For the first time in four years, I’m not anxious about the NHL’s trading deadline. I’m not excited about the prospect of new players joining the team and I’m not even sure the Washington Capitals need to hunt down any big names.
For the first time in four years, it appears the Capitals would be better off sellers than buyers at the deadline.
Let’s think about this, and then we’ll get to your weekly Top Six.
On one hand you have a team that is sitting just outside of a playoff spot and could use some new faces to reach a postseason position and generate new hope.
Then you have the sad truth.
The Caps are a broken team missing their best player (Nicklas Backstrom) and have issues that go beyond the ice and into the locker room.
A few trades may provide energy, but a fix for this team’s woes? Call me pessimistic, but I don’t see it happening. Past deadlines were supposed to do just that, but have failed to put the team over “the hump”.
So the question is; is it really worth dealing any players of value away for a postseason run that may only last one round if the team even qualifies?
It’s time to hit the reset button over the summer and if the team as it’s built makes the playoffs, ride that as far as it goes.
The Caps would be better served to play it safe than make a blockbuster that makes the future go bust, unless General Manager George McPhee can pull another Ted Ruth for Sergei Fedorov out of his hat.
(puts soapbox away)
And now, your Top Six.
1. Alexander Semin (one goal, three assists, four points)
Just in time for the trade deadline, the one active roster player who would likely be part of a blockbuster deal turns in a fine week of offensive production. Sasha minor has also been better about penalties. He didn’t take a single one this week and has been penalized only five times since the New Year began.
2. Alex Ovechkin (one goal, two assists, three points)
And just like that, Ovi is just 10 points off a goal-per-game pace this season, which would be a minor personal victory for the Great 8. If the Caps could ever use the old Ovi that averaged nearly a point and a half a game, it’s right now. Getting “old Ovi” back for the last two months of the season would be like winning a big trade deadline acquisition.
3. Marcus Johansson (one goal, two assists, three points)
The goal out of training camp was for Johansson to be the Caps’ No. 2 center. Now the team desperately needs any center to fill in while Backstrom heals, but Johansson continues to be the best option at No. 2. If Backstrom’s closer to returning than the Caps have let on, it might be OK to let Johansson run the show for a bit longer.
4. Mathieu Perreault (two goals, two points)
Perreault’s been sharing the No. 1 and No. 2 center duties with Johansson since the Backstrom injury, but it’s questionable if he can keep up his scoring for the rest of the season. Consider him good trade bait for a struggling/rebuilding team looking for young talent to rebuild around.
5. Dmitry Orlov (two assists, two points, plus-two)
Orlov missed the Carolina fiasco where most everyone ended with a minus rating, so there’s that (kind of highlights how horrendous the start of the week was, no?). Then there’s the fact he was solid two-ways against Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. Not a bad week, rookie.
6. Keith Aucoin (one goal, one assist, two points)
We’ll give Aucoin some credit for a strong Saturday night game that helped pull the Caps closer to the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed. It wasn’t a great week to begin with anyway, so to end it with a “call-up contributes in win” story is good enough.