And just like that, the team's salary cap troubles have been alleviated. In fact, there's suddenly plenty of room to take someone else on.
So let's go shopping. First step is to find out which stores are open. Looking at the standings, Carolina's the only team that's completely out of it (and I doubt they'd deal with the Caps), but Anaheim, St. Louis, Minnesota, Columbus and Edmonton all have to understand that the odds aren't good for them, especially given the identities of the teams ahead of them.
So who out there might be available and might help the Caps? Let me start by throwing out a few names...
The Legend: Scott Niedermayer
($6,750,000 cap hit, UFA after this year)
He's got Stanly Cup Rings. He's got a Norris. What more could the Caps possibly want? I don't know if he's actually available, and I don't know if he's be willing to move east, but he could be just what the doctor ordered. Can you imagine the Niedermayer-Alzner pairing?
The Dale Hunter: Owen Nolan
($2,750,000 cap hit, UFA after this year)
Nolan strikes me as the perfect match for this team. With Brendan Shanahan's retirement, there aren't many sure HOF greybeard forwards still out there and playing well. Nolan may or may not be a HOFer, but he may be the next best thing. He was one of Ovechkin's heroes, and a man Ovi modeled his game after. Who else in the league has the stature to tell Ovechkin to shorten his damned shifts? Who else has played longer and more effectively without winning a Cup?
Heart and Guts: Saku Koivu
($3,250,000 cap hit, UFA after this year)
If you thought Ray Bourque finally getting to lift the Cup with Colorado was memorable, imagine Saku finally getting his name on the Cup after all he's been through?
The Enforcer: Derek Boogaard
($875,000 cap hit, UFA after this season)
Simply put, one of the most feared punchers in hockey.
The Defensive Stalwarts:
($3,625,000 cap hit through '11/'12)
A better physical defensemen than Brendan Witt ever was.
($4,850,000 cap hit, UFA after this year)
Smooth and skillful. Underrated around the league
($2,000,000 cap hit through '10/'11)
If you believe Alan Ryder's numbers, he's one of the most underpaid players in hockey.
So who would you most like to see in a Caps uniform?