Are changes coming for the Washington Capitals?
Preparing Your Child for the Trade Deadline
As Tarik El-Bashir recently illustrated, hockey has picked up exponentially in the past few years, especially with the children. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom obviously top the list of favorite players, but it would be naive to think that some fifth-grader out in the D.C. area doesn’t watch John Erskine and think, “Man do I wanna be just like him!” (Other thoughts fifth-graders have: “By-gee golly, that Tommy Turner is such a card!”)
The sad truth about these fans is relived every February, when NHL GMs start shuffling the cards. For the Erskine fan who has finally been able to stick it to all the Mike Green kids, this can prove to be a traumatic time.
As a parent (or someone in close legal proximity to a child), you have an obligation to help them through this trying time. And as a former Girl Scout, I know enough about raising children to tell you how to do it.
Calm them about Columbus
Should the Caps make a blockbuster trade, it will probably be for the $5 million-annually Jeff Carter or $7.8 million Rick Nash. Either one alone would necessitate a salary dump, which would most simply come in the form of $6.7 million Alex Semin.
The winger’s attitude and at-times lazy/inconsistent play has ruffled some jerseys in the area, but just in time for the deadline the #filthy Russian has picked up his play, with 4 goals and 9 points in his last eight games.
Being the captain’s favorite also comes with certain privileges, including possible trade protection. With his recent success and the fact that Carter’s contract kicks into no-trade after this and Nash’s goes into 2018, the possibility of Semin leaving has significantly diminished.
So when your child comes crying to you about that big man talking bad about Semin, just remind them that while he may not have a heart, at least he isn’t slowly losing his soul.
Explain the Animal Planet Rule: The youngest and oldest always go first
The worst thing 32-year-old Jason Chimera could have done in terms of staying power is heat up early in the season and drop off towards the middle. Mike Knuble‘s assertive presence is an important factor in a locker room setting, but not scoring since December 5, going pointless from January 3 to February 17, and turning into a healthy scratch on February 9 started to outweigh his positives.
And while Mathieu Perreault has lit up since getting top minutes since Nicklas Backstrom got concussed, his reputation for inconsistency and iffy decision-making makes him a tradable asset.
In his time on the national stage Cody Eakin has demonstrated that he has a blazing future (see what I did there?) ahead of him, and in a deal for a solid veteran center, he could end up on the board.
Ask them WWYGFASVC? (What would you give for solid veteran center?)
Should George McPhee be looking for the Cup this year, Eakin or Perreault could be on their way out. But giving up a center for another center isn’t entirely logical. That being said, Backstrom’s return could be a long way off, and with the Caps on the playoff bubble, something’s got to be done to firm up the middle.
This would probably come in the form of a packaged trade, with picks and/or multiple players if only because McPhee is not looking to replace Backstrom, but find someone that could actually help the team in the long-term.
On the fense, defence
It’s rather doubtful that the organization will blow up, especially in the middle of the season, but many think a good place to start would be with Mike Green. Fortunately for him, being off the ice also means being off the trade block.
The same does not go for the likes of Jeff Schultz, Erskine, and Roman Hamrlik. Schultz has self-professed confidence issues, Erskine has been quietly scratched for seven of the last eight games, and Hamrlik is coming up average.
With limited cap space and defensive stars in place, the smartest move would be to go for a low-rent defenseman. With Columbus in free fall, and scouts showing up at each team’s games, a good move might be in the works for someone like Grant Clitsome (if your child asks what a Clitsome is, you’re on your own)–though with a significant portion of the Blue Jackets’ defense injured it could be harder to pry a promising defenseman from their organization.