For the second straight year, the Caps find themselves just outside the playoffs looking in as the trade deadline draws ever closer - just four points out of the division lead and three points away from eighth, odds are that the Caps are going to stand pat between now and 3:00 pm tomorrow (at least as far as selling goes).
That said... one never knows with George McPhee.
So who could be on the move and what could they get in return? Let's take a look at the team's pending unrestricted free agents and get an idea of what the Caps could be looking for in the next twenty-four hours.
#9 / Center / Washington Capitals
Feb 10, 1980
Salary/Cap Hit: $5m
The man of the hour - everyone's talking about Mike Ribeiro these days (and has for quite a while now), as he’s easily the top contender to move and if available is one of the best rental forwards out there right now. The 33-year-old pivot is top-20 in the League in points and assists, is ninth in power play assists and sixth in power play points and is in the final year of a 5-year, $25 million contract.
Ribeiro is looking for stability in what is likely his last big contract, and he’s already stated that he wants at least five years. He’s started talking extension with the Caps (and is expected to continue to do so) but if the two sides don’t seem close and McPhee doesn’t mind tanking the team’s playoff chances, he could be on the move.
#26 / Center / Washington Capitals
Jun 17, 1981
Salary/Cap Hit: $825,000
While Ribeiro is the most talented of the pending free agents, someone like Hendricks might be appealing to contending teams looking for a character guy who can bring a little grit. Hendricks has already matched his offensive output from all of last season (although the offense has dried up of late) and would be an affordable option for a team that wants an upgrade in the feistiness department… or a badass shootout specialist.
#17 / Left Wing / Washington Capitals
Feb 24, 1986
Salary/Cap Hit: $600,000
Since signing with the Caps last summer, Wolski’s bounced in and out of the lineup (for seemingly no reason, since at least some of the guys replacing him aren’t exactly producing a ton of offense), and it may just be that he doesn’t fit in with Adam Oates’s plan right now. If that’s the case, and if someone’s willing to take a chance on a guy who’s been benched more often than not, the Caps might be able to turn this cheap offseason signing into at least a mid to low draft pick.
#24 / Right Wing / Washington Capitals
May 30, 1985
Salary/Cap Hit: $600,000
Strangest waiver wire acquisition in quite a while, Volpatti’s been a roster insertion when Oates has wanted grit. Which hasn’t been that often. And when he’s been in the lineup, he hasn’t really brought that grit (aside from a fight in his first game as a Cap) or much else (aside from an admittedly nice assist on a goal a few weeks ago). Take our Volpatti, please!
#38 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Jan 24, 1986
Salary/Cap Hit: $650,000
Poor Hillen. Injured in the first game of the season, he’s only recently gotten back in the lineup and hasn’t done all that badly in the games since. And GMGM does seem to like hording blueliners, having seen what happens when a damaged set of defensemen takes the ice in a playoff series (*cough*sweep*cough*). But the Caps are about to have a few too many healthy bodies back there, and Hillen might make a good depth addition to a team wanting to shore up their D.
#30 / Goalie / Washington Capitals
Mar 23, 1988
Salary/Cap Hit: $1.15m
It’s unlikely that the Caps have plans to move one of their young goaltenders, especially at this point in the season and with Neuvirth still an RFA this summer… but if they should choose to do so he might draw some interest as a good young goalie with at least a little playoff experience who is hungry for the number one spot.
So that’s who could be available. But what if the Caps, just three points out of a playoff spot, decide to become buyers instead of sellers for the final push? Here are a few names who might be of interest:
#29 / Right Wing / Buffalo Sabres
Nov 30, 1982
Salary/Cap Hit: $5.3m (UFA in 2014)
Over the years Pominville has tortured the Caps… how nice would it be to bring in a guy like this and use him against other teams? He’s a 20-30 goal guy and someone who could help the Caps’ ailing penalty kill and provide another veteran presence. With Buffalo seemingly in full-on sell mode, might be worth a look.
#10 / Right Wing / New York Rangers
Feb 14, 1982
Salary/Cap Hit: $7.5m (UFA in 2014)
Okay, yes – Gaborik has been a bit of an underachiever for New York in recent years – at least compared to that hefty contract he signed (and really, who saw that backfiring?). But if the Caps want a top-six guy, and John Tortorella doesn’t kill him first, it might be an interesting experiment… or a frustrating one.
Either way, fun!
#83 / Right Wing / Edmonton Oilers
Aug 13, 1983
Salary/Cap Hit: $5m (UFA in 2014)
Hemsky has seemingly been on the trade block since Wayne Gretzky was in diapers, so it’s no surprise that the winger’s name has been tossed around yet again, even with the Oilers tantalizingly close to a playoff spot. He’s got one more year left on a 6-year, $24.6 million deal, so he’d be pricey to take on – but if the Caps can’t make things work with Ribeiro and want to add some skill to the wings instead, Hemsky’s a slightly younger, potentially cheaper option.
#14 / Right Wing / Florida Panthers
May 16, 1984
Salary/Cap Hit: $4.5m (UFA in 2015)
He just seems so familiar, I can’t put my finger on it…