There is a lot of talk about the upcoming trade deadline, so I thought I would give my 2 cents. I think the Capitals are in great shape going into the playoffs if they don't change anything at the trade deadline. I think they could use some depth and perhaps an upgrade or two, so I will outline players who I think are likely possibilities to trade for. This will not include goalies as I think the Capitals have more than they know what to do with and won't trade any of the ones they have, but I know that George McPhee is looking at everything. The caveat for any trade must be that McPhee would make the trade, which means he would take into consideration time left on a player's contract, personality and chemistry concerns, and the asking price. In general, don't expect McPhee to go after players with a lot of time left on their contracts, and I don't expect most playoff contending teams to trade away players they see as valuable.
In this post, I will profile the two defensemen I see as a likely trade possibilities and I'll give a quick rundown on why I don't see other defenders as possibilities. Forwards have their own post.
Defensemen to potentially trade for:
6’1, 211, Shoots: Left
2009-10 Salary Cap hit: $1 million. UFA for 2010-11
2009-10 Stats: 39 GP, 0-8-8, -2, 15 PIM, 17:20 TOI/G (2:13 SH, 0:51 PP), 12 Hits, 74 BkS, 12 GvA, 5 TkA, 21 Shots
Pros: Darryl Sydor is the
second third-most experienced defenseman in the league, after Nicklas Lidstrom and the newest Atlanta Thrasher, Chris Chelios. He’s played 1,283 career games and has scored 507 points and has only 755 PIM and is a career +25. He’s only racked up 15 PIM. He’s got the playoff experience, too, 155 games, 56 points, only 73 PIM, and +7. He’s got Stanley Cups in 1999 and 2004 and Cup Final appearances in 1993, 2000, and 2008. He’s also a 2-time All-Star. He’s durable, he hasn’t missed many games in his entire career. He’s also got legendary toughness, if you remember the 2000 Stanley Cup Final where he hurt his knee during the play and crawled to the front of the goal in an attempt to block shots because the refs hadn’t blown the play dead yet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO-Z3wPlZF0&feature=youtube_gdata. He still blocks a ton of shots; he averages over 6 and a half Blocked Shots per 60 minutes of ice time. He's also pretty responsible with the puck, with only 12 giveaways on the year, or 1.06 Giveaways per 60 minutes. He could mentor our defensemen like he has been mentoring the D in St. Louis this year.
Cons: Age. While Sydor was once known for his offense, that has dried up. He has only 8 assists this year and only had 28 points combined in the previous two years. He was also a healthy scratch for all but 4 games of that 2008 Cup Final run in Pittsburgh. He’s not the same player he used to be. He also only has 12 Hits and 5 Takeaways all season.
Asking Price: Relatively low, unless there’s a bidding war.
6'1, 200, Shoots: Right
2009-10 Salary Cap Hit: $2.7 mil
2010-11 Salary Cap Hit: $2.7 mil
2009-10 Stats: 40 GP, 0-7-7, -19, 59 PIM, 18:50 TOI/G (0:50 PP, 2:18 SH), 44Hits, 91 BkS, 32 GvA, 7 TkA, 45 Shots
Pros: Staios is a solid defenseman with a nasty edge to him. He's a leader, as evidenced by the "A" he wears, but he is best known for his toughness and work ethic, and he' a great team guy. He is very experienced, with 879 NHL games under his belt and career totals of 52-147-199 and 1,229 PIM give an indicator of his style of play. He's not afraid to shoot the puck, he's had two seasons with over 150 shots, and he's scored a few goals in his day, though none yet this year may be more of an indicator of who he plays with than aging shooting skills. He's also had a few seasons in the upper 20s in points. He's pretty durable, having played in at least 80 games in 4 of the past 5 seasons. He's not afraid of the rough stuff and should be the crease clearing defender everyone wants, and he represents an pgrade over Erskine in several areas. He also has 33 playoff games under his belt, including the 2006 Edmonton Stanley Cup Final run, and has 1-5-6 in those games. He's also a righty, which would give us more balance on the back end.
Cons: Age, he's getting up there, and that can't be good for his footspeed. Puck control: His 32 Giveaways to 7 Takeaways tells me he's not exactly quick with the stick. Injuries: He's missed 22 games this season with a concussion (at least one), and it's not his first. With another year on his contract, do we really want to be on the hook for another season if he won't play? His plus minus rating of -19 this year is likely an indicator of a horrid Oilers team, but his -65 rating doesn't instill much confidence, either.
Asking price: The Oilers love Staios, hence him being there since 2000-01, but they realize he's getting old. That extra year on his deal may increase or decrease his asking price depending on what the Oilers see as the risk of keeping him. He won't come particularly cheap, as I'm he he's highly sought after, but he shouldn't break the bank.
Edit: Well, darn. Zidlicky is signed in Minnesota. So much for that.
Edit: If Zidlicky is available, I am willing to bet the Caps have interest. Marek Zidlicky is reportedly close to signing an extension in Minnesota (and I'm not surprised), but if he gets traded, I'd love to see the Caps make a play for him. Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota Wild (Age 33) 5'11, 190, Shoots: Right 2009-10 Salary Cap Hit: $3.35 million, UFA for 2010-11 60 GP, 5-31-36, -2, 49 PIM, 23:42 TOI/Game (2:36 SH, 3:46 PP), 64 Hits, 100 BkS, 40 GvA, 24 TkA, 94 Shots Zidlicky is having a fine year offensively for the Wild and had a fine Olympics, even if his team did not. He is 4th in scoring on the Wild and 11th among league defensemen. He averages 23:42 a night and his -2 rating is fairly strong on that team. Half his scoring is on the powerplay (3-15-18). His 49 PIM indicate he's not prone to taking too many dumb penalties this season. He's not afraid to shoot, either, with 94 shots on goal, and his right-handed shot would be a boon to the lefty-heavy Caps and he could free up Ovechkin from the point on the powerplay. His career offensive numbers are impressive, with 52 goals and 253 points in 443 games. He's scored 12 or more goals in three of his six NHL seasons, 42 or more points in 4 of 6, and he's scored at least 30 points in every season so far. His career playoff numbers are somewhat limited by him playing for Nashville for four years, but he's played 14 playoff games over four seasons with 6 assists to show for it. He's also had a strong international career with the Czech National Team and after taking home bronze in 2006 he added 5 assists in 5 games for them in Vancouver. Add to that leading the Finnish Elite League in defenseman scoring for four years prior to playing in the NHL. He's also not particularly prone to injury, having played in fewer than 76 games in only one NHL season (67 in 2005-06), but his penalty minute totals from earlier in his career are a little troubling (420 PIM). As for his defensive play, he's third on the Wild in blocked shots with 100, but that number would lead the Caps right now (Jeff Schultz also has 100). He's also had 64 hits in 60 games this year (which would place him 4th among Caps D). He's had 40 giveaways to 24 takeaways, which isn't a bad ratio for a defenseman, but could be better (for comparison's sake, Green has 58/32 and Poti has 42/29). He could be a very solid addition to the blueline. Cons: Well, he's an offensive defenseman who's only 5'11. He'll help the offensive game, but there are questions about what he'll bring defensively and how many penalties he'll take. He doesn't have much playoff experience. Cap hit: Affordable Asking price: High. If the Wild got Cam Barker for Kim Johnsson, how much will they want for a player they'd really like to keep? I wouldn't mind seeing Francois Bouchard join his brother in Minnesota as part of the deal, but I wouldn't be willing to give up much from the active roster.
Edit: So much for Andy Sutton, he's apparently gone to Ottawa for the exact same price as Leopold to Pittsburgh.
6’6, 245, Shoots: Left 2009-10 Salary Cap Hit: $3 million, UFA for 2010-11 54 GP, 4-8-12, -3, 73 PIM, 20:48 TOI/Game (2:28 SH, 0:12 PP), 155 Hits, 153 BkS, 51 GvA, 21 TkA, 58 Shots Pros: Andy is a big boy, he’s mean and nasty, and he’s exactly the crease-clearing type of defenseman everyone says we need. He leads the NY Islanders in hits (8.28 per 60), Blocks Shots (8.17 per 60), and he logs big minutes, especially on the penalty kill (2:28 SH TOI per game, leads the team’s defensemen). He’s in the middle of the pack for +/- on the Islanders at -3. He is experienced at age 35 with 567 NHL games, which would make him the second-most experienced defenseman on the Caps. He has that nasty streak to stand up to opponents’ tough guys if we need it. Cons: He is 35, so he’s getting up there in age. He doesn’t have much offensive upside, though he did have a few decent seasons in Atlanta, he has 135 points in 567 NHL games. He has a penchant for penalties, take out his majors and he has 23 minor penalties in 54 games. That sounds Jurcina-like, and as we all know, dumb penalties can cost you playoff games. He does have that nasty-streak, but do we really need an enforcer? Look what happened in St. Louis with Quintin Laing, instead of a 5 minute powerplay, we got a fight and a 1 minute powerplay and lost the game. Sutton is approaching 1,000 PIM for his career. He also has a whopping 4 career playoff games under his belt. Not sure he’s the guy who will be skating down quick forwards in the playoffs, either. Cap Hit: Affordable, but relatively high. Asking Price: Reportedly low, but if he attracts interest, it could go up. It might be in our price range if he’s what we’re looking for, but if he’s priced like Jordan Leopold was, this could work.
My personal preference for a top defenseman has already been moved to Chicago in Kim Johnsson. Jordan Leopold has gone to Pittsburgh. Aaron Ward to Anaheim. Martin Skoula to Toronto then New Jersey. Dennis Seidenberg to Boston. Derek Morris to Phoenix.
Dan Hamhuis has attracted interest from the Philadelphia Flyers (and the Caps don't really fit the mold of a team that would pursue him). He's a 27-year old potential UFA. He's going to be very expensive as a rental and very expensive to re-sign, which would be the only reason to give up what the Flyers would to acquire him in the first place. On his merits, I'd take him, but the asking price is too high.
Sheldon Souray is way too expensive and old for too long a term. I don't think the Caps will pony up for Joe Corvo like other teams will. I also don't think we wanted a head-job like Aaron Ward when we could have gotten him off waivers this year anyway. Pavel Kubina isn't going anywhere, Don Waddell still wants to make the playoffs. Ditto for Scott Niedermayer.
Dennis Seidenberg was a possibility, but I didn't consider him likely. He isn't a clear upgrade in most respects, but his last two seasons have been pretty good, including the Carolina Hurricanes' Conference Final run last spring, and he's played in three Olympics for Germany. I didn't rule him out, but I really didn't see how he'd be better than calling up Karl Alzner or John Carlson.
I've also heard Jan Hejda is available, but I don't see how he'd be an upgrade over what we have, plus he's got another year on his deal. You'd think Columbus would want to keep young, good, cheap defensmen. And we traded Milan Jurcina for a reason, he's not coming back. His only pluses are that he's UFA at the end of the season and he's familiar with our system.
Another intriguing possibility was Ruslan Salei, he's been injured most of the year and I've heard a rumor that the Colorado Avalanche would like to move him. I wouldn't mind seeing him in a Caps sweater, but I don't understand why the Avs would trade such an experienced guy when they are heading into the playoffs. I've heard John-Michael Liles might be available, which makes Salei even less likely to move, but he won't come here with two more years at $4.2 mil left on his deal. This makes a guy like Tom Gilbert in Edmonton even less attractive with 4 more years at $4 million left on his deal.
Tomas Kaberle is way too high end for what we're looking for, and that extra year on his deal makes it a challenge to have him on the roster. I think he's a fine player, but I would guess that Brian Burke would ask for a lot and that we wouldn't be willing to give up a lot to get him. We've already got the best offensive defenseman in the league.