On the eve of the madness that was (and continues to be) NHL free agency 2009, we asked you what the Caps' greatest roster need was. Forty-seven percent of you answered "second-line center."
That need still exists as much as it did three days ago, and Caps bench boss Bruce Boudreau seemed to acknowledge as much this afternoon:
I asked Boudreau whether he felt Brooks Laich could fill the role of second-line center. To my surprise, he sidestepped the issue.
"I think we have a good team, even if there are no more moves," Boudreau said. "I don't know if Brooks would be the second-line center, but we've got July and August before we have to finalize it. I'm not worried about it."
So if not Brooks, then who?
"I don't know yet," he said. "I can move people around a lot. But we've got two months to fill that position. If we find somebody [outside of the Caps] who is the right fit, great. If not, we'll go with what we have."
Sounds to me Boudreau is still hopeful that GM George McPhee will find a way to add another center, perhaps through a trade. -Insider
Barring a trade (or walking away from arbitration decisions), the Caps don't have much room left under the salary ceiling, so the free agent route is likely a non-starter here. But, for purely informational purposes, here (per the NYT's SlapShot blog) are the top nine uncommitted free agent centers still available, with their ages, 2008-09 teams, and 2008-09 salaries:
Saku Koivu, 34, Mtl, $4.75m
Mike Comrie, 28, Ott, $4m
Robert Lang, 38, Mtl, $4m
Brendan Morrison, 33, Dal, $2.75m
Todd Marchant, 35, Ana, $2.66m
Mike Sillinger, 38, NYI, $2.3m
Jason Williams, 28, Clm, $2.2m
- Rob Niedermayer, 34, Ana, $2m
- Derek Armstrong, 36, LA $1.6m
One interesting name on that list is Morrison's. Mo (can we call him that?) is coming off the worst season of his NHL career and is (and plays) small, but he's going to be cheap, is finally healthy again, and was a teammate of Mike Knuble's for two years at Michigan and then again during the lockout.
Hey, I said "interesting," not "desirable."
Time to get tradin', GMGM.