Perhaps I was not the only one mildly surprised when the Caps invited AHL and NHL journeyman Matt Hendricks to training camp right in the middle of the dramatic, public parting of ways with Eric Belanger. If there was not a roster spot for a proven forward the team clearly wanted to bring back (at least at some point), then how could there be any opening for Hendricks, a 31-year-old who had at that point played just 60 NHL games?
As it turns out, there was a roster spot available at the time to be claimed by Hendricks, but it hardly seems likely that there were two. If the Caps and Belanger's camp had patched things up in September, Hendricks might not have received that invite. The question is: would the Caps be better off with Belanger?
The stats certainly demonstrate what we already knew: Belanger is the better offensive player.
|Eric Belanger (PHX)||30||4||10||14||-2||8||1||0||1||43||54.8|
|Matt Hendricks (WAS)||31||4||5||9||-3||59||1||0||2||44||53.2|
But Hendricks brings a certain style of energy that was missing from the Caps last year -- more of what the team was trying to add by trading for Scott Walker.
Belanger signed with Phoenix for $750,000 -- he probably wouldn't have taken that from Washington because of wounded pride. But if you could go back into September, and knowing what you know now you could either add a happy Eric Belanger at $750,000 or Matt Hendricks for $575,000, who would you take?