As most fans know by now, the Washington Capitals traded 26-year old forward Tomas Fleischmann to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for 31-year old defenseman Scott Hannan. I saw a move like this in the works for awhile since Fleishcmann is expandable and has played some very bad hockey these past few months. Moving him to address another need was a smart move, and the Caps have needed more defensive depth all year. Basically anything to keep Tyler Sloan from playing every night. If you don’t know Scott Hannan, he was billed as a "physical shutdown defenseman" by the Avs after they signed him to a 4 year $18 mil contract a few seasons ago. He never really lived up to that hype but he is a good defensive player and had a good season last year.
After the jump, I'll explain what I like and don't like about the trade.
What I Like About This Trade
Like I said earlier, the Caps are moving a player who isn’t performing and doesn’t seem to have a place on a team. Fleischmann played well at the beginning of last season but only had 8 points in 18 games after the Olympic break last year and was brutal in the playoffs. He only has 10 points in 23 games this year despite getting top 6 minutes and having time on the powerplay unit.
I also like this move because it gives us more depth defensively and likely means that Tyler Sloan or Brandon Fahey will not play that many games for the rest of the year. With Hannan, we have 7 NHL caliber defenseman and one fringe player. Another move could be on the way or we might just waive Sloan now. I don’t see Hannan being more than a 3rd pairing defenseman but hopefully this will take the burden off Mike Green a little bit so he wont be playing near a half-hour a night. A defense corps of Green/Schultz, Alzner/Carlson, Poti/Hannan definitely looks like an improvement. Hannan can handle big minutes and kill penalties so that will be a huge help. Hopefully it will get Poti off the PK, at least.
What I Don’t Like About This Trade
Hannan’s cap hit is $4.5 mil but he only has a year left on his contract and it’s not that bad of a hit when taking away Flash’s $2.6 mil. You can definitely say that there were better options out there but McPhee didn’t want to give any free agent a multi-year contract, which is understandable. I am hoping people have realistic expectations about Hannan because his recent numbers don’t exactly say "big shutdown defenseman" like most are suggesting. If we’re just going to use him as a depth defenseman that can play big minutes, then I’m fine with it.
Another thing is that people say we could have gotten more for Fleischmann but I have to think his trade value is low right now and the only other rumor I heard was him going to Vancouver for Kevin Bieksa, which I didn’t want. Hannan is definitely a better option than Bieksa but I still believe that going after someone cheaper in free agency this summer could have been a more favorable move.
Also, with Flash gone there’s still the hole at 2nd line center which isn’t filled. As of right now, rookie Marcus Johansson has that position and he’s been playing very well since coming back from injury. Still have to remember that he’s only 20 and a rookie but he’s outperformed some expectations I’ve had for him. Johansson and possibly Mathieu Perrault will get chances at centering the 2nd line before McPhee decides if he’s going to make a move for someone to fill that hole. I can definitely see another trade coming very soon.
Overall, I like the trade and think it makes sense for both teams. Caps get rid of an unnecessary piece to fix another area, while the Avs move a big contract and get someone up front to help with the scoring now that Chris Stewart is hurt. I could see Flash doing well for the Avalanche if he's moved back to right wing since the transition to center seemed to throw him off his game.
One thing I'm wondering is that will another D-man be moved soon? Washington has 8 on the books right now and I think one of them could be moved or possibly waived soon.