As free agency kicked off yesterday, only one guy fit in the Capitals salary cap and locker room structures, can get to the net, and, here's the kicker, was listed by yours truly as the Capitals' likely number one free agent target.
That's right, sometimes I even amaze myself. In signing Mike Knuble to a two year deal for $5.6 million – 10% more than what Viktor Kozlov (the skater he will replace) had been making and Knuble's salary last year with the rival Flyers – the Capitals have filled a gaping hole and hurt a conference rival. The signing has been pretty much universally applauded and gives Washington the gnarliest PP1 unit I can remember.
The pessimist will point out that the Caps haven't addressed their need for a second-line center, but it sounds like they expect Laich to fill that role creating a hole on the third line wing if Clark or Fehr falter. You can fill a hole at wing on your third line with a callup from Hershey, but not at second-line center. And this is expecting next to nothing out of Nylander, who could conceivably play second-line center and truly give the lines a boost. No one around the organization is bemoaning the loss of Brashear, as Matt Bradley has shown he's willing to… maybe not fill the role but at least be the sacrificial lamb when necessary. My guess is that they offered Brashear a one year deal for $1 million. After losing Colton Orr to Toronto to ludicrous money ($8 million for six years would be eye popping, for four it's irresponsible), the Rangers gave Brashear a $200,000 raise over what he made last year to protect the fragile Marion Gaborik.
As I've explained before, Washington is basically stuck with who they've got at defence. Signing someone to block John Carlson's ascent to the big club would be myopic with Semin's and Backstrom's contracts expiring after this coming season. They've made qualifying offers to their significant restricted free agents besides Daren Machesney and Sasha Pokulok (McPhee's biggest draft bust) giving them eight defencemen, not counting Tyler Sloan or Carlson, so they've already got a logjam. The Caps are set at goalie unless they trade Theodore, for whom there are no obvious destinations.
World of Wardraft
This was the least important draft for Washington in years, so it was incredibly difficult to work up any enthusiasm for it. The Capitals took Marcus Johansson in the first round, the eighth ranked Swede by Central Scouting. After feeling a little disappointed that New Jersey had swooped in from one pick in front to take Jacob Josefson, the third ranked Swede, I calmed down when I saw this highlight package. When the analysts hammer home the fact that he's a steady player that isn't flashy, and then you string together 90 seconds of that player being flashy, I'm intrigued. Johansson was considered a reach by about 10 picks, but Bob McKenzie made the point that there wasn't much of a dropoff from 15-45, so it wasn't much of a reach. The unbelievably unreliable Hockeybuzz thinks McPhee was talking trade with Boston, and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for this one. Here's an interesting video of McPhee talking trade with Boston at the draft when they took Backstrom; he's a sly one that McPhee.
Dmitri Orlov and Cody Eakin seemed to be slotted about a round before each of them were picked. Eaton was the highest Canadian forward Washington has drafted since they took Francois Bouchard in the 2nd in 2006. He was also the only Washington draft pick interviewed during the draft broadcast, as well as the only one featured in any highlights! I watching eight damn hours of Canadian High School Musical 4 and all I get outside of Eakin is Johansson trying to beat out an icing?!? Not cool Canada, not cool.
About the Author
Written by Ryan Cleaver
Ryan Cleaver was born in Björk’s house in Iceland and grew up on Easter Island, where his parents were giant stone heads. He has the ability to fire beams of tacos out of his hands and he can turn his legs into tigers. On Sundays, Ryan enjoys reading Family Circus and traveling through time. His favorite color is greenish-transparent and his favorite movie is the one you just watched.