By now it can be assumed that anyone who gives a whit about the Capitals knows about today's trade.
Welcome, Scott Hannan, to the Washington Capitals hockey team.
May I say that it is about damn time!
Now before we get too far into the analysis, I have to rate this act from GM (X2) an A+ and a home run. Why? Because the General Manager isn't prone to making deals when he feels his hand is forced. Yet he knew all along that, despite expressing confidence in the defense, depth would be an increasing concern. We as Caps fans have seen that concern magnified by the rash of injuries that have plagued them this year. While the team has managed to keep on winning, one had to wonder when things would start to change. I say they changed early last week with that 3-game slide where the team played like dog food on the road and got blown out twice.
Mr. McPhee may have seen that as the 1,000-volt lamp turned on in a dark room. Then again, he may have had a deal planned all along. Rumors at first swirled about a deal for Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa. Regardless of how it happened or who we got, the point is that, for once, McPhee decided to act instead of either standing pat or making a hasty deadline deal and for that he deserves praise. He could have easily have waited until the trade deadline, but knew the time was ripe for a change.
With every good trade, however, there's always a down side--what you have to give up. What the Caps gave up (some would say gave up on) was a potential second-line scoring threat. Admittedly at times Fleischmann was more potential than threat. But he did show more than just a flash (pun intended) of brilliance from the second line. Don't forget the game winner he potted in overtime against the Thrashers this season. But really, all we're left to wonder is what could have been. In his three-plus seasons with the Caps, we've seen the best and worst of that potential. He was even benched for a game and that may have been the last straw. However, you're always afraid that what you give away will come back to bite you. At least he will be in the Western Conference for the balance of the season. I, for one, wish him the best.
Now for the upside. Scott Hannan is only a known commodity among fans who follow the entire NHL and scout every player. Well, here at the Power Play Point blog, we only try to give the big picture. Hannan is a veteran of over 750 NHL games with both the Avalanche and the San Jose Sharks. So he's experienced--always a good thing. In his 10-plus years in the league, after his first season, he has missed at most 7 games in one season. So he's durable--definitely a good thing given the situation. Best of all--in all those seasons he has only finished a minus player twice. So he knows how to keep his own end clean. Sounds like a good match to me.
The only possible dark cloud in this forecast is the decreased ability for the Caps to make a move come deadline time. Scott Hannan's cap-hit is $4.5 million, nearly $2 million more than Fleischmann's cost. But then, perhaps there will be no move come that time of the year. As with most things in hockey and life, time will tell. For a more in-depth analysis of the cap-hit cost of the trade, go here.
I can't get over the timing of the trade. It couldn't be more perfect. It's not too soon in the season, so it doesn't give off a sense of panic. And it's not too late in the year, so the new acquisition has time to get used to how things are done on the team. Perhaps McPhee has learned his lessons after playing near the fires that can be deadline deals. In 2008, he scored big with Cristobal Huet. In 2009, he stood pat and was crucified for it. So last year, he dealt again and got: one injured defenseman (Milan Jurcina), one aging forward (Scott Walker), and one totally useless defenseman (Joe Corvo). And we all know what happened with the other player that was acquired. We need not go there.
I can't wait to see how Hannan makes an impact on the team. Or what Bob Woods plans are for his use. In any case, the Caps' chances for the Cup just got that much better.