On February 26th - the trade deadline, Washington GM George McPhee made several moves in addition to the Matt Cooke for Matt Pettinger deal. In all McPhee and the Capitals made three additional deals that day. They acquired veteran center Sergei Federov from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Prospect Defenseman Ted Ruth; they acquired 32 year old Goalie Christobel Huet from the Montreal Canadeans for a 2009 2nd Round Draft Pick they had acquired earlier in the season for surplus backline center Brian Sutherby in November; and they traded 29 year old journeyman forward Joe Motzko to the Atlanta Thrashers for journeyman forward Alexandre Giroux.
The Caps picked up 27 year old center Alexandre Giroux for 28 year old Right Wing Joe Motzko. What this deal was about is really unclear other than trying to give two journeyman another chance at greener pastures isn't obvious. Though it does appear a fair deal and it did clear ~$100,000 of cap room for the Capitals next year.
In designating rookie Cary Price as their number 1 goalie and trading Huet to the Caps, the Canadeans picked up a reasonably good draft pick for a guy they were likely to not resign anyway. The Capitals picked up a "second" number 1 goalie to bridge from 37 year old Olie Kolzig to any one of several goalies in their development system. Whether the Caps resign Kolzig will be dependant on Kolzig himself. It's virtually certain after the past twenty games, the Caps will make an effort to resign Huet, who is an unrestricted free agent at season's end. The Caps also have 31 year old, solid backup, Brett Johnson signed under contract through the 2008-2009 season. There doesn't seem to be much doubt the Huet deal made a very positive impact in Washington and was a solid move by George McPhee. Since joining the Capitals, the 32 year old Huet has played 13 games, compiling an 11-2-0 record including 2 shutouts; while earning a Goals Against Average of 1.63 and a save percentage of 93.6%. Between Huet's and Kolzig's current salaries the Caps have $8M of cap room at the end of the season; between this and their other Cap room, they should be able to resign Huet as well as Defensive Phenom, Mike Geen who is a restricted free agent at years end. Either way - whether the Caps resign Huet or not - in retrospect this has been a no brainer.
The benefits of picking up of 38 year veteran Russian center Sergei Federov are a little more sublime. Federov, an unrestricted free agent at seasons end, has three Stanley Cup Championships under his belt; and is a solid steadying presence in the locker room for Washington' younger Russian phenoms. Federov has 2 goals and 11 assists in 18 games played with the Caps; additionally he has played well on both the Powerplay and the Penalty Kill units. Additionally, Federov is clearly a great 2nd line partner for LW Alexander Semin. Semin has been on fire the last games of the season and his cross-ice backhand pass to Federov to set up the game winner the other night was masterful. Clearly, playing with the first big name Russian to come into the NHL is both inspiring and reassuring for both Semin and Ovechkin. Semin has a center that understands his style of play and Ovechkin has a guy he talk to in his native tongue about the burdens and joys of super-stardom and chasing that first Stanley Cup. Just as Michael Nylander was a solid, steadying influence for Nicklas Backstrom during the first part of the season, Federov is the same for Alexander Semin. Whether Federov comes back to the Caps and they have room for him next season of not, the Federov pickup was indeed a no brainer - who is Ted Ruth anyway?
The Caps first playoff run in five years starts on Friday at Verizon Center against the Flyers. I'm on vacation till Monday so my next post after tomorrow morning may not be till Tuesday but hey - LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!! Ovechkin for President - 2008!!!