For the last few days CapsNation has been discussing just how active the team should (or shouldn't be) in the build up to next Wednesday's trade deadline, weighing factors like team chemistry, the value of draft picks, the promise of current Capitals prospects, and the danger of letting another top Eastern Conference team land one of the big names out there.
But since it's now Friday afternoon, we thought we would have a little fun by asking a couple hypothetical questions: If you could have any player from any team other than the Capitals added to Washington's roster, who would it be? And does your answer change if we're talking about this season alone versus for the indefinite future? We implore you to throw out any logic or reservations you might have about contracts or what it would actually take acquire a guy. This is purely an exercise in fantasy.
J.P.: For me, the choice is a pretty easy one - Henrik Lundqvist. In three-plus seasons in the League, he's 130-78-34/2.32./.916 on a team that doesn't score goals. Since the lockout, King Henrik (can the Caps have two kings?) has played the fourth-most games (third-most minutes), and won't turn 27 until next week, so he's a workhorse hitting his prime with plenty of years ahead. Heck, he'd also fill the handsome goalie quota if he forced Jose Theodore out and would instantly turn the Caps' stable of young "goalie(s) of the future" into valuable trading assets.
All of this isn't to say that I don't believe in Jose Theodore. But if there's one guy out there who would turn "contender" into "dynasty," it's Lundqvist.
DMG: Although I haven't talked about much him in the posts themselves, Japers' Rink readers who follow the site's comments may have noticed that I'm a big fan of Flyers center Mike Richards, and he's my choice for the guy I'd like to see on the Capitals with a snap of my fingers. Let me make one thing clear: I don't think Richards is the best or most skilled non-Capital in the NHL, but I do think he is the best fit for the Capitals. For starters, Richards is a center, the Capitals biggest position of need, arguably this season and inarguably down the road. Richards is more than capable of pulling his weight offensively (136 points in his last 119 games) but he also posses a number of characteristics lacking in the Capitals top six forwards like grit, physicality and defensive skill: Richard's leads the Flyers in hits and takeaways, has more blocked shots than any of Philadelphia's other forwards, and already has seven shorthanded goals this season. To top it off, Richards is, by all accounts, performing well as the Flyer's captain despite that fact that he's only twenty-four. In short, Richards is exactly the type of player the Capitals need at the one position they're hurting for depth.
As much as I like Richards, my answer has changes if we're talking about the remainder of this season alone because I think the Capitals need more help on defense than they do down the middle heading into the 2009 playoffs. For that reason, I'd go with Nicklas Lidstrom for the remainder of this season. I admit I was quite tempted to go with Chris Pronger in this slot because he provides many of the same attributes as Richards - physicality and leadership being the two biggest - that the Capitals don't seem to have enough of. But as much as I think Pronger would help the Capitals, it came down to this: I think the Capitals with Nicklas Lidstrom would have a better chance at the Stanley Cup than the Capitals with Chris Pronger.
So what do you think? Is J.P. right that an elite goaltender would push the Capitals to Cup? Is DMG's infatuation with Mike Richards reasonable? Or are we both way off base because the best player for the Capitals is elsewhere? Who've you got?