So as those of you who regularly read this blog, my feelings have been that if I were Caps GM George McPhee the UFA Defender I'd go after is Dan Hamhuis, formerly of the Nashville Predators. On Saturday the Nashville Predators traded two veterans for lesser talents and draft choices - Dan Hamhuis to the Flyers for Ryan Parent and a 7th round pick and Jason Arnott for Matt Halischuck and a second round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft. Of course the Arnott trade netted the Predators more since he has a full season left on contract while essentially the Preds and the Flyers swapped negotiating rights for Parent who will be a RFA and Hamhuis who will be an UFA on July 1st. That said, if the quotes of Hamhuis are correct and accurate in the TSN article on the trade (preceding link), then it is entirely possible the Flyers traded a 23 year prospect with a shaky back for a true blue chip, proven NHL blue liner. The question I have is does the trade really make sense for Philly? Will they be able to afford to sign Hamhuis and if so how will they fit him under the cap this upcoming season and still address their other issues under the cap.
First let me say, I don't think Philly's blue line is why they lost to Chicago in the finals. As with most others, I find it pretty amazing that the two teams who played in the Stanley Cup Finals this year had solid, but not spectacular goal-tending, though perhaps that is a sign the new/post-lockout NHL is starting to affect the Stanley Cup and the quest for it more than previously felt. I also felt the Flyers could use some more guys up front more like Mike Richards and less like Danny Briere. While Briere had an amazing post-season in the end I felt Chicago was able to overpower him when it counted most - the final two games of the series. Also let's not forget Ville Lieno had a great post season. Blair Betts hasn't had a bad year or post season either. The fact that Lieno is signed this coming season for $800K and Betts for the next two at $700K, along with the fact that Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyke are both still on their entry level contracts helps and probably means the Flyers can afford to sign Hamhuis to a deal as long as he doesn't command a Cap hit of more than ~$4.5M per season, however signing him at that sort of number definitely will likely mean the #5 & #6 defensemen for the Flyers for each of the next two seasons will need to be entry level guys, and it also probably means that Flyers GM Paul Holmgren is counting on picking up a solid number one (#1) netminder at a bit of a bargain thanks to this year's glutted UFA market for goalies.
Color me disappointed - understanding but still disappointed, I had hoped that the Capitals could and would pick up Hamhuis at a reasonable price ($4M or so) now with this move I think it would take between $4.5 and $5M. I'd still rather have Hamhuis at that price than Volchenkov - I think Dan Hamhuis would be a FAR better fit in the Capitals system then Volchenckov ever would. However, at these sorts of numbers you do have to really look around and think through all the options. I feel with Alzner and Carlson ready and coming up, the Caps have a solid ability to strengthen their blue line this year but I do feel upgrading from Shaone Morrisonn to a guy like Dan Hamhuis would be a slam dunk, that said it's clear from the moves made to bring Hamhuis and his rights to Philly, my thoughts as to what price he'll be looking for/commanding was low.
Is it September yet?
LETS GO CAPS!!!