As of today, January 4, we are two months from the NHL trade deadline. While some might call it a goalie controversy, the Caps have a situation most teams can only dream of. We have one starting goalie who is finding his rhythm, one backup goalie who is over-performing and a top minor league prospect with the potential to be a great pro.
In a situation like this, the question of whether to trade one of the goalies has to come up. There is certainly an argument to keep all three, but the Caps could make quite the playoff run this year and trading one of three goalies for a forward or defenseman with playoff experience should at least be considered.
Pro: He hasn't been as consistent inside the Caps organization, but he does bring experience and talent that other teams quite likely want. Trading him would get good value and free up cash for other players.
Con: Nobody knows whether Johnson can go the distance as the full time #1 goalie through the rest of the season and playoffs.
Pro: This is a trade for the "buy low, sell high" mentality. Johnson is having a far better season than anyone expected. Teams that need goaltending right now could be buyers and we'll never get a better value for Johnson than now.
Con: Theo has been inconsistent and having Johnson there has been a huge benefit for the Caps so far this season. He really is a great second goalie for the Caps system.
Pro: He's got a lot of future potential, but the Caps have the opportunity to win the Cup this year and Varlamov is not likely to play a significant role. Trading him could probably bring a player with real playoff experience to improve the Caps chances today. It also won't mess up the two goalie system the Caps are running that seems to be working, for all its messiness.
Con: Neither Theo or Johnson will be here in three years. Varlamov is potentially the goalie of the team for the next decade. Do we want to be kicking ourselves in five years when this guy leads another team to the Cup and we're still struggling with finding the right #1 goalie?
Keep all three:
Pro: Why mess with what's working? We have a great goaltending situation right now and a prospect for the future..
Con: None, other than we're holding three goalies in a league where we might get good value for trading one.
My thoughts: I think it might be worth the Caps floating either Theodore or Johnson to see what they can get. Thinking about the benefits Federov gave the team last year, I'd like to see another veteran with playoff experience out there this year. Varlamov can be the backup to whichever goaltender is kept. If nobody offers a decent player, keep it the way it is. I have nothing against keeping these three guys (we shouldn't trade for the sake of trading), but I do think the Caps should be out there looking for a deal if there is one to be made.
For the past four+ years, I've been writing about Latin America and foreign policy over at my blog. This is my first attempt to write about sports.