Saturday, the Washington Capitals made two significant moves, both with an eye towards the Stanley Cup playoffs. Hunky piece of man meat (and longest tenured DC athlete) Brooks Laich was put on waivers, a transaction designed to give general manager Brian MacLelllan roster and cap flexibility ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. The Capitals also announced that defenseman John Carlson had undergone a procedure on a nagging injury and will be lost for three to four weeks. As of this posting on Saturday night, Carlson is on injured reserve, but if he’s placed on the long-term IR, it would take his salary cap hit of nearly $4 million off the books (according to the Washington Post).
Saturday night, Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Caps have entered the D market due to Carlson’s injury. He elaborated during his Saturday Headlines feature on Hockey Night In Canada.
Photo: Claus Anderson
The NHL trade deadline is coming up on February 29. The Caps have a real chance to win the Stanley Cup this season, so you can bet that Brian MacLellan, though he doesn’t need to make a deal, will certainly try to improve the team if he finds a good deal.
While memories of the Filip Forsberg trade may fill some fans with Sartrean nausea, it must be noted that the Caps are in the midst of a two-year Cup window. The focus has to be on players who can help the team right now. Everything in 2015-16 has been coming up Caps so far, but nothing about future seasons is assured. If MacLellan can improve this club, one that has a very real shot at being the last team standing in June, he needs to strike now.
Even though the NHL trade deadline is still five days away, a flurry of deals have already been made. The Devils dumped Jaromir Jagr to the Panthers; the Hurricanes traded Jiri Tlusty to the Jets and Andrej Sekera to the Kings; the Penguins acquired Daniel Winnik from the Leafs; and the Blue Jackets took David Clarkson from the Leafs for some ungodly reason.
The already small group of rentals and useful players has gotten even smaller.
“You need two to dance and we’re going to the dance and there’s 30 guys and there’s only about eight girls at the dance,” Barry Trotz said to The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt Thursday, essentially calling the 2015 trade deadline a sausage fest. “That’s what it is. There’s only going to be like eight or nine guys dancing.”
Early Thursday, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that Brian MacLellan has been burning the phone lines pursuing another top-nine forward.
Round two, anyone?
It’s fun to play armchair General Manager. It’s also guesswork. No transaction exists in a vacuum. From the outside, a single signing or trade might make sense, but we aren’t privy to a GM’s long-term vision and how that vision informs player evaluation, we’re all operating in the dark when it comes to what may or may not be a realistic trade.
But, like I said, it’s fun!
Let’s talk about a few players around the league and whether or not we think the Caps should target them as the March 2 trade deadline approaches.
Photo: Chris Gordon
We’re 31 days out from the NHL trade deadline on Monday, March 2, 2015, which is also Method Man’s birthday.
This Washington team is pretty good, and they’re likely to secure a playoff spot, but they could always be better. Their defense corps is solid for the first time in decades, but they’re one injury away from disaster. And the high price tag on that defense has left the forward lines a bit shallow.
With just $2.5 million of cap space (according to NHL numbers), the Capitals don’t have a lot of room with which to get better. That might cause Brian MacLellan, heading into his first trade deadline as general manager, to make some deals. With seven Capitals heading into unrestricted free agency this summer and another eight looking to negotiate new deals as restricted free agents, there’s a lot of potential moves that could be made.
With all that in mind, I’ve asked Ian and Pat to join me in playing thumbs-up/thumbs-down on every Caps free agent.
I was torn on whether or not we should do an open thread today. The Caps made some hugealicious moves yesterday, getting Dustin Penner for a fourth-round pick and sucking the Martin Erat out of the wound for assorted odds and ends.
But as of Wednesday morning, the Caps have $1.8M in salary cap space. They could still make moves. Plus, this open thread gives us all a chance to marvel at whatever dumb thing Holmgren does next and the continuing mass delusion that Ray Shero is improving his hockey team.
Updates below the jump and chaos in the comments. Let’s do it!
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
On Monday, there was a great deal of confusion about why the Capitals didn’t make any roster moves — after both owner and general manager expressed a desire to buy, many were left wondering why they never did. Luckily, we got an exclusive look at General Manager George McPhee’s Facebook Timeline, and we think it may shed some light on the mysterious events of February 27, the Tradeless Deadline.
Update: Congratulations to Alan Campbell who correctly guessed “No trades.” Thanks to everyone who participated. That was fun, minus the whole nobody getting traded to our team part.
Original Post: With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, we wanted to once again try to put a little fun into the most stressful day of the hockey year. Here’s the deal. You guess the time (without going over) on when the Caps make their first trade of the day on our Facebook Fan Page (i.e. 11:22 AM) and if you are the first person to get the time right or are the closest without going over, you win this signed Mike Knuble “Be A Player” Rookie Card, a game-used Mike Green jersey card, and a game-used Alex Semin jersey card (pictured to the right).
You have until either 10 AM EST to submit your picks, or when GMGM makes his first move, whichever comes first.
Fine print: You must like our Facebook Fan Page and follow us on Twitter (@RussianMachine) to win. There will be only one – I repeat – one winner. If you pick the same time as someone else, the person who guessed the time earlier will win. You may pick “none” (as in “no trades”), but you must be the first person to guess it to win. Also, keep in mind that the trade deadline is Monday at 3pm, and many trades will be reported after that time as they come in. Finally, we will use the first media member to tweet the deal as the official trade announcement time.
Backstrom in pain after taking an elbow from Rene Bourque. (Photo credit: AP)
We don’t need to tell you again. Every person in the DC area can probably tell you that the Caps need centers right now. In fact, with the new revelation that Nicklas Backstrom might be out for longer than we thought, the situation just got a little more dire – Ted Leonsis has stated that the Caps will be looking to make additions at the deadline, and there are some very specific pieces they’ll be looking for.
“I liked the team we had put together this summer. Of course we’ve only had that team on ice for eight games. We’re 8-0 in those games.” George McPhee told the Washington Post’s John Feinstein. “I still think if we get our guys back and if we can add something here in the next couple of weeks we’re good enough to win the Stanley Cup. Then again, a lot of teams are looking to add something right now, too.”
There certainly are, and it’s a thin market this year, but it certainly looks as if the Caps plan to be buyers, not sellers. With that in mind, here’s a shopping list of possible additions the Caps could make at the trade deadline, based on practical likeliness, scurrilous rumors, an idea of which teams may be looking to sell at the deadline, and other arbitrary factors.
Update: Let’s announce the winners! (This gets complicated. Bare with us.)
At 11:44am on Twitter, Caps’ senior writer Mike Vogel reported that the Capitals made their first trade of the day at 11:15 am, trading prospect Jake Hauswirth and their 2011 third round draft pick in exchange for puck-moving defenseman Dennis Wideman of the Florida Panthers. Since Vogs is an official member of the Capitals and the @washcaps twitter handle did not announce the trade, we’re going to go with the times Vogel tweeted AND the official time of the deal. Therefore we have two winners to announce.
The first winner for the 11:15 time is Nichole U., who may or may not have her own Monte Carlo Machine. She guessed that GMGM’s first trade would come at 11:12 am. Only three minutes off! Fortunately — or unfortunately depending on how you look at it — she is the significant other of RMNB blogger Neil Greenberg. Therefore, she is disqualified from winning. The next closest time was long-time reader of the blog, Amanda H., who guessed 11:08 am. So Amanda, please email your address to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can send you your puck.
The second winner – for when Vogel tweeted and announced the trade – is Betsy P., who guessed 11:43 am, only a minute off of his time. Betsy, please email us your address as well and you’ll get a signed puck too.
Thanks to everyone else who participated! That was fun. Let’s do it again next year.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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