Friday Roundup/Gamenight: Devils @ Caps

[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview - Official Game Day Thread]

Not surprisingly, all the talk in the local papers is about yesterday's trades. The WaPo's coverage is here, the WTimes' here. For more coverage, let's see what they (you know... "they") are saying about the Caps' deals (click on the headers to see yesterday's Rink analysis of the moves):

Brendan Witt to Nashville for Kris Beech and a first round pick:
  • "Dutchy correctly points out: 'It certainly is a sellers market'" in response to details of the trade. TSN.ca
  • "George McPhee has been sitting on this card all season long and took it down to the last five minutes to get this done with Nashville. Witt's been packed and ready to go for quite some time." - Bob McKenzie, TSN.ca
  • "Nashville has made a big-time statement. That is, we're going to trade a first round pick and Kris Beech to get a guy like Brendan Witt. He makes their team better right now and gives them a chance to play against the big boys in the Western Conference. This is a very bold stroke by David Poile and the entire Nashville Predators organization." - Pierre McGuire, TSN.ca
  • "The Predators picked up the defenseman they wanted in acquiring Brendan Witt from Washington yesterday, but he didn't come cheap." - Nashville Tennessean
  • "After whining for a season about how much he wanted to be traded, Brendan Witt finally got his wish. He moves to Nashville for Kris Beech and the Predators’ first rounder this June. Assuming that Witt suddenly becomes the happiest defenseman in Nashville, the Predators now become a team with a shot at making the second playoff round. To Brendan’s credit, his energy never flagged as a Capital despite his misgivings about remaining on a non-playoff team. The Caps, meanwhile, rid themselves of a malcontent and add a solid forward in Beech... George McPhee did well for Washington." - Stan Fischler
  • "I like Brendan Witt, although not nearly as much as I used to. He was once a pretty damn fine defensive bruiser, although he relied heavily on the skill of Calle Johansson to cover for his forays into Bodycheckland. Witt was grumpy and wanted a trade, and he got it. It's too bad Witt is not nearly as good as he thinks he is, or as good as he once was, because Nashville paid an awfully high price for a rather average-at-best defenseman who takes quite a few bad penalties.... I could see the justification for the Oilers giving a 1st round pick up for Dwayne Roloson. The Oilers wouldn't have a chance in hell with the goaltending they had, and they gambled to fill a glaring hole. The Predators aren't going to get the same boost the Oilers expect to get, so adding Witt for that price was just too expensive." - Jes Golbez
  • "As with Sean O'Donnell, we've never quite understood the fascination with Brendan Witt, especially in the new NHL. Nonetheless, the Predators bolstered a deep defensive corps with the addition of the veteran blue liner who's been champing at the bit to get out of Washington since before the season started. Predators GM David Poile paid a heavy price -- some would say too heavy. There must be something about the late-blooming Beech that Washington GM George McPhee likes as he returned him to the Caps' fold after making him the seventh overall pick in 1999." - Scott Burnside, ESPN.com
I agree with Golbez and Burnside. To me, Witt is like Chris Simon was in that the more you saw him play, the less you liked his game (especially in the "New NHL"). For some reason, Witt has a reputation as a great defensive defenseman (much the way that Simon briefly had a reputation as a great power forward), but the fact of the matter is he's a penalty kill waiting to happen. Witt has 141 PIMs this year, the fifth-highest total in the League, and is second in minor penalties with 48. That's an awful lot of times he's left his team shorthanded.

As for Beech, the guy has 112 points in 116 AHL games over the last season. Who knows - perhaps he's a late bloomer and will finally justify being taken seventh overall in 1999. Stranger things have happened.

Jeff Friesen to Anaheim for a second round pick:
I agree with myself. Good deal for the Caps.

Oh yeah, there's a game tonight, as Ken Klee and the New Jersey Devils invade the Verizon Center.

Thread of the Day: Poll: The Witt Trade (see what Caps fans think of the day's big trade - at last check, 159 out of 191 voters - or 83% - think the trade was either "great" or "good," and only 10 - .05% - think it was either "bad" or "horrible.")

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Derek Roy (3 goals, assist, +5,)
  • Ross: Derek Roy, Brad Richards, Nicklas Lidstrom (4 points each)
  • Norris: Nicklas Lidstrom (Goal, 3 assists, +1, 4 blocked shots, 1 hit)
  • Vezina: Miikka Kiprusoff (39-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Derek Roy (3 goals)
  • Calder: Petr Budaj (Win, 26 saves on 27 shots against)
  • Aiken, Pt. I: John Grahame (5 goals against on 16 shots in 40 minutes before being pulled for...)
  • Aiken, Pt. II: Sean Burke (Loss, 2 goals against on 6 shots in 19:12)
  • Aiken, Pt. III: Tampa Bay Lightning (Sat on their hands at the trade deadline despite having the two forementioned stiffs as their only goaltending options)


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