FanPost

Who (if anyone) should the Caps trade on defense?

Schultz for Norris!

Okay, just kidding there :) With Jurcina's arbitration award in, here's what the existing cap structure looks like:

AUTO-GENERATED CAPGEEK.COM LINES
FORWARDS

Alexander Ovechkin ($9.538m) / Michael Nylander ($4.875m) / Alexander Semin ($4.600m)
Mike Knuble ($2.800m) / Chris Clark ($2.633m) / Nicklas Backstrom ($2.400m)
Brooks Laich ($2.067m) / Brendan Morrison ($1.500m) / Matt Bradley ($1.000m)
Eric Fehr ($0.772m) / Boyd Gordon ($0.761m) / Dave Steckel ($0.725m)
Tomas Fleischmann ($0.725m) / Chris Bourque ($0.578m)
DEFENSEMEN
Mike Green ($5.250m) / Tom Poti ($3.500m)
Brian Pothier ($2.500m) / Shaone Morrisonn ($1.975m)
Milan Jurcina ($1.375m) / John Erskine ($1.250m)
Jeff Schultz ($0.715m)
GOALTENDERS
Jose Theodore ($4.500m) / Simeon Varlamov ($0.822m)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS
ROSTER:
23; PAYROLL: $57.227m; CAP ROOM: $1.223m BONUSES: $1.650m

(I put Bourque in instead of Aucoin, since I think it'll be one of the two of them and Bourque has the higher cap hit of the two.)

That leaves the Caps $427K into the bonus cushion. Backstrom's the only one on the roster with bonuses built into his contract (and it's a hefty one), and I don't see any reason why he won't get those bonuses if he keeps going as he has been. Since the salary cap is probably going to go down, and the Caps have to think about Backstrom, Semin, Steckel, Varlamov, and a couple of others next year, the Caps will need all the salary space they can get. Leaning too heavily on the bonus cushion this season spells trouble with a capital T next season. Add to that the need to leave room for injury callups, and after the craziness last season with injuries, I think GMGM really wants to be under the cap without the help of the bonus cushion come opening night, and that means that someone has to move.

So, who moves?

Looking at this, I think ShaMo is the most likely to get dangled, and the odds are decent that more than one D-man could move. Let's assume for a minute that Alzner shows himself ready to graduate in training camp (entirely likely). His cap hit is $1.675m, so either more than one D gets traded, or just one D with a larger cap hit than Alzner. Of the D on the Caps roster, the ones with a larger cap hit than Alzner are Green, Poti, Pothier, and ShaMo. Green's not going anywhere. Poti might move, but I don't think he's the Caps' first choice for reasons I'll talk about in a minute. Pothier's got too many injury questions around him, despite solid play down the stretch and in the playoffs, to really be a good trade for GM's right now. They're going to want to see a full, solid season with minimal injury and no concussion issues before they'll be interested. Besides, his story makes him a hometown hero, and thus he has more value to the Caps than to another team. I think (and hope) we keep him. That leaves ShaMo.

Poti could move, but his value is more than prospects and picks could satisfy, so he's not a good choice for a salary dump. Besides, he's the most experienced player on a team with a very young defense, and he's still a solid puck-mover. IMHO, we need him. ShaMo, on the other hand, could go for a good prospect and a pick (see the Aaron Ward trade), and while he is experienced (second only to Poti in GP), his stats last season were not all that scintillating, and neither was his play to these eyes. I think he's replaceable by Alzner or Carlson or even Sloan (who posted comparable numbers in his time here), and I think that there are teams out there who might bite:

  • St. Louis. They're still rebuilding, and a little behind us. They've still got $6m in cap space to play with, and if Alex Pietrangelo isn't ready to come up, they're going to be hurting on defense. The rest of their defense roster doesn't impress me either, although I happen to like Carlo Colaiacovo (and he's got an awesome name). They'll be looking for guys with playoff experience, and ShaMo might interest them.
  • Florida has close to $7m to play with and needs to either bring up or sign at least one more Dman to fill out a roster. Losing J-Bo hurts, and I don't know who if anyone they're planning to bring up from their minor leagues, but they've taken a step back this summer and might be interested. 
  • It's not impossible that San Jose Anaheim (ty brs03) could bite if Luca Sbisa isn't ready.

The only thing about this is - I said earlier that the Caps are $427K into the bonus cushion. Moving ShaMo and bringing up Alzner gives the Caps a larger bonus cushion to work with, but only takes $300K off the cap hit. So, now I turn to the experts on here. How much do the Caps care about going into the bonus cushion to start the year? Do they move someone else, and if so, who and to where, and for what?

If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.

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