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Pick 'Em: Eric Fehr or Tomas Fleischmann as Trade Bait

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Don't look now, but the NHL's trade deadline - March 3rd - is right around the corner, and there's a pretty good chance the Caps will be looking to make a move. After all, they are a very good team with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations, they have enough cap space to afford just about anyone they might want, they have a decently stocked farm system, and George McPhee has shown a willingness to make moves he thinks will improve the team, even if it means shaking up the status quo.

Of course, as a general rule acquiring an asset of value means giving up an asset of value. Prospects and draft picks are nice, but in an era when the vast majority of teams are in competition for a playoff spot, fans and management often expect quick results, and cost-controlled players are a premium, the reality is the Capitals might have to give up a young player with some NHL experience to get the player they want in return. The question then becomes, "Who on the Capitals roster is good enough to have value in a trade, but not indispensable to the current team?" The answer: Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann.

As for who to move in a situation where an opposing general manager is willing to take either for an identical return, well, that's a tougher question. To start out, let's take a look at each player's respective stat line:

Eric Fehr 51 15 14 29 14 18 16:24 6.0 1.2 7.2 102 14.7 2.52 12:08

GP G/60 A/60 P/60 PPG/60 PPA/60 PPP/60 GFON/60 GAON/60 +-ON/60 PTk/60 PDrw/60
Eric Fehr 51 1.46 1.23 2.70 1.53 2.30 3.83 3.60 1.91 1.69 0.6 1.3

T. Fleischmann 51 18 25 43 3 20 6 8.3 0.4 8.7
91 19.8 -2.21 16:24

GP G/60 A/60 P/60 PPG/60 PPA/60 PPP/60 GFON/60 GAON/60 +-ON/60 PTk/60 PDrw/60
T. Fleischmann 51 1.21 1.30 2.51 2.53 5.06 7.60 3.62 3.11 0.50 0.8 0.4

[Ed. note: For the purposes of this comparison, we used an adjusted version of Goals Versus Threshold, which does not take in to account shootout performance. Unless otherwise noted, all 'per sixty' statistics refer to five-on-five play. Rounding errors may exist in per sixty' statistics.]

Statistically speaking, the debate really isn't all that close: Fehr trumps Fleischmann in every non-powerplay category other than goals versus threshold, a number that is higher for Fleischmann because it does not take ice time in to consideration.

Of course, statistics don't tell the whole story. The case can be made that Fleischmann's skill set - he is a better skater, stickhandler, and passer than Fehr - are better fits for the Capitals system, and that his power play production is a valuable compliment to the Young Guns. Fleischmann also has a slight endge on the versatility front because, although his play at the position at the NHL level had mixed results, he is at least a viable option at the center position, and in terms of durability, having not endured the kind of early-career injury trouble Fehr has. As for Fehr, one could argue his size, defensive acumen, forechecking skill and effort, and net presence are attributes the Capitals have been lacking in the last couple of seasons and are therefore more valuable to the team.

Neither has a major advantage when it comes to contract status at this point - Fleischmann's slated to make $169,041 for the rest of this season; Fehr, $179,942. Both are restricted free agents at the season's end. The raw numbers say Flash is likely command a higher salary moving forward, but of course this is always subject to change if Fehr starts getting more minutes and putting up more impressive numbers.

Finally, Bruce Boudreau's reaction deserves some discussion. Anyone following the Caps over the last couple of seasons is well aware Gabby holds Fleischmann in high esteem, and may have noted that Fehr, despite his success both this season and last season, struggles to get ice time. Of course, it's McPhee, not Bruce Boudreau, who makes the team's personnel decisions, and it's Boudreau's job to win with the players McPhee gives him. That said, it's still probably an issue that warrants consideration, at least in this forum of discussion.

All that taken in to account, if you were in the position to pull the trigger on a trade that could put the Capitals over the top this season, who would you send out the door?