Monday, September 01, 2008

Caps Summer Report Card

And you thought we had forgotten about the Caps....

  • So the Caps lived up to the script laid out for them and drafted Anton Gustafson and then came back and got John Carlson in the NHL Draft. It seems rather odd to us to move up not only once but twice to take players in what many are calling the deepest draft in years. We also aren't surprised about the trading of Steve Eminger to Philadelphia. This was a trade that came a few months late and quite frankly, a good move for both teams. Philadelphia needs young defensemen who can move the puck and the Caps needed to get rid of Eminger because it was crystal clear that he wasn't a part of the future plans for this franchise.
  • Let's cut to the chase and say that the Caps overpaid for Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green. Sure, the $5.25 million looks like a steal now and likely will moreso in a couple of years but consider that this seriously hampered our chances of resigning Christobal "WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE" Huet and Sergei (#3) Fedorov this season. We'll talk more about UA later but losing Federov could have hurt big time. Here's the leader that the Caps have been looking for and while we agree that $4 million is way too much, these contracts mean that the Caps have ended up maxing out the salary cap for the first time. Furthermore, Green's $5.25 million price tag from another team would have cost them 4 four first round draft picks. There weren't many teams that could afford to spend that kind of $$$$$ and let go of the picks. For a guy who put up those numbers only once in his career. We better hope that Green wasn't a flash in the pan.
  • As for UA, all the talk of "wanting to remain in Washington" was just that, talk. After the Caps gave him what he had been asking for all along, he decided to hit the market anyway. So, to the Caps took their sweet time in agreeing to UA's demands, why shouldn't they have? And for UA to pull that kind of bait and switch, well, see ya! Plan B wasn't groveling to Olie Kolzig, but to go with Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore. Maybe a little more $$$$$ than we would have liked for a #1 goaltender considering what we're spending elsewhere, but you have to spend the $$$$$ on that position. Two years is a good term as the hopefully the prospects will be ready to step in. If not, wash, rinse, and repeat this whole thing in two summers.
  • As for the departure of UA, well, we don't understanding the wailing and gnashing of teeth here. Some have even gone as far as to have said that the Caps chances at the Stanley Cup in 2008-2009 have gone up in smoke over the departure of UA. Quite frankly, we don't understand that "ideology" one bit. First of all those who are crying about that are beginning with a false premise, that the Caps were Stanley Cup contenders in the first place. Sure, based upon the way the team responded and played after Bruce Boudreau took over and hit the gas pedal is very promising. But now there's almost a full season worth of tape on the Boudreau. His system isn't a secret anymore and the question is, are the Caps good enough to overcome the adjustments other teams will make to play them or will Boudreau have to make adjustments on this own, and will those work? Secondly while everybody was enthralled with UA backstopping the team's seven game winning streak, let us not forget that those seven wins came over four teams that did not make the playoffs. Those wins also included an improbable comeback in Atlanta, a gimmick win over Carolina, and a come from behind overtime win against a Tampa team that finished dead last. What UA did down the stretch for the Caps was that he provided a Caps team that was suffering from the below average goaltending of Olie Kolzig (whom we're about to rip) with average to slightly above average goaltending because once UA faced a playoff team in the playoff themselves, he didn't play as well as he did during the streak. While we certainly are not blaming the first round exit on UA, had Koharski and Devorski not gotten in the way, UA also would not have been the reason we pulled off the comeback. Finally, the CW says that in order to be a real Cup contender, the Caps need consistent scoring from the right wing on their top two lines and a defenseman who makes opposing forwards keep their heads up in the attacking zone. The Caps are hoping that Eric Fehr becomes such a right wing and Captain Chris Clark can come back and stay healthy. As for the blueline, the early reviews on Karl Alzner are good but he won't make anybody forget Scott Stevens along with the fact that he's a rookie and not even guaranteed a spot in DC this year. In short the swap of UA for Theodore is nothing more than a even exchange provided that Theodore provides average goaltending. There's nothing that indicates that he won't.
  • As for the job of George McPhee this summer, well he used the stockpiled cap space this summer to keep the core of the team together. However, little was added and the Caps came very close to letting go of all three players acquired at the deadline last season. What is disturbing to us is not that the Caps are spending the limit of the salary cap space, it is the almost $2 million ($1.967 to be exact) of "dead money" the Caps are spending this season. While only Ben "What A" Clymer (who was bought out) fits the traditional definition; Alexander Semin, A.O., Brooks "and Dunn" Laich, and David Steckel are all costing the Caps more in salary cap space than they are in actual salary this season. Semin leads that bunch with an extra $800,000 cap hit. Throw in dead weight like John "Coaches Pet" Erskine Bowles and Tomas Fleischmann who combine to waste another $1.275 million in salary and cap space and you're looking at the difference between being able to improve the roster without subtracting anybody like we did last year and having to make parallel move just to clear space to make those improvements. The Caps are hardly in cap jail but are going to have to make some decisions in the coming off season with only some $13 million in cap space opening up (before the increase) and 13 free agents to resign.
  • Well, Olie, we hope you enjoy it in Tampa. Though we have to question your decision making process here. You openly signed up to play for a coach who isn't a former goaltender and as we all know how much you despise that. And we of course like how you continue to be the very definition of class by refusing to return phone calls. Maybe you've taken too many pucks to the head because you talk about playing well in Tampa despite a 6-10-1 career mark against the Ning and a 2-4 mark in the playoffs against the same. But seriously, enjoy playing behind a defense where the defenseman have collectively played fewer games than the Caps defensemen (by almost 1,000 games). Maybe you'll realize that retirement isn't such a bad thing because it would certainly be easier than trying to drag that bunch back into the playoffs. You couldn't get the job done here, what makes you think you can do it with another franchise?

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