Caps Offseason too Quiet
By: Dave Eddy
July 6, 2010
Following a disappointing showing in this spring’s Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals figured to be in the market for a couple of specific pieces to bolster their chances next spring.
While signing Nicklas Backstrom to a 10-year $67M contract extension was a necessary step in maintaining the long-term competitiveness of the team, it does not address a few significant deficiencies in the Capitals overall lineup. Specifically, these include the need for a physical defenseman, a solid second-line center and another physical forward.
The Capitals currently have committed $47M of the $59M projected salary cap for the 2010-2011 season, but still have restricted free agents Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleischmann and Jeff Schultz who have requested salary arbitration. Their arbitration hearings will not take place until sometime between July 20th and August 4th, meaning that the Caps will have to wait until early August before they can pursue any of the remaining players such as physical defensemen Willie Mitchell or Andy Sutton.
The Caps are obviously counting on defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner to play full-time next season, along with Mike Green, Schultz, Tom Poti, John Erskine, and Tyler Sloan. Other than Erskine, who often is scratched from the lineup by coach Bruce Boudreau, that’s not exactly a group that prefers to mix it up and do a lot of dirty work. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New Jersey loaded up on defensemen, obviously in an attempt to keep the Capitals, the highest scoring team in the NHL last year, in check.
With Alexander Semin due to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2010-2011 season, it is certainly reasonable to expect that Semin may be used at some point next season as part of a trade to bring a defenseman who can move people out from in front of the net.