Well yesterday's big news announcement is in the books and now we can take a minute to look ahead a where the Capitals are with regards to 2010 - 2011 roster and what I personally think they ought to do with making signings and adjustments as well as what I think they will do and why. I'm not for any major retools or changes and I've posted as much on comments to threads and things on other blogs since the end of the season. I'm also not spending a lot of time looking back and grading performances, etc for two main reasons 1) I think the evaluations that are traditionally done on Japer's Rink and The Peerless Prognosticator are very well done and for the most part I tend to agree with them; and B) that's just not the sort of guy I am, I do think over and identify necessary changes and lessons learned but other than that throughout my life I haven't really dwelled on "the past" at all - like those guys at Nike say I'm a "just do it" guy... The following post goes through things in the following order- i) The Caps who were on last year's roster and are signed already for next season; ii) The Caps who were on the roster and who are basically now RFAs and UFAs; iii) The guys around the league who I think are the "best" available UFAs at each position and what I'd consider or NOT consider doing with them if I were GM George McPhee aka GMGM; and last iv) what I'd do for an opening night roster and then through the season if I were both GMGM and coach Bruce Boudreau.
Now, about the rest of the Capitals' 2010-2011 roster -let's talk. After today's announcement the Capitals now have the following 19 players signed and on the roster next season:
1) Alexander Ovechkin - Cap Hit: $9.5M, signed through the end of the 2020-2021 season;
2) Nicklas Backstrom - Cap Hit: $6.7M, signed through 2019 - 2020 season;
3) Alexander Semin - Cap Hit: $6M, becomes an UFA after next season;
4) Mike Green - Cap Hit: $5.25M, becomes a RFA after the end of the 2011-2012 season;
5) Tom Poti - Cap Hit: $3.5M, becomes an UFA after next season;
6) Mike Knuble - Cap Hit: $2.8M, becomes an UFA after next season;
7) Brooks Laich - Cap Hit: $2.1M, becomes an UFA after next season;
8) Jason Chimera - Cap Hit: $1.875M, becomes an UFA after the end of the 2011-2012 season;
9) Karl Alzner - Cap Hit: $1.675M, becomes a RFA after next season;
10) John Erskine - Cap Hit $1.25M, becomes an UFA after next season;
11) Dave Steckel - Cap Hit: $1.1M, becomes an UFA after the end of the 2012 - 2013 season;
12) Matt Bradley - Cap Hit: $1.0M, becomes an UFA after next season;
13) Marcus Johansson - Cap Hit $900K, becomes a RFA after the 2012 -2013 season;
14) John Carlson - Cap Hit: $875K, becomes a RFA after the end of the 2011-2012 season;
15) Semyon Varlamov - Cap Hit: $822K, becomes a RFA after next season;
16) Michal Neuvirth - Cap Hit: $822K, becomes a RFA after next season;
17) Tyler Sloan - Cap Hit: $700K, becomes an UFA after the end of the 2011 - 2012 season;
18) Mathieu Perrault - Cap Hit: $650K, becomes a RFA after next season;
19) Keith Aucoin - Cap Hit: $500K, becomes an UFA after the end of the 2011 - 2012 season.
The following 10 Capitals/Bears were on the roster at one point or other last season and will be RFAs unless resigned before July.
1) Jeff Schultz: 2009-2010 Salary: $715K
2) Eric Fehr: 2009-2010 Salary: $772K
3) Boyd Gordon: 2009-2010 Salary: $761K
4) Tomas Fleischmann: 2009-2010 Salary: $725K
5) Zach Miscovic: 2009-2010 Salary: $900K
6) Andrew Gordon: 2009-2010 Salary: $660K
7) Jay Beagle: 2009-2010 Salary: $688K
8) Chris Bourque: 2009-2010 Salary: $578K
9) Patrick McNeil: 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
10) Kyle Wilson: 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
The following 11 Capitals/Bears are now slated to be UFAs unless resigned before July.
1) Jose Theodore: 2009-2010 Salary: $4.5M
2) Joe Corvo: 2009-2010 Salary: $2.75M
3) Scott Walker: 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
4) Shoane Morrisonn: 2009-2010 Salary: $1.975M
5) Eric Belanger: 2009-2010 Salary: $1.75M
6) Brendan Morrisson: 2009-2010 Salary: $1.5M
7) Milan Jurcina: 2009-2010 Salary: $1.375M
8) Quintin Laing: 2009-2010 Salary:$500K
9) Kyle Wilson: 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
10) Boyd Kane: 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
11) Alexandre Gioux: 2009-2010 Salary: $500K.
The following players around the NHL are guys I believe are either the best available at their positions, or guys we might at some point between now and August 15th discuss being in Capitals "Sweaters" at the start of training camp who are slated to be UFAs this summer.
2010 UFA Forwards - Wings: Other than the #1, #2 and #3 guys on the list who I think will still want more money than the Capitals want to spend on wings, and the #4 guy on the list who the Caps couldn't even begin to talk about without an unneeded and undesired total reshuffle of the roster, there's really nobody on the list except #5 Max Afiniganov who might be picked up for a bargain price and at which he could add some additional excitement and scoring touch to the second and/or third lines. That said to make even picking up Afiniganov up it would have to be a bargain. I really don't think the Caps need to or should go outside the guys in their current system and bring in any more wings, they really don't need them. Of course if for some strange reason Lee Stempniak would be available at around the $2.0M mark or Tomas Plekanec would be available at a $3.5M Cap hit or less, now that's a deal worth talking about. All that said I don't see either of those things happening. The rest of the list has some interesting folks but not guys I'd rather have than signing Eric Fehr to a qualifying offer and then giving some of the folks in Hershey a shot early next season to fill out the available roster spots, etc. The list has some other folks who will generate interest at a number of places around the league where scoring punch is needed like say Boston and where it's clear a rebuild is being under taken like Toronto, guys like Alexander Frolov, etc. but for various reason I just don't see them as guys the Caps would rather have than the guys they can resign as RFAs, etc. - In other words because of the strength of what the Caps have in their pipeline and on their 2009-2010 roster as RFAs, it's just not worth them signing any of the 30 plus UFA RW/LW at any sort of premium. Here's the list as I see it:
1) Tomas Plekanec: Current Team - Montreal, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.75M
2) Lee Stemniak: Current Team - Phoenix, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M
3) Rafi Torres: Current Team - Buffalo, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.75M
4) Ilya Kovalchuk: Current Team - New Jersey, 2009-2010 Salary: $7.5M
5) Maxim Afiniganov, Current Team - Atlanta, 2009-2010 Salary: $800K
Below #5, I don't have anybody rank ordered. I'll look closer at each of them as July approaches but my efforts right now are to look at what I'd do with the Capitals 2010-2011 roster. I looked at 27 guys who are wings from the other teams as well as the Capitals UFAs. The other 22 besides the top 5 I'd consider/look at above are:
a)Teemu Selanne: Current Team: Anaheim, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.0M
b) Colby Armstrong, Current Team Atlanta: 2009-2010 Salary: $2.4M
c) Evgeni Artyukin, Current Team - Atlanta, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
d) Miroslav Satan: Current Team - Boston, 2009-2010 Salary: $700K
e) Paul Kariya: Current Team - Saint Louis, 2009-2010 Salary: $6.0M
f) Ray Whitney; Current Team - Carolina, 2009-2010 Salary$3.55M
g) Adam Burish; Current Team - Chicago, 2009-2010 Salary: $725K
f) Marek Svatos, Current Team - Colorado, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.35M
g) David Koci, Current Team - Colorado, 2009-2010 Salary: $575K
h) Tomas Holstrom, Current Team - Detroit, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.25M
i) Fernando Pisaini, Current Team - Edmonton, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
j) Alexander Frolov, Current Team - Los Angeles, 2009-2010 Salary: $4.0M
k) Fredrik Modin, Current Team - Los Angeles, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M
l) Richard Park, Current Team - Islanders, 2009-2010 Salary: $800K
m) "Vinny" Prospal, Current Team - Rangers, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.15M
n) Taylor Pyatt, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009-2010 Salary: $600K
o) Alexi Ponakoravsky, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
p) Bill Guerin, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.0M
q) Ruslen Fedotenko, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.8M
r) Matt Cooke, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.2M
s) Alex Tangauy, Current Team - Tampa Bay, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
t) Pavol Dmetria, Current Team - Vancouver, 2009-2010 Salary: $4.0M.
2010 UFA Centers: The biggest discussion most of the Caps Fans who study and ponder these things have is should the Capitals go to the UFA market and try and sign a second line center and if not what should they do about that need next season given that both Eric Belanger and Brendan Morrison are UFAs themselves. The challenge for the Capitals is the UFA market this season has approximately 22 available choices but only 7 are worth even talking about for the Capitals needs and if you say that you are looking for a guy to skate with and center some combination of Alexander Semin/Brooks Laich and/or Eric Fehr that number drops to between three or four of the guys in the available pool. First let me say, if I thought going out and after an available UFA Center was the right thing to do I'd definately go after the #1 and /or #2 guy I have on this list. That said I just don't see the Caps, or anyone getting John Madden under contract for less than $3.5M/year and that could be a tough thing for them to deal with under the salary cap, Saiku Koivu might take a salary between $3.0 and $3.5M but again probably not. So then you are down to the rest of the list and while I think it's worth talking about any of #3 - #5 Comrie, Halpren, or Wellwood you have to ask are they really a better option than a) either having Brooks Laich, who is a natural center play pivot on the second line or resigning either Belanger or Brendan Morisson, and having them split that playing time with a number of players who you could give a shot from Hershey as well as giving Laich some time there as well and seeing what works. Worst case you once again go out at the trade deadline and pick up a rental for the second line center and some additional depth. My list of the 20 available centers on the other 29 NHL rosters is as follows:
1) John Madden, Current Team - Chicago, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $2.75M
2) Saiku Koivu, Current Team - Anaheim, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.25M
3) Mike Comrie, Current Team - Edmonton, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $1.25M
4) Jeff Halpren, Current Team - Los Angeles, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $2.0M
5) Kyle Wellwood, Current Team - Vancouver, 2009-2010 Salary:$1.2M
Others, some with my comments from the Peanut Gallery:
a) Manny Malhotra, Current Team - San Jose, 2009-2010 Salary: $700K
- a bargain third line center this past season for the Sharks, price will go up to numbers similar to Belanger or Morrison could be resigned at so why do this?
b) Dominic Moore, Current Team - Montreal, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.1M
- "stock" way up based on what we've seen in this post season and a real energy guy but not a second line skating/scoring center in the Caps system, that said if he keeps playing the way he has been through the Conference Finals he's probably going to get a $2.0M salary from someone next season.
c) Patrick Marleau, Current Team - San Jose, 2009-2010 Salary: $6.3M
- Along with Kovalchuk, the best available forward/center who is a UFA this season. He's s solid first liner, no doubt, the Caps can't afford him without any sort of major roster overhaul and why do something so high risk to a good and maturing team?
d) Chris Higgins, Current Team - Calgary, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.25M
e) Stephane Yelle, Current Team - Colorado, 2009-2010 Salary: $550K
- dirty deeds, done dirt cheap, at this price, or even a number below $1M he's certainly worth an NHL roster slot in my book and he'll be somewhere next season for more than $55oK...
f) Jason Williams, Current Team - Detroit, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.5M
- Worth his price but not the second line center the Caps need and not worth more than the Caps are currently going to pay David Steckel next season or would need to pay either Boyd Gordon or Brendan Morrison.
g) Glen Metropolit, Current Team - Montreal, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
- Solid experience and at this price he'd be an interesting depth guy/fourth liner with his defensive skills and experience. That said, not a good fit for the Caps now and I suspect he'll get another year from Montreal at a number between $750K and $1.25M.
h) Rob Niedermayer, Current Team - New Jersey, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
- not a good fit for the Caps needs and a bit "long in the tooth".
i) Doug Weight, Current Team - Islanders, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.0M
- either retires or plays another season in Uniondale at a price less than $2.0M
j) Olli Joikenen, Current Team - Rangers, 2009-2010 Salary: $5.5M
- Ugh, don't even think about it, just such a horrible fit for the Capitals... and I'd have no idea what salary and term Joikenen will end up signing at. It's clear to me that both he and Jay-Bo would both be better off if they had stayed in Florida and vice - versa....
k) Matt Cullen, Current Team - Ottawa, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $2.8M
- Interesting and worth discussion but not at this price, and I still think we'd be better off with Brooks Laich at second line center.
l) Matt Lombardi, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $2.35M
- Interesting but I can't figure out how he'd do on the Capital's second line. Ia have a feeling that he'd be constantly trying to figure out what to do to anticipate Semin's creativity and struggle to keep up when Fehr turns on the jets. As for Laich I think he's in many ways the easiest and best guy for a new forward to play with. When he's with a new linemate he keeps it simple and seems to let them, at least initially, set the skating pace until the opponents give him an open skating or shooting lane to the goal....
m) Robert Lang, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $1.0M
- I like him but not the guy for the job the Caps need to fill these days.
n) Craig Conroy, Current Team - Calgary, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $1.0M
- uh, no.
n) Wayne Primeau, Current Team - Toronto, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.4M
- will be interesting to watch what happens to him this summer, I just sort of feel that if you wanted him this past summer, Brian Burke would have delivered him like he did so many other Leafs to your doorstep.
2010 UFA Defensemen: In addition to the Capitals 3 UFA and 3 RFA blue liners, I looked over 31 available UFA defensemen on the other 29 NHL teams. Unlike some who are screaming that the Capitals need a no kidding full blown "defensive" defenseman, I don't see the Capitals a) changing their system all that much to make that work well and b) I don't see Anton Volchenkov, who's number 2 on my list as that guy. I certainly don't see Volchenkov being worth anywhere near the $5M/season I think he'll command this off season to the Washington Capitals. As further testiment to that statement, if I thought the Caps needed that or wanted that I'd go after Paul Martin. I think Martin is a better all around player than Volchenkov, I think he'd fit and thrive on the Capitals roster and I think he'd easily step in and take over the role and minutes Tom Poti is playing now after this next season. All that said I see Martin getting $5M+ a season as well so assuming it's $5.5M per season you have to ask is he affordable since I still want Mike Green around for many years to come. I see Green's game maturing, he's just 25 years old and he's already been a Norris Trophy finalist twice (the last two seasons). He has the potential to be the next Nicklas Lidstrom, IMO. Doing anything other than including him clearly in the core that is the Capitals for the next 5+ years is a wrong move. So if you look at the list of available free agent defensemen who other than Paul Martin might have the potential to be a Chris Pronger or Zdeno Chara like force that can also jump up and join the rush like they have at times during these playoffs and not look foolish? I don't see any names on that list of available players except for Mr. a) (Lidstrom) and Mr. b) (Niedermeyer); and neither of those guys are likely to be playing anywhere other than Detroit and Anaheim respectively next season, if they don't retire at their own choosing. So then you need to look at the guys I've listed as 3) through 6) and compare/consider them versus the three Capitals who are UFA as well as RFA Jeff Shultz. The only one I'd talk in that same group is probably Dan Hamius. I think Hamius, another former WHL star like Green, Schultz and Alzner would fit in nicely and might, I emphasize might be affordable if he wants to come to DC. After Hamius, sure I'd consider and talk to Denis Seidenberg, but how much are you willing to pay Seidenberg when you can likely get Jeff Schultz, Shoane Morrisonn, or Milan Jurcina for less and Joe Corvo for a comparable price? Ditto for Arron Ward and Kim Johnsonn isn't worth what Paul Martin would be worth to the Capitals and will likely be looking for a deal of comparable numbers/salary cap hit as Martin and Volchenkov will command. While there are a few other folks worth talking about none are by my reckoning a better fit/deal for the Capitals than resigning at least one or more of the 3 Capital UFA blue liners. Here's how I see the available market from a "buyers" perspective, remember when I've listed them after a letter (e.g. a) that is not necessarily in any sort of ranking/priority order.)
1) Paul Martin, Current Team - New Jersey, 2009-2010 Salary $4.5M
2)Anton Volchenkov, Current Team - Ottawa, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.2M
3) Kim Johnsonn, Current Team - Chicago, 2009-2010 Salary: $5.3M
4) Arron Ward, Current Team Anaheim, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
5) Denis Seidenberg, Current Team - Boston, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.25M
6) Dan Hamius, Current Team - Nashville, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
a) Nicklas Lidstrom, Current Team - Detroit, 2009-2010 Salary: $7.45M
b) Scott Niedermeyer, Current Team - Anaheim, 2009-2010 Salary: $6.0M
c) Pavel Kubina, Current Team - Atlanta, 2009-2010 Salary: $5.0M
d) Brett Clark, Current Team - Colorado, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M
e) Brian Pothier, Current Team - Carolina, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
f) Toni Lydman, Current Team: Buffalo, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.15M
g) Garnet Exelby, Current Team - Toronto, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.725M
h) Nick Boynton, Current Team - Chicago, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.5M
i) Andreas Lilja, Current Team - Detroit, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.25M
j) Marc-Andre Bergeron, Current Team - Montreal, 2009-2010 Salary: $750K
k) Henrik Tallinder, Current Team Buffalo, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.25M
l) Andy Sutton, Current Team - Ottawa, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M
m) Lukas Krajicek, Current Team - Philadelphia, 2009-2010 Salary: $700K
n) Derek Morris, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.3M
o) Mathieu Schneider, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.55M
p) Adrian Aucoin, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.25M
q) Sergei Gonchar, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $5.5M
r) Mark Eaton, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009 -2010 Salary: $2.0M
s) Jordan Leopold, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $1.75M
t) Jay McKee, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $800K
u) Rob Blake, Current Team - San Jose, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M
v) Nicklas Wallin, Current Team - San Jose, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.75M
w) Daryl Sydor, Current Team - Saint Louis, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
x) Willie Mitchell, Current Team - Vancouver, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M'
y) Brad Lukowich, Current Team - Vancouver, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.6M
2010 UFA Goaltenders: Right now the Capitals Jose Theodore who earned $4.5M last season will be a UFA this coming season. I've said I don't see him in a Capitals uniform next season unless he takes a pay cut. I've also said I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up with a pay cut even if he moves on. That's a function of this summers UFA market as much or more than Theo's performance last season. The truth is last season, Jose Theodore had his best season since the "lockout" and his second best since winning the Hart and Vezina Trophies at the end of the 2001-2002 seasons. I've mentioned elsewhere I think he deserved a chance to play as a starter in game 7 against the Canadiens this year. I agree he should have been pulled in game 2. I've also been clear that I thought Semyon Varlamov played well enough to deserve his starts in games 3 through 6. My beef is that based on Varlamov's game 6 performance SV% 0.8571, stopping only 18 of 21 shots on goal, unless Theo was injured, I think the Caps should have given him a chance to beat his former team. Of course I've also said, I don't know what the situation was and as such it's clearly my uniformed opinion. All that said here's what I do know, of the 21 available UFA goaltenders the guy I'd most want in a Capitals uniform of any of them next season is Jose Theodore. He's a consummate pro, he's a great teammate by everything we fans can see and when he's on, he's still one of the best. Unfortunately because of the great season he had last year, I can't see someone giving him on the order of $2.5M/year. I also can't see the Capitals giving him more than $2.0M/year and I think his bigger issue with coming back to the Capitals will be playing time/starts.
So here's the other 20 guys I looked at none of which do I think the Caps could get more affordably or at a better value than Theodore and Dan Ellis of the Predators, except for maybe Ray Emery, and despite his solid effort in Philadelphia last season, I think between injuries and past locker room antics he's not worth the risk. So it looks like a season where we see who of Varlamov, Neuvirth AND Holtby the Caps likely goaltender of the future is and if that doesn't work out look for them to go out and get some "heavy hitter" at the trade deadline. Personally that's why all things considered I'd seriously try and get Theo to take a 1 year/$2.5M deal this next season or maybe Dan Ellis for $2.5-3.0M/year for two years. I don't see any of the three "youngsters" being "the guy" just yet.... So here's the rest of the UFA goaltender pool - there's a lot in it:
1) Jose Theodore, Washington, 2009-2010 Salary: $4.5M
2) Dan Ellis, Nashville, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.0M
a) Johan Hedberg, Atlanta, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.175M
b) Joey MacDonald, Anaheim, 2009-2010 Salary: $650K
c) Patrick Lalime, Buffalo, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
d) Manny Legace, Carolina, 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
e) Vesa Toskla, Calgary, 2009-2010 Salary: $4.0M
f) Peter Budaj, Colorado, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.25M
g) Marty Turco, Dallas, 2009-2010 Salary:$5.7M
h) Alex Auld, Rangers, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
i) Wade Dubielwwicz, Minnesota, 2009-2010 Salary: $600K
j) Yann Denis, New Jersey, 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
k) Martin Biron, Islanders, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.4M
l) Steve Valliquette, Rangers, 2009-2010 Salary: $725K
m) Ray Emery, Philadelphia, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.5M
n) Michael Leighton, Philadelphia, 2009-2010 Salary: $600K
o) Johan Backland, Philadelphia, 2009-2010 Salary: $800K
p) Brent Johnson, Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $525K
q) Evgeni Nabakov, San Jose, 2009-2010 Salary: $6.0M
r) Chris Mason, Saint Louis, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.0M
s) Antero Nittymaki, Tampa Bay, 2009-2010 Salary: $600K
So if I were GMGM what would I do next now that first line center Nicklas Backstrom is under long term contract. Well in order:
1) Get Jeff Schultz under contract for another 3+ seasons. This past season I became a believer on Schultz. He's a solid position player and the confidence his teammates can have in his ability to be in the right place on the ice 95+% of the time, with a very active stick, as they say, "makes everyone around him a better player." He's basically now clearly a top four defenseman on just about every NHL roster and will clearly be resigned unless somebody is willing to make a very stupid offer sheet on him. I just don't see that happening so I'd try and get him and his agent in and the deal done now. I see Schultz costing between $1.75 and $2.25M/ season of Cap Space and being worth it. His minutes need to be increased from this years ATOI of 19:51 to ~ 21:00/21:30 to make him worth that but it's not a stretch or hard to see that happening.
2) Get Eric Fehr under contract for another 2-3 seasons. Fehr's another guy who made a believer of me this past season. Not coincidentally, his first full season as a Capital when he wasn't fighting the injury bug early and often. Last season Fehr was the Capitals best bargain when looking at his cost per even strength goal (just $42,875/goal - 9th best in the league). His Corsi numbers and his +18 +/- were solid; additionally he made the most of his ice time scoring 21 goals on the season with an average TOI of just 12:07. Assuming Fehr can stay in solid shape this summer and comes to camp healthy, vice recovering from surgery in both shoulders like he did last season, he should clearly have an even better year and play more than the 69 games he had this past season. He's only 25 so giving him a two year extension, or even a three year wouldn't be a bad thing to do, especially if both sides can and do agree to a reasonable and relatively Cap friendly deal. Since last season was really the first one, that Fehr delivered on the promise that the Caps felt justified using 1st round pick in the 2003, this ought to be something that can get done sooner rather than later.
3) Trade the Capitals rights to Tomas Fleischmann and trade John Erskine to get something in this summer's NHL Draft. "Flash" had a pretty good year, offensively ... he scored 23 goals and had 28 assists. He also was +9. He's worth something to some teams in the NHL. There are several who need offense. That's really not the Capitals. Further the Caps tried to see if he might be there answer as a second line center - that didn't work. Bottom line is he has talent and he needs ice time to further develop. That said here he should not have gotten the 16:02 ATOI he got, especially during the second half of the season. He needs to be moved to another team where he can get the ice time a top six forward should get but here in DC, he shouldn't get top six forward ice time again any time soon. John Erskine is a solid guy and reasonable #5 - #7 defenseman on many NHL rosters. That said the Capitals don't need a 30 year old guy filling that role and skating over 15 minutes a night when he plays. With John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Patrick McNiel, and others in the system and pipeline, they could use the roster slot as well as the $1.25M of salary cap space wiser. Moving Erskine is the right thing to do from the business perspective that Hockey has become. If that doesn't work they should let him pass through waivers and assign him to Hershey for the start of next season.
4) Resign either Brendan Morrison or Eric Belanger for an average cap hit of $1.75M/year or less and a term of not more than two seasons. At this point I want one of these two guys back. They really are the third line center and they could also play up at second line from time to time. They both have solid puck handling and possession skills and they both seem to be good teammates who work to execute the coaches' game plan. You can't afford both from a roster slot perspective but one of the two back would be a good thing. I'd say the most likely to come back with a Cap friendly deal that the Caps need given I'd be looking to use them as a third line center on a real third line that could score, is Morrison, but who knows, that's just wild ass speculation on my part, and I would indeed be happy with either from what I saw.
5) Sign Joe Corvo to a two or at longest three year deal with a salary cap hit of no more than $3.5M It took a while but by the end of the Montreal series Corvo was in the groove and the Caps had three solid defensive pairs with six guys any one of whom could join the rush and make an impact to differing degrees without putting the defensive end coverage at risk. Corvo was a solid trade deadline pickup and a clear upgrade from Brian Pothier who is likely still recovering form the injury he suffered during the 2008-2009 season. (When will the NHL make the required changes needed to reduce the risk of TBI for real? Seriously.... both the rules on the ice and the equipment needs to change. But I digress.) At $3.5M or less for a two year deal, I believe the 33 year old Corvo is the right guy to transition from Poti to Carlson as the number two minute munching stud here in Washington.
6) Sign Milan Jurcina to a one or two year deal with a Cap Hit of between $1.25 and $1.5M/year. I'd use Jurcina as the #5 - #7 guy on the Caps Blue line. I think he has more potential than some of the other choices and his price is more cap friendly.
7) I've said this before but I'll say it again as my final "if I were GMGM" pronouncement - see if I could sign either Jose Theodore or Dan Ellis to a one or two year deal for an average cap hit of $2.5M or less.
Assuming the "me in GMGM's skin/head did the aforementioned 7 items. Then since I can magically take over minds and bodies of NHL team staff members, I'd next take over Gabby's body and open the next season with a lineup as follows:
1st line: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble
2nd line: Semin - Laich - Fehr
3rd line: Alexandre Giroux - Morrisonn/Fehr - Chimera
4th line: Steckel - Mathieu Perreault - Bradley
Reserve: Jay Beagle, Quintin Laing, Kyle Wilson
1st pairing: Green - Schultz
2nd pairing: Poti - Carlson
3rd pairing: Corvo - Alzner
Reserve: Milan Jurcina, Tyler Sloan, Patrick McNeill
Jose Theodore or Dan Ellis
Reserves: Michal Neuvirth, Braden Holtby.
Through the season here's what I try and do if I'm Bourdreau:
1) Figure out which of Varlamov, Neuvirth or Holtby is indeed "the goaltender of the future." Sorry Varly but I think it's still a long way from decided and that's as it should be given the young ages of all three of the contenders for the title.
2) Work hard to figure out who of Alzner or Carlson is really ready to step into Tom Poti's ATOI of 21+ minutes a night once Corvo's gone at the end of the 2011-2012 season and start working them towards that goal the second half of the season so at the end of this season we can free up Poti's cap space to use to resign Alzner or a replacement if he isn't growing into the player we all think he can be.
3) Figure out if Laich as a second line center is the answer there. If he is look to sign him to an extension beyond the end of the season, also if he is and after his deal is done, assuming Semin continues to improve as he has this past season, figure out with GMGM if we can afford to keep him or really how to do that.
4) Through the first 40+ games of the season give more of the guys in Hershey a chance to show their stuff at the NHL level and figure out what to do with the full pipeline in some select positions to get a return and keep being able to replenish it.
So is it September yet? Seriously tonight's games should be fun to watch but I can think of one way that would sure make one of them more fun to me.