Caps should trade him, but it makes him one of the more easily moved pieces (4.5 mil hit for both laich and erat, no way). Ward isn’t nearly as bad either as he’s actually chipped in quite a few points this season (2nd on the team in goals) and does a lot of other good things: forechecking, locker room presence, etc.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I don’t agree.

    2.5M isn’t a lot for a goalie, but that’s mostly because the goalie market is bad.

    Neuvy is a .910 goalie, which is slightly below average. (Brodeur is .912.) Those numbers should be independent of how the team plays in front of him.

    Plus, Neuvirth has requested a trade publicly already.

    I think Holtby has a firm grasp on the #1 spot (in a just world): http://www.extraskater.com/players/dashboard?players=636,188

    He saves 1.1% higher with an inferior team in front of him (shot attempt differential).

  • Shaun Phillips

    Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have said 1b as it’s pretty clear he’s been a 2 since early last season. Still, with the cap rising next year, I don’t think 4.3 mil+ for 2 goalies is a bad deal (plus having a NHL-quality backup with Grubi in Hershey). The public trade demand is another issue and probably what will get him moved quicker (but for less return).

  • johnnymorte

    I’m on that boat completely. Brouwer had a ton of puck luck last year and I was on the trading platform even before the dust settled. His value will only decrease as time passes. Laich is a valuable piece despite what other fans think of him right now. He is overpaid, but that’s GMGM’s fault.. He’s also coming off a long stretch of injuries I would like if we gave him a chance, he’s been a rock for this organization for years. Look for his play to improve as the season progresses.

  • ajansen1
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