“The Pittsburgh Penguins are proud to select, out of nowhere, a guy you will never hear from again.” (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

After the Pittsburgh Penguins collapsed against the New York Rangers, some readers suggested that the Caps should hire Dan Bylsma and Ray Shero, both of the Pittsburgh Penguins, should they get fired from their current jobs. In regards to Shero at least, we’re a bit leery.

Here’s one reason why.

The Draft.

ray-shero-cant-draft

Shero has not been a good drafter in recent years. After selecting Jordan Staal in the first round in 2007, Shero went a few years without a strong pick. His best selection over the next four years was Simon Despres, who has struggled to crack Pittsburgh’s not-particularly-strong defensive unit.

The Pens seems to have finally broken out of that slump with the selection of Olli Maatta in 2012 (and we’ll see what Derrick Pouliot has to offer), but their overall draft efforts are mediocre at best.

The Caps, on the other hand, consistently drafted NHL talent. In John Carlson, Marcus Johansson, Braden Holtby, Cody Eakin, and Dmitry Orlov, McPhee drafted five strong NHL players. The jury still out on Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson, but they’ve been showing a lot of promise, too.

Ray Shero’s Draft Picks

pens-draft-picks

George McPhee’s Draft Picks

caps-draft-picks

Penguins vs Capitals draft picks who made the NHL, 2008-13 (Click to enlarge).

Data via HockeyDB

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  • http://www.thompsonwerk.com/ Robert Thompson

    As told to me by a friend, a part of Shero’s problem in Pitt was not having a very good scouting department. In DC, Shero would have one of the best in the league, no?

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    What exactly has GMGM’s “strong drafting” done for the Caps? A mediocre team that couldn’t make the playoffs?

    This isn’t HFBoards, you don’t magically get a competitive team just because you hit on a few boom or bust picks.

  • Steve

    Thoughts on mike gillis?

  • Rob W.
  • dcv

    GMGM’s drafting hasn’t been that strong, especially outside of the 1st round, which is what makes Shero’s record pretty abysmal. The NHL after the latest CBA is even more about drafting/developing players than it was even 5 years ago. The Chicago model of having a strong core and drafting/developing players to put around them is the one the Caps should be looking at, not paying money for free agents and trading away picks at the deadline for Iginla and Murray.

  • Todd N

    Shero had some decent trades but yeah his drafts aren’t very good. I agree for not wanting him as the next GM for the Caps

  • Somawilt

    I would certainly pin more of the blame on the scouting department. These are the front-line guys. Shero certainly didn’t go to the games to see these players develop. As a GM you rely heavily on your scouting staff to be your eyes. I think Shero would have a far better draft record if he had the Caps scouts. I think it would be a mistake to not consider him for the GM. On the other hand, I wouldn’t touch Bylsma with a 10 ft. pole. I’d rather see Shero and Trotz.

  • Somawilt

    Did you see what he left Vancouver with? Ownership probably had a part in that, but any GM with integrity would’ve quit before being told to steer the ship into an iceberg. I would weep uncontrollably if Gillis got the job.

  • Mike Gaudiello

    I know this is probably going to draw fire, but I’d take Bylsma. I really wanted Peter Laviolette but shit happens, lol.

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    The Caps have some nice pieces but do not have a strong core. The Chicago model is nto applicable when the Caps haven’t even gotten as far as the Blackhawks did in 2009. The Blackhawks spent big on vets that offseason and the Caps have far bigger roster problems than the Blackhawks did back then. By the time the draft picks by the new GM might be ready to contribute, Ovechkin will be on the wrong side of 30.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Are we sure this isn’t just an artifact of the team’s roster depth and/or philosophy with developing players? By these same measures, GMGM looks far more successful than Ken Holland. I’m not sure of anyone who could keep a straight face saying that. The difference is the Wings haven’t had to rush players to the big club (until this season) due to the depth they’ve had through FAs and trades, so the young kids stay in the minors longer than a lot of teams.

  • dcv

    The 2009 Hawks dumped almost their entire supporting cast (Ladd, Brouwer, etc) and kept their core and replaced them with guys on entry-level contracts. And they won the Cup just 4 years later. The Caps may not have the core that the Hawks do and maybe not the same quality of prospects, but if they hire a GM who tries to do it all through free agency with the salary cap where it is now, they are going to be in a world of hurt in 2 or 3 years.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I’d rather have Trotz. He’s had a history of doing more with less, so hopefully he’d be able to do even more with more.

  • Sarah

    This is why I was never wholly on the “fire GMGM” train; barring a few iffy trades, I think he’s much better than he gets credit for. Kinda wish we had kept him and tried another coach combo. I’m cool with Bylsma though.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Not to mention that the Caps numbers are vastly inflated thanks to Carrick and Wilson getting playing time this season when they should’ve been in the minors as well as Eakin getting major ice time with Dallas (yes the Caps drafted him, but then promptly traded him away for a rental, also GMGM). Ditto for Forsberg.

  • http://www.theworkingdeadcartoon.com John L.

    I don’t understand why everyone is all on Barry Trotz nuts? How many times did the Preds make it past the 1st round of the playoffs? twice by my count and then no further than the second round. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing for Byslma, I don’t want him as the coach either. I don’t have a good answer, but there’s got to be somebody better than these two jabronies.

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    The Hawks had to dump off their relatively young supporting cast because of those vets they signed to fill roster holes, which they overpaid to do. What they have done after winning the Cup is irrelevant to the Caps because the Caps still need to get there first. There is nothing great to build around like the Chicago model when the Caps core haven’t even come close to winning the Cup.

    There is also the Kings model where they overpaid to trade for players that filled major roster holes. Had they gone with the Chicago model before 2012 they might still have Brayden Schenn but definitely not a Stanley Cup.

  • Mark F

    I think GMGM had solid drafts, which Shero never did. Selecting Jordan Staal was a no-brainer and he gets no points for that (after Staal: Toews went #3 , Backstrom #4, Kessel #5). Problem with GMGM is that he never could put good things together with trades, and fill out a good defensive corps. The team has been in disarray since just before Boudreau was fired, with no clear LT direction. Shero is very good/great at deadline deals, but those have heavy costs. GM’s cant just build teams with deadline trades and UFA’s, the Cap just doesn’t allow it, and the draft is more important now than ever before. Both GM’s hit the expiration date with their teams, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t do a great job elsewhere.
    Oh and Mike Green was a pretty good pick too.

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    Like who exactly?

  • rotating earth

    agreed. I think most people don’t really understand the role of a GM in regards to drafting.

  • http://www.theworkingdeadcartoon.com John L.

    I wish I had a good answer, I’m just not ready to hand the keys to either of those guys yet.

  • Brandon

    I’m not sure why we would want either Shero OR Bylsma. Shero is an average GM who was blessed with a top 2 pick in back to back drafts, with said picks being players who went on to win Hart trophies. It’s not hard to put a good team on the ice when you have players like that essentially fall into your lap (It’s the reason GMGM is out of a job now too, after drafting Ovi and Backstrom), and it has been clear as of late that Shero hasn’t been able to make the moves to put the Pens over the hump. I see Shero as essentially GMGM all over again, and obviously that didn’t turn out well for us either. Bylsma, I also feel would be a huge mistake. People forget that he also coached the USA team to an underwhelming, non-medal, Olympic result this year, and barely made it out of the first round of the playoffs with one of the most talented teams in the league. Bylsma is similar to Oates in that when his plan starts to break down, he has little answer. He had three games to figure it out against the Rangers, and wasn’t able to do so. Not a fan of the idea of him behind our bench. As an aside, it’s disappointing to see the Caps moving at a snails pace in making hires. Understandably, they want the right people, and no doubt they are waiting to speak with Benning for GM now that the Bruins are out, but the pool of already small candidates is getting smaller and smaller. The Caps were arguably the premiere job available… until this morning. I’m not sure if a top notch coach like Trotz, or the top GM candidates like Benning, Brisebois, and potentially Burke would choose us over Pitt, now. We snoozed, and I really hope we don’t lose. Obviously I’m just a fan, but those are my few cents. Sorry for the long post. Let’s Go Caps.

  • Guest

    First I was like, but then I was like…

  • dcv

    To be clear, I don’t want the Caps to do what the Hawks did in 2009/2010. I want them to build through the draft, to eventually get to where the Hawks are now. The Kings model is to have God anoint you as the Stanley Cup champions (and have Jonathan Quick as your goalie). The Kings also don’t have anyone making over $7M on their roster, which is why they can afford to go out and get free agents.

  • Jimmie
  • Shaun Phillips

    Hopefully the fact that the Caps have already spoken to Trotz will help. Hate to see him go to Pburgh because I really like him as a coach and would hate to have to start hating him.

  • Matt Lauer

    I think I should be GM. That is all.

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    But that requires the assumption that the Caps core will remain competitive until the team can be built into a Cup winner through the draft. If that was actually true then they wouldn’t have progressively gotten worse to the point of missing the playoffs.

    The Kings paid a big price to get Mike Richards out of Philly. Schenn was considered the best prospect in hockey prior to the trade, Simmonds was a solid roster player who ended up scoring 30 goals for the Flyers, and the Kings gave up a 2nd round pick on top of that. They also trade Jack Johnson and a 1st to get Jeff Carter. Plain and simple, they don’t win the Cup without those two players. They might not have even made the playoffs during their Cup season without them.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Trotz also was hamstrung by management in Nashville being cheap and not spending the money to get FAs. He also had the unfortunate luck to be stuck in the same division as the Wings, Blackhawks, and Blues with teams like San Jose, Anaheim, and LA as other potential first round matchups. 5 of the last 7 Cups have been won by one of those 6 teams.

  • Fedor

    Definitely, part of why the difference is THAT big is about depth and philosophy. But it’s not as big a factor as general manager’s drafting abilities. You play the best players you have and Shero didn’t draft the players who turned out to be good enough.

  • http://www.theworkingdeadcartoon.com John L.

    valid point.

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    GMGM’s team built through the draft weren’t good enough either, or else the Caps would have made the playoffs. They played because they Caps couldn’t/wouldn’t get anyone that was good enough.

  • dcv

    Well, hiring Bylsma just got a bit more difficult.

  • Lawrence

    I think that’s a great point, also, the caps have some pretty good depth. We might benefit from some of the trades Shero is willing to make (big time trades for defense, great vets, etc.). I am not sure if he is the best GM candidate for us, but I don’t think it would be that bad looking at his track record.

  • Fedor

    I’d agree if the #s only included this season.

  • Fedor

    I don’t want any of Shero’s trades for vets who were “great” 5 years ago (Murray, Morrow, Jokinen). Morrow trade in particular was a Pens version of Erat trade. Pens were at their best when they had Malkin and Staal on ELCs. All psychotic moves Shero made when his stars were paid fairly brought no result.

  • Fedor

    Yeah, but why didn’t he do anything? Why didn’t he fire them? When it is systematic and nothing gets done you have to question the upper management.

  • http://www.thompsonwerk.com/ Robert Thompson

    Perhaps ownership prevented Shero from terminating people in the scouting department? Ask Mario, ha.

  • http://www.thompsonwerk.com/ Robert Thompson

    I thought Jokinen faired well in Pitt. Plus, Shero did get Dupuis and Hossa.

  • yv

    Shero has been good in trades, while GM in drafts. As in respective statements both teams need new directions, so swapping McPhee and Shero by Caps and Pens would be intriguingly in line with this.
    Relatively less successful drafts by Pens/Shero in the past doesn’t mean much for current Caps, considering that they in win now mode. Caps need smart trades and Shero got GM of the Year for this. Plus draft is collective process by the whole department and, since the Caps one seems remain intact, they will help Shero for better choices.

  • Barrett

    Ray Shero didn’t draft Crosby or Malkin or Fleury. He inherited that team. His first selection was Jordan Staal in 2006.

  • swhirly

    I’m hearing Bylsma was not YET canned. Truth? Rumor on a rumor?

  • Barrett

    Where was all this hate on Ray Shero when the Penguins lost Malkin and
    Crosby for long stretches between 2010-2013 and continued to win?

    During that span Crosby played 99 out of a possible 212 games. Malkin played
    only 149 games. Jordan Staal played 104 of his possible 164 games
    (missing the entire first half of the 2010-11 season and being traded to
    Carolina before the 2012-13 season). Over that time period the Penguins
    had an overall record of 132-62-14. They have reached 100+ points in the
    standings every year Shero has been the GM with the exception of the lockout year and their 2009 Stanley Cup winning year in which they reached 99 points in the standings.

    (The Capitals won only 117 games during that same time period)

    At the 2008 trade deadline he robbed Atlanta to land both Marian Hossa AND Pascal Dupuis and Toronto to land Hal Gill who helped them reach the Stanley Cup finals that year. He also plucked Chris Kunitz from the Ducks at the trade deadline. Kunitz, Dupuis and Gill would all help them win the Stanley Cup in the 2009 playoffs.

    He swung a trades with Dallas to land both James Neal AND Matt Niskanen.

    They lost backup veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun in the 2013 pre-season and Pascal Dupuis for the 2nd half of the 2013-14 season as well as Kris Letang only playing in 37 games.

    You cannot compare what George McPhee did by drafted good talent and what Ray Shero did by trading away draft picks and prospects. Shero acquired the players I listed above in exchange for picks and prospects and reached two Stanley Cup finals, winning one. George McPhee, with his “great drafting of talent” has never managed a team to get past the 2nd round of the playoffs (and no the 1998 season doesn’t count).

    Ray Shero > George McPhee

  • Barrett

    I don’t know, but I’m hearing that is is highly unlikely that the Washington Capitals re-sign Dunstin Penner or Mikhail Grabovski. Boo!

  • johnnymorte

    Keenan.

  • Fedor

    Yeah, but Jokinen isn’t “great”. Dupuis is a product of 71/87, Hossa played in just 32 games for the Pens.

  • http://www.thompsonwerk.com/ Robert Thompson

    Don’t forget Kunitz. I think Shero did a pretty good job getting the right players at the right time.

  • serpent

    That would be so bloody stupid!! Penner was essentially shelved after he was acquired and we all know what Grabo can do. Jeez! Just sign the guys already!

  • Mike Gaudiello

    Penner I can go either way on, Grabovski has proven crucial for the team’s success next year. It would be an absolute shame if we let yet another great 2C slip away.

  • Mike Gaudiello

    Not me. Granted I don’t know the Preds’ entire story, but roughly half of the seasons with him at the helm ended with the team missing the playoffs. We need a coach with a Cup ring.

  • Pat Magee

    Shero’s teams had made it farther in the playoffs than ours, though. He’ll be a better GM than Jay Feaster?

  • Stevarooni

    Why break the Caps model:

    Struggle along without a bona fide GM until the trade deadline, bring in a GM who’s overpaid and underperforming for an organization that’s not making the playoffs, a guy who has experienced success a few years ago managing and may still have something left in the tank.

    Then let him walk over the summer.

  • cjbr89

    woah woah woah, now, I’m cool with y’all and the ad’s and makin money (I love money) but why are your ads trying to sell me ‘Sidney Crosby Jersey’?

  • Barrett

    I’d take Ray Shero over Jay Feaster, but would prefer one of these other assistant GMs around the league (Jim Benning in Boston, Paul Fenton in Nashville, Jason Botterill in Pittsburgh and Ryan Martin in Detroit).

  • Barrett

    Ray Shero wasn’t the GM that selected Fleury, Crosby or Malkin. He inherited those picks, but he doesn’t win a Stanley Cup with just those three guys. He built solid teams around that core of young players. That’s something George McPhee could never do.

  • Barrett

    How do you determine if his drafts are good or not? Based on playing time? The Capitals are playing more draft picks because they cannot hold onto veteran players. Look at all the players Ray Shero acquired to surround Crosby and Malkin with : Hal Gill, Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis, Bill Guerin, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, Douglas Murray, Jussi Jokenin, Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak. The veteran depth on Pittburgh’s roster over the past 4-5 years has dwarfed Washington’s roster.

    I’m sure every Capitals fan would have been glad to see almost any of those additions to their trade deadline roster instead of Matt Cooke, Dustin Penner or Martin Erat. About the only good deadline move GMGM made was grabbing Sergei Fedorov and Cristobal Huet.

  • Barrett

    James Neal and Matt Niskanen?
    Hal Gill? Bill Guerin?? Jarome Iginla?

    The problem isn’t that these are bad players – it’s that Crosby, Malkin, Fleury and Letang account for almost 50% of their cap space.

    On the flip side with the Capitals you have Ovechkin, Backstrom, Holtby and Green accounting for roughly 33% of their cap space – with no Stanley Cup to show for it though.

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

    you forget that we have one key advantage over Pitt. In order to work for the Pens you have to LIVE IN PITTSBURG! Advantage Caps!

  • Jonah

    and thats how you build america’s hockey capital…

  • Fred Merc

    Shero traded Pitts 2013 #1 for a 1/2 year rental of Iginla… That would have been Burakovsky if he was with the Caps. (That trade would have seriously pissed me off.)
    Agree 100% with the article.

  • Fred Merc

    How is that The Caps model? Are you going way back to the 70′s or something?

  • Eric Schulz

    They had to dump their young cast because they screwed up on faxing them their extensions, actually.

  • Eric Schulz

    We definitely have a strong enough forward core. Our defense isn’t as far off as some might think, and Holtby is good enough, IMO. With good coaching, it’ll be easier to evaluate. I think Ovechkin, Backstrom, Grabovski, Kuznetsov, Wilson, Carlson, Alzner, and Holtby will be a solid foundation. Green and Laich actually raise our ceiling if they are healthy; them being injured makes us look like we aren’t a contender anymore (that and Hunter/Oates)… if they can get healthy, I think we’re contending again. We have some solid role players to fill in the gaps: Penner, Brouwer, Fehr, Johansson, Chimera, Ward, Beagle… Latta, Brown, Stoa… Hillen, Brouillette, Strachan, Carrick… and Barber, Burakovsky, Orlov, and Bowey might be part of the next core with Kuznetsov, Wilson, Carlson, Alzner, and Holtby once Ovechkin and maybe Backstrom decline and are more secondary scorers. I think we just need to find the right coach and GM (obviously), strengthen that blueline a tad (one addition is probably enough, another would be gravy)… I think we have enough pieces to make one or two big trades to really push us over the top. We just need a GM that sees what needs to be added (IMO, top-4 blueliner, two-way C in the Kesler/Stoll mode – my vote: add Kesler), and the coach who puts our players in the best position to succeed. We have the personnel to drive possession, with a smart move or two, we can dominate it…

  • Eric Schulz

    We still need to draft well… the idea is to contend now, and in the near future, and in the distant future… always have talent. There are times when you’ll need to mortgage the future in order to make a big addition now, but if you draft well, you can have a stockpile of assets and never have the cupboard be truly empty.
    Drafting well gives you assets to use in a trade that’ll help you add help NOW, when Ovechkin is still in his prime.
    Had GMGM not completely blown it with the Forsberg trade, I would’ve been much more willing to keep him. It was such a dumb trade… I’ll keep it short, and just say it did nothing to help us even in the short term. Had he not done that, then we have THREE ridiculously high-end prospects in Forsberg, Burakovsky, and Barber. We could easily trade one in a big deal for a missing piece (or two), and be a contender NOW, without sacrificing our ability to continue to contend when Ovechkin and Backstrom become 2nd liners. Using Forsberg to not add blueline help (or even a Stoll-type two-way C) really was the last straw, IMO.
    (Although, even without that.. he didn’t see that our blueline was, and is, the weakness… and apparently FAs hate him, so… it was time to move on anyway. I didn’t know that until after he was fired, however.)

  • Fedor

    Third liners won’t work on the first line in DC.

  • Mike Logan

    Ok but GMGM drafted much higher so not really comparing apples to apples.

  • Mike Logan

    Yes and it’s not even close!

  • RESmith

    “Mahoney, on the
    other hand, earned much of his pay with his work with Swedish and
    Russian scouts (and having a GM willing to spend early picks on European
    groomed players). In the span that Shero was in charge in Pittsburgh,
    the Capitals picked just three CHL players in the first round (Carlson,
    Alzner, Wilson), but five Swedes(Backstrom, Johansson, Forsberg,
    Burakovsky, Gustafsson) and two Russians (Kuznetsov, Varlamov). The
    difference in draft philisophies is pretty stark.”

    That is in large part was because Mahoney was burned by the WHL early in his career as the Cap’s Head of Amateur Scouting (Mahoney had originally been a scout covering the Western League and former coach of the Regina Pats): From 1998-2003, his first five years with the Caps, the Caps took 13 out of their 18 picks in the first three rounds from the WHL, 72% of their picks. First rounders from that era included Kris Beech, Brian Sutherby, Boyd Gordon and Eric Fehr. Only Fehr, now later in his career, could be argued as an impact player in the NHL. Other high WHL picks from that era included Jomar Cruz, Nolan Yonkman, Ross Lupaschuk, Matt Pettinger, Jakub Cutta and Nathan Paetsch. I think Pettinger played the most games as NHLer among them (422) and the rest never even cracked the NHL as full time regulars.

    To his credit, though, Mahoney didn’t let his pride as a former WHL scout get in the way and has allowed the Euro scouts a bigger say. Since the Ovi draft year of 2004 the Caps have only drafted 8 players out of 30 picks (26%) in the first three rounds out of the ‘W’ (and only 12 out of the CHL as a whole). And of those WHL picks, they have had greater success: Green, Alzner and Eakin. (I’m leaving Schultz off for now.) And as the poster commented those scouts have delivered. http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/teams/dr00008871.html

    (Also, for all those that were GMGM naysayers, McPhee recognized the Caps spotty draft record going into the 2004 Draft and the unique position they were in drafting a player of Ovi’s talent that he did a major reorganization of how the Caps scouting department operated both at the draft table and overall. Just saying that to back up a point Fedor made up above.)

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    The forward core is not strong enough when you have to add a major piece like Kesler.

    No GM with a brain is ever going to count on Green and Laich being healthy when histories of serious groin injuries don’t just magically disappear.

    Penner is an UFA and never coming back. Brouwer is invisible in the playoffs (and also at the IHWC for Team Canada). Johansson is far too soft for the playoffs. Most Hershey fans don’t even think Stoa is good enough for them, I have no idea why you’d even think he’s a solid role player for the Caps. Hillen, Brouillette, and Strachan are terrible and do not belong on a serious NHL team, period. Carrick, Barber, and Burakovsky are years away from being useful to the Caps and are more or less redundant right now with the players the Caps already have.

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    The Caps’ Stanley Cup cabinet is what’s going to remain empty if they keep worrying about stockpiling the cupboard instead of stockpiling actual useful roster players.

  • Eric Schulz

    We don’t NEED to add Kesler, I think we have the pieces to add him without hurting our depth (much), so I think we SHOULD.
    I’m not counting on Laich to remain healthy… nor Green. When they are in the lineup, we are better off for it. When not, we have depth; puck-movers are Carlson, Green, Orlov. With Green hurt, Carlson, Orlov, Schmidt. We have guys like Latta, Brown, Wellman, and Stoa in the AHL. (I like Stoa as a third or fourth call-up. Injuries happen, it’s nice that we have that kind of depth. I’m not putting him on our 3rd line.) We have many options as far as who replaces Laich if he gets hurt.
    Penner’s never coming back. Yeah, I’m sure he’s way to angry at our not-yet-hired GM and yet-to-be-hired coach that he would refuse a fair deal to remain on a team that is a contender.
    Hillen, Brouillette, and Strachan are terrible. Well, clearly you have cemented yourself as somebody who doesn’t know hockey.
    Carrick is years away from helping the Caps. Not if he’s part of a trade that nets us a big piece or two.
    Barber and Burakovsky are years away from helping the Caps. Yes, that’s what I said.

    Brouwer is invisible in the playoffs; Johansson is too soft for the playoffs. If you’re going to be an idiot, then just say that the Caps can’t win the Cup because we never have before, so we may as well fold, as should every team in the league that isn’t the Bruins, Blackhawks, or Kings. It’s over, guys, narrative is all that matters.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yeah, if the two were mutually exclusive then your comment would make sense.

  • Eric Schulz

    If you think Brouillette being the 8th, 9th, or 10th defender on the team (depending on the development of Wey, and the injury – if to Carlson, Green, or Orlov, then Schmidt is up before the defensive blueliners) prevents the Caps from being contenders, then I just don’t know what to say. The Kings, facing elimination, twice beat the Ducks with Jeff Schultz playing significant minutes.
    Without making the big trade that I want to see (which involved moving out both Brouwer and Johansson, interestingly), the Caps still can roll out:
    Ovechkin – Backstrom – Fehr
    A legit 1st line. Fehr may seem an odd piece, he isn’t a guy who puts up more than 15-20–35, and even that may be a bit of a stretch; that’s weak for a 1st liner. However, we don’t need that other winger to produce points, BackstrOvie provides the scoring, we simply need the other player to drive possession, helping those two to have the puck more, and be on defense less. Fehr does that.
    Kuznetsov – Grabovski – Wilson
    Lots of skill here, and a nice set of complementary skills. Kuz Nasty and Grabovski both are skilled passers and shooters, and Wilson provides some muscle; all three have some speed. Not a lot of experience on the wing, but Kuznetsov isn’t your typical 2nd year player; he’s had a ton of experience in the KHL, likely the 2nd best league in the world, he showed very nice promise in a short stint last year that allowed him to acclimatize to the NHL, and he should probably be better next year. Grabovski was a monster driving possession last year. Probably a very high event line, so it’s important that our 3rd and 4th lines can hold their own. We’ll get this line a lot of time in the regular season, but with a 1 goal lead in a playoff game, with 10 minutes left, we’d like to shelter this line.
    Laich – Latta – Brouwer
    The 3rd line presents maybe the most options. Laich is a borderline 2nd liner when healthy; if he’s healthy this year, he’s a top-end 3rd liner. Brouwer probably is too, as he can be safely penciled in for 20 goals. He could easily swap with Wilson if Wilson isn’t ready for 2nd line duty yet. I think the 2nd line has a higher ceiling with Wilson, and that our depth looks a little better with the more experienced Brouwer on the 3rd, so that’s how I’d start the season, but we don’t need to keep it that way. Latta should be a solid, if not spectacular, fit centering them. We don’t look to this line to score, we just need them to prevent the other team from winning that matchup. I think those three work well together, and cycle and grind, providing what you’d want from a typical 3rd.

    Chimera – Johansson – Ward
    Chimera and Ward are very solid grinders who worked well last year no matter their center. Johansson is overqualified to be a 4th liner (as they all are), and maybe his inconsistency is less of a problem when flanked with those consistent grinders. They cycle and wear the other team down, and when Johansson is on, that line is unfair. When Johansson isn’t, it’s still a line that doesn’t make mistakes or allow the other team too many opportunities (relatively, of course).
    If Latta isn’t ready (I’ll be surprised if he isn’t), then we could put Johansson on 3rd, Beagle on 4th… or just replace Latta with Brown, or a free agent.
    That 12 man forward unit looks like a contender; with reasonable development from Kuznetsov and Wilson, relative good luck with health, and – of course – good coaching, there’s no doubt. We even have higher upside than that: if Laich is back to his old self and Johansson fulfills his promise – maybe not a safe bet, but not unreasonable either; Laich has had a long offseason, and Johansson could rebound with good coaching, and at 24 it’s the year I’d really expect him to put things together – then we challenge for the President’s (looking only at the forwards).
    On defense:
    Alzner – Carlson
    Rock-solid pairing. With good coaching, they rebound to what they used to be, and it’s a legit top pair.
    ? – Green
    Here is our biggest question mark(s), of course. Green is the best offensive defenseman in the league; when healthy, he’s obviously a top pairing guy, so having him on the 2nd pair is a ridiculous luxury. The problem, of course, is the phrase “when healthy.” He also seems to be more of a liability in his own end than he ever has been; impossible to tell how much of that is on the coaching, and how much on him. I’d think most is the coaching, of course, but we still need to provide him with a better partner than he’s had throughout his career. We can’t go out and get him a clear-cut top-4 shutdown type guy in FA, certainly not this year, but there are some guys out there that would complement him much better than those we’ve provided him with. Meszaros, Hannan, Greene, Gilbert… who knows? Have your scouts examine them all closely, and identify the guy you think is the best fit. It’s then a high-end 2nd pair when Green is healthy. Heck, maybe even Erskine is the guy; I thought he was really good a few years ago. If last year’s ineffectiveness was a product of playing hurt (plus, of course, coaching), then it may well be that the answer is in-house. Either way, the FA defender is still something I’d pursue; whoever it is will be cheap enough that, worst case, we bolster the depth.
    Orlov – Hillen
    Orlov is clearly the guy on this pair. When Green is hurt, we can pretty easily move Orlov up, and pull up Schmidt to this pairing. I think that a 2nd pair of Orlov and Erskine, or Gilbert, or Meszaros, or whomever, is probably merely an average 2nd. Given what we usually have, that’s an upgrade. Schmidt is also good enough, IMO, to be a nice puck-mover on the 3rd. The question mark here is Orlov’s partner. It’s not nearly as troubling as question as the 2nd pair, however: we have MANY guys to choose from. The only question is: who grabs it? If Erskine rebounds, then our FA guy fits here very nicely, and we have a 3rd pair that would be an average, or slightly below average, 2nd pair in Orlov and Gilbert/Meszaros/whomever. If Wey develops, maybe he brings his defensive acumen here, and he and Orlov form an OFD – DFD pairing that Caps fans can be excited about for the better part of the next decade. If not… Hillen is an above average talent, although he’s not a paragon of durability, nor is he going to provide the complementary physicality that I’d want from Orlov’s partner. I think he and Schmidt would give us a great 1-2 punch in the AHL (nothing wrong with a good, successful, minor league affiliate), and he gives us some peace of mind if we suffer a rash of injuries. Oleksy was shockingly effective, given how Oates seemed to stunt our defenders; Brouillette looked to me like a solid, low-event player, exactly what I’m looking for from Orlov’s partner; Strachan is big and can move well enough, and he’s got some experience. None of them are overwhelming, by any means, but even if Erskine is useless, and Wey doesn’t develop, we can still go with Orlov and Hillen, and have Oleksy, Brouillette, and Strachan as 3 available call-ups that won’t be lost. That’s not great depth in case of injuries; most teams would be better off than we would be if they lose a defender, but at least we aren’t screwed if we lose 2, or even 3. We’d be hurting, for sure, but we could deal with it… say we lose Green, Hillen, and Oleksy (our 3rd, 6th, and 7th defenders). We still roll out:
    Alzner – Carlson
    Orlov – Gilbert/Meszaros/whoever
    Schmidt – Brouillette/Strachan
    That’s thin, sure, but we’ve gotten away with worse, honestly. With good coaching, we could survive that as well as anybody could survive losing those three defenders.
    The high-end of our defense here isn’t a contender, but it’s easily a playoff team defense… certainly a fringe contender if things break right (Green’s healthy, we sign the right guy to pair him with, Orlov and Wey both develop reasonably well). Even without a best case scenario, the defense is worthy of a 6th or 7th seed as long as we don’t get killed with a lot of long-term injuries (and no team in the league could overcome that). In a reasonable case scenario, that puts this team, IMO, somewhere between a 3rd and 6th seed.
    In goal, Holtby is pretty clearly a top-tier goalie. He’s probably in the top ten, with potential for more than that as he develops (and is, hopefully, well-coached, unlike the last two years). I’m not even interested in best case scenario here; as long as he’s healthy, we have a goalie that can get us into the playoffs and, once there, take over. The problem here is after him. Grubauer flashed the talent to play in the NHL, but I wouldn’t want to rely on him. I really hope we add a cheap veteran guy (Stalock, Greiss, Clemmenson, MacDonald, Montoya, there are options). That gives us a nice backup, and we still have some talent to call up in case of injury. If Holtby is out long term, we’re screwed… same as every other team in the league would be if their starter is out long-term.
    Without making any blockbuster trade, I think we have probably a 4th or 5th seeded team, with enough high-end talent in Ovechkin, Backstrom, Grabovski, and Green, plus in Holtby a goalie that has a history of dominating in the posteason, that we could make some noise. But why settle for that if you can find a fit with a rebuilding team that sends them a ton of young, talented players (and a few veteran guys) that are more or less redundant here, in exchange for two really high-end players that they, as a rebuilding team, may find more useful in trade but that we, as a contender, could leverage in roles that essentially remove all of our worst-case scenarios?

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    It makes sense because the Caps have been proving it to be the case.

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    You are making the same exact mistake that GMGM liked to make on a regular basis. You are making the incorrect assumption that prospects are automatically going to take a step forward and take on bigger roles without having actually proven or shown enough signs of actually doing so. Your second line is a classic GMGM folly.

    Kuznetsov was absolutely afraid of going into battle along the boards when he showed up, that’s going to get exposed in playoff type games. Wilson has literally shown nothing that would suggest he’s anything other than a 4th-liner at this point. Grabovski is a passable 2C but not one that’s going to make the Caps a contender without other major additions. Asking him to cover two players like that is a complete waste of his skill set.

    Laich and Brouwer together were an absolute black hole of possession so I am not sure why you would even suggest that. Using Latta as the shutdown center is just asking for trouble.

    Then you have Chimera and Ward on the 4th line, the two players that have actually been able to drive possession on a consistent basis, and stick him with a “center” that still hasn’t figured out how to win a faceoff in 4 years.

    The UFA market for defensemen simply isn’t great. Hannan and Greene are done, especially if you have watched them in the playoffs this year. They were constantly getting walked around whenever they were out there. The reason Sutter is playing Schultz so much is because he’s actually more mobile than Greene. Erskine was never good enough to be anything other than a 6/7 for the 300+ games in his career except for that 20-game run last year that fooled GMGM into paying him about twice his actual market value. Unless he’s Benjamin Button he’s not going to get better already at his age. Hillen is not an above average talent, unless you are talking about the AHL. In the NHL, he’s a below average bottom pairing defenseman and an Islanders reject that gets exposed by any NHL team with a pulse.

    Holtby had one good postseason when Hunter’s system was designed specifically to protect him as much as possible. Outside of that run he hasn’t done anything remotely suggesting that he would dominate anything.

    The keeping the cupboard full line was constantly used during the GMGM-era as an excuse not to bring in the needed roster pieces. Guess what, it didn’t work because those teams never actually contended past the second round and they weren’t even able to maintain that status quo.

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    Wellman and Stoa are not depth, they are tweeners that almost every NHL team have some of in their minor league system. Depth is actual players that can come in and fill a role for an extended period of time without getting exposed.

    Penner wasn’t even happy to be traded to DC in the first place. Sure, he wanted to remain on a contender, but that team was the Ducks, not the Caps. Nevermind that it’s debatable whether the Caps are even a contender.

    Troy Brouwer has scored a grand total of 4 ES points in 21 playoff games with the Caps. That is terrible for the top 6 icetime he has consistently gotten. Johansson has been a liability ever since the Tampa series. His refusal to shoot or take a hit to make a play do not belong in playoff hockey. They have proven not to be dependable for secondary scoring in the playoffs, which was a constant problem for the Caps in the GMGM era. Contending teams all have some combination of the following: Elite goaltending, strong defensive depth, depth down the middle, and elite two-way players on the wing. The Caps have none of that, that’s why they can’t win the Cup, and people overrating players on the internet won’t change that. Forget Stanley Cups, Hershey hasn’t even been a serious Calder Cup contender in a few years now.

  • Shero-Trotz 2014

    The story looks completely different too if you include the NHL games that have been played by the prospects and picks Shero have dealt away. Of course GMGM got more games out of his draft picks when he had more of them to work with.

    What you conveniently neglected to mentioned is that out of the 8 picks the Caps had in 2008, as many have actually quit professional hockey already either temporarily or permanently (AnGus, Mestery, Burke) as have made the NHL (Carlson, Holtby, and if you can even count SDR or whatever games they got from DJ King). That’s NOT good drafting when 2 out of your first 3 picks didn’t even have the desire to pursue professional hockey seriously.

    If you look at the picks after 2008, most of them have had significant developmental issues that have contributed to this Caps team missing the playoffs.

  • Pat Magee

    Also note that Shero had less picks… He traded them away to gear up for playoff runs.

  • Eric Schulz

    One example isn’t proof.

  • Eric Schulz

    -I never said using it as an excuse made sense. I also never said anything about it being “full.” I just think it makes sense to make smart trades. Don’t make trades that depletes our future if it doesn’t help us now (ex: Forsberg for Erat). Don’t make trades that is a lateral move in terms of talent if it doesn’t address a weakness (Pothier for Corvo… not sure that was a straight-up trade, but that deadline we moved Pothier out and Corvo in). It’s fine to trade prospects for established players; just make sure it’s the right player. The whole thing about not depleting your farm system… it’s not even possible to do that unless you make a bunch of horrible trades. I’m against horrible trades, therefore I’m against stripping the farm.
    -Holtby had two great postseason runs actually… since he’s only had two chances so far, I like his batting average. Also, Hunter was a shitty coach, so it’s not really hard to imagine a good coach getting even more out of Holtby. Largely, I’d think the more important factor is a good GM acquiring a legit top-4 defender, and a 3rd C would be great too. Holtby’s numbers were noticeably down the 2nd postseason, but they were still very good… and that’s before taking into account game 7, which was a disaster on every level. Throw that out, and through the remaining 20 postseason games, he’s been elite. Also, Holtby faced less shots per minute with Oates (0.4762) than with Hunter (0.5005), so let’s stop giving Hunter any credit; it’s unwarranted.
    -The UFA market isn’t great. Yes, again… a point I made. I don’t know why you feel the need to repeat what I’ve said.
    -Ward’s CF% last year: 47.2%, 14th on the team (behind Latta, who was 9th best at 48.5% btw). Chimera was 18th, at 46.5% Granted, nobody really drove play last year with Oates sucking the life out of the team… but if you trust that those guys rebound, despite being older players who are more likely to regress, than I don’t know why you expect younger, better players to not bounce back with a new coach.
    -I’m suggesting Laich and Brouwer because that line would be very good if Laich is healthy. If he’s not, then of course I don’t PLAY Laich, he gets replaced… Stamkos was a black hole last year too, but I imagine the Lightning plan on using him next year.
    We had FOUR players over 50% last year (Green, Grabovski, Orlov, Schmidt); EVERYBODY was a black hole in terms of possession for the Caps last year. New coach + healthy Laich + consistent Brouwer = good 3rd line.
    -”Grabovski is a passable 2C.” He led all Caps forwards, and was 2nd on the team, with a 51.0% CF%. With a non-Oates coach, that gets pro-rated to something like 65%. He may not put up eye-popping numbers for a 2C, but he will allow Kuznetsov and Wilson to use their skills in the offensive zone as he drives possession. Also, as I said, we shelter that line with regards to zone starts until they earn more trust.
    -As far as counting on Kuznetsov to improve… well, yeah, no shit. He’s probably gonna put up more than 9 points next year. I expect him to improve on that. Even if he doesn’t improve after some exposure to the NHL and the offseason (which, he will, because that’s how age and development works), if you give him Grabovski’s ice time (15:45 per game rather than 13:28), he pro-rates to 51 points next year in 82 games. We don’t need him to improve to be a legit 2nd liner. Same with Grabovski. As far as Wilson… I’ll come back to him.

  • Eric Schulz

    People not knowing how to build a team around talented players on the internet doesn’t make the Caps a non-contender either.

  • Eric Schulz

    Penner wanted to remain with the Ducks. Yeah, so I’m sure he’ll be resigning there after they traded him away.
    It’s arguable the Caps are a contender. Um:
    Ovechkin – Backstrom – Penner
    Kuznetsov – Grabovski – Wilson
    Laich – Kesler – Fehr
    Chimera – Latta – Ward
    Alzner – Carlson
    Edler – Green
    Orlov – Meszaros/Gilbert/whoever
    Holtby
    Stalock
    That’s undeniably a contender
    (In the scenario in which I keep Penner, it’s to allow me to use Brouwer to make that trade happen. So, yes, if we acquire Kesler and Edler, and resign Grabovski, I have no doubts that Penner realizes that we are a contender. Also, with a new GM, it’s reasonable to assume FAs don’t look askance at signing in Washington anymore.)

  • Eric Schulz

    Wilson’s 3rd goal:
    http://video.capitals.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=-3
    3/14/2014. Clearly the shot of a 4th liner; he LITERALLY hasn’t shown anything to make us think he’s anything more than a 4th liner, for sure. OR… he’s shown some nice skill, speed, and physicality that we could easily envision on a line with Kuznetsov and Grabovski. That pass was from Kuznetsov, btw… they played together quite a bit, and I’d like to keep them together if at all possible. If he doesn’t hold onto his spot, we can bump him down:
    Kuznetsov – Grabovski – Fehr
    Laich – Kesler – Wilson
    would do very little to change my mind on how I feel about the Caps if we make the trade.
    Kuznetsov – Grabovski – Brouwer
    Laich – Latta – Wilson
    In the non-trade scenario, obviously we need some good things to happen in order to be contenders. Kuznetsov, Wilson, and Latta developing at a reasonable rate does it; Laich and Green rebounding does it too. If we don’t have Wilson developing, we could still hit on 3 of the other 4 factors and be okay… but it hurts.
    A better coach probably has a huge impact… but I don’t want to overstate it. I’m gonna try to see how it goes before I can figure out where the team is.
    (With the trade, obviously contenders… just as obviously, there’s no way in hell that trade happens – even though I believe it would benefit both teams.
    But without it… I think we have the talent to be fringe-contenders… the offseason will be big, of course. If we wrap up Grabovski and address a few holes with smart pickups – a guy like Gilbert and/or Weaver, a 3rd/4th two-way centerman who wins faceoffs, and backup goalies – then that doesn’t push us over the top, but we are definitely in that 2nd tier behind the teams that are always contenders. If we mess things up, we could easily be screwed.. at this point, it’s hard to see anything we can do to recover from losing Grabovski. MAYBE Kuznetsov can be a 2nd C… but we are way too thin beyond that. I mean, in a perfect world, maybe Laich rebounds to prime-Laich, and is our 3rd C… and we have a foundation there, but even then it’s hard to think we are better than a solid playoff team.)

  • lol oh my..

    lol kesler on the 3rd line? I’m sure he’d LOVE those minutes as opposed to top-6.. let alone take a 3rd liners contract

  • Eric Schulz

    Who cares? First of all, if he’s under contract, what difference does it make if he’d rather have 2nd line minutes? You think 4th liners are ecstatic with their minutes? Everybody wants to be a 1st liner, not everybody is.
    Also, as I’ve said: we have a 1st line, and we have a 4th. Those two middle lines are: scoring line, and shut-down line. The minutes breakdown will vary depending on game situation. Sometimes (when leading, especially late, especially by 2+ goals) that Laich – Kesler – Fehr line will be the 2nd, other times (trailing, especially by 2+), that Kuznetsov – Grabovski – Wilson line will be the 2nd. Kesler has been banged up the last few seasons; you think he doesn’t want to be kept fresh for a playoff run? You think he has a problem with being part of a team that is ridiculously deep? I don’t.
    He’s also being paid $5 million per year. We have Penner getting about $2.5 million, Fehr getting under $2 million, Kuznetsov and Wilson getting less than $1 million, Chimera’s under $2, Latta is under $1 I believe… Alzner and Carlson are really, really cheap; most top-2 defenders cost what those two cost combined. Holtby is ridiculously inexpensive for a #1. We can afford to pay Kesler that to fill that shut-down line role.