I believe in the power of numbers, in tangibles over intangibles. And when looking at the tangibles, Washington crushed Columbus in their trade like they were an SEC team playing the Buckeyes on New Year's Day. They are unquestionably in better salary cap shape. They gave up a guy who's been a healthy scratch in five of his last eight games and a fourth liner for a second (!) liner.
And in terms of how it affects the team going forward, they clear a path for one of their two blue chip defensemen (Alzner and Carlson) and have a little more roster flexibility because it was a tad awkward to scratch a healthy captain from their lineup. But the biggest ripple may not be felt for months: the Caps are now about four million dollars under the salary cap and could be buyers in a few months when Ilya Kovalchuk and Scott Niedermeyer should be on the market.
On the other hand, there's a very big reason to not to make the trade: it's pretty scary to mess with your locker room when you're winning, and they traded their captain less than 48 hours after beating the Devils and moving into first place in the conference. You've got to be in the locker room to know Clark and Jurcina's off-ice contributions, but it's easy to envision the naming of a new captain being a distraction. Ovechkin, Laich, and Knuble are the candidates. If you believe that the club wants to make Ovechkin captain at some point in his career, than take Laich out of the mix – Knuble would make a better bridge if Ovechkin isn't ready right now. It's also been mentioned that Chimera instigated the scrum where Ovie hurt his shoulder this year, although Jared Boll actually laid the hit. It doesn't sound like it will be a problem though.
Miscellaneous: Semin signed a one year extension, making him an unrestricted free agent after next season and leaving Backstrom as their only core guy not signed through next season. The contract seems a bit risky for Semin, but his agent has a history of rolling the dice, most notably with Darius Kasparaitis… Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty over Mike Green for Team Canada? What's up with that?
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.