They say if ain't broke, don't fix it. Well, maybe the Caps' brain trust figured something was broke, because they sure did make the proverbial flurry of moves yesterday. So much of a flurry in fact that I'm still brushing the snow off the front porch.
Just going to briefly go over all the deals one by one then give the overall analysis at the end:
First and probably biggest, we get Roman Hamrlik...$7 million over 2 years. He adds experience and so much more to a formidable D-corps. A valuable addition to the never ending carousel of blueliners that need to be ready for duty come playoff time.
Next up we have Joel Ward, a tenacious winger with bite of a bulldog. Although not quite like the bite of another winger. Four years, $12 million. This guy's a keeper, despite the somewhat steep price.
Another big deal that didn't net a player but left us minus a goalie was the Semyon Varlamov trade. We get back a first round pick next year and a second rounder in either one of the years after that. This one merits its own article, if not to give old Varly a nice sendoff.
A somewhat lesser signing is a homecoming for Potomac's Jeff Halpern. He'll be sporting a different look though as the number 11 he wore has since been retired.
And a latecomer deal, not to mention the headscratcher of them all-- Goalie Tomas Vokoun signs for $1.5 million for a year. At least we know what he can do, and it's going to be much more than riding the bench and/or doing rehab.
By the way, Varly's short but interesting stint here deserves its own article as far as I'm concerned so you will see one eventually.
Okay, so what do all these deals mean? More of that wonderful math concept of subtraction by addition. This has been taken care of to some extent--we lost Boyd Gordon to the
Hamrlik's arrival also means that Scott Hannan is the odd man out in the D-corps, because there's no way in hell they let Karl Alzner go without a fight. Just so everyone knows I'm saying that and not the General Manager.
The biggest loss I can see here is Boyd Gordon's faceoff ability. It is indeed becoming a lost art as we've now traded away two centers who displayed considerable skill in that area.. But as we've all learned, it's about putting the puck in the net, something than can be done without winning a faceoff. Oft-injured
as he was, I kind of hated to see Varly go--he had that flashiness about him that made him fun to watch.
Most of these I've already mentioned--Vokoun adds instant goalie cred to a team that is considered shaky in that area--little wonder why McPhee took the deal when the opportunity came up. I really like Joel Ward and what he can do. Given the Bruce's penchant for juggling, you just might see him on OV's or Semin's opposite wing--wouldn't THAT be a sight? Hamrlik is basically an older and hopefully much wiser Mike Green. I might be stretching that a bit, I know. Halpern adds veteran depth down the middle and perhaps can take some of those key draws Gordon used to do. We even get something for the future--a potential top 10 draft pick for next year.
BUT...the biggest question of all is this: What, if anything, is to be done about current FAs Jason Arnott and Troy Brouwer? Personally I don't want to see either one of them go because they're both a good fit for the playoff style hockey this team needs to start being used to playing. Only thing is, the Caps have spent almost as much as Congress in the last couple of days. As a result, they are now a coin's throw away from the cap ceiling with barely a half million to spend. So unless either one of these guys feels like taking a huge pay cut or another trade is made, they're gone. One assertion is that the new Winnipeg Jets would make a play for Arnott. Can't blame them but, yikes to have to play him six times a year and then perhaps the playoffs? While I do like Joel Ward, this makes the Troy Brouwer signing a lot less sense. Not to mention it's never easy to justify $3 million a year for a plugger, even if he is one of the best. Maybe this is just a classic case of stocking the fridge until it's about to burst open? Perhaps Tom Poti's poor health can provide an extra icebox and they can keep both. That would give the team 15 forwards..logjam anyone? DJ King, get to know the pressbox very well...again.
Well, when did spending money in Washington DC make much sense anyway, huh?
PS, Happy Canada Day (late) to my friends north of the 49th!