So what is there to talk about for Caps fans? Well Milan Jurcina's arbitration hearing is settled and the Caps now have at least 8 NHL quality defensemen under contract.
Here's my thoughts on the Caps current D-Men and their order on the depth chart: 1) Mike Green, 2) Tom Poti, 3) Brian Pothier, 4)Shoane Morrisonn, 5) Milan Jurcina, 6) Jeff Schultz, 7) John Erskine, 8) Karl Alzner, 9) Tyler Sloan, 10) John Carlson. Now many folks will argue with my placement of "Juice" at 5 and even Sha-Mo at 4 - I just think there is a comfort facto with them out there in the "defensively focused d-man role." It's clear 1, 2, and 3 are supposed to be the offensively minded blueliners when they are out there and not paired with each other though and it's also clear that Green is more at ease with either Sha-Mo or Schultz then Jurcina. However it's also clear from hits, etc. in the statistics the physicality that Jurcina brings to the Caps lineup is needed and desirable. Also, while it didn't seem like Alzner shied away from the physical side of the game, the only guys on the blueline last year who seemed to enjoy laying on a good body check more then a neat poke check or making a nifty outlet pass were "Juice" and John Erskine. So that's why I put both on the current depth chart above Alzner and Jurcina ahead of Schultz. Readers no doubt will have differing opinions and I'm sure there's lots of reasons to have and support them.
The bottom line here though is given Pothier is still really a question mark after being sidelined most of the past two seasons; and that you have to look at and talk more about Jurcina, Schultz, Alzner and Carlson in terms of potential and what they might do in the future; and you probably have to feel that both Morrisonn and Erskine are currently playing to their potential where they are on the Caps depth chart - the only two clear top four defensemen on the Caps roster right now are Green and Poti. What's that say or mean? Well let's start with this statement and fact - another season like last year and Mike Green will be the second Washington Capital who is a legitimate, acknowledged NHL superstar. The derision of Green's defensive play and lapses are, in my view, greatly exaggerated and misplaced. The only reason people talk about them so much is because it's so clear that he has tremendous talents and that's what you usually notice when he's on the ice. Tom Poti - like or hate him, you have to admit when you look at his stats he's a top tier defensemen, especially when you look around the SE Division. All that side what it means at the bottom line is at least two of the other eight guys on this list have to step it up and play all season long and through the playoffs like guys who are top four defensemen. If Pothier can come back fully from his injury and play all season long without any issues, he can do it, he's proven that. Of the others at least five of the other seven have the talent and innate skills to do it but they are all relatively young and untested. The obvious choice as most likely to do it this coming season - Shoane Morrisson - let's hope that Sha-Mo shows he deserves his relatively large paycheck. If Morrisson and Pothier and Green and Poti play like we know they can, then maybe the Caps can have the season and playoffs all of us Caps fans are rooting for.
Personally, I can't wait to find out if they can/do.
LETS GO CAPS!!!!!