Roundtable: Buy, Sell or Stand Pat?

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Posted March 31, 2013
Mike Ribeiro

Oh Mike Ribeiro, what will become of you? Photo by Caps Outsider

Ryan Cooper (@rfcapsmoustache)
Count me as pretty firmly in the “sell” camp. This is not a good hockey team, or rather, it’s not consistently good enough to beat teams that aren’t in its own division. They are 3-9-1 vs. the Atlantic Division, 3-5 vs. the Northeast, and 9-3 against the Southeast (Editor’s note: stats were accurate at the time of the writing). As I write this, the Jets are up 7 points on the Capitals with 15 to play. Barring an epic collapse, they aren’t catching them, which leaves only the 8th spot attainable. There’s just too many teams to climb and too many points being awarded every night to somebody. Is not selling worth an extra two home games against Pittsburgh? I don’t believe it is.

What I expect to happen, though, is the team will stand pat and do nothing except for a couple of minor moves, because that is what always seems to happen with the current administration, and they’ll finish in 9th or 10th, just far enough out of the lottery to attain a really good player, but not close enough to obtain a potentially great one (unless someone in front of them does something stupid…hi Calgary!). Everyone (including me) has spent tons of ink and breath over Mike Ribeiro, so I won’t go over that again, but I do feel the Caps could get some decent value for a guy like Matt Hendricks, and they might have gotten something nice for Eric Fehr if he hadn’t been injured.

I do have this weird feeling that if they do defy all logic and common sense to actually make the playoffs that they’ll go on an epic 1990 Minnesota North Stars-type run and make the Stanley Cup Finals, because of course they will.

Ben Sumner (@benjaminsumner)
We already know the future of the Washington Capitals. Their names are Evgeny KuznetsovRiley Barber, Tom Wilson, Filip Forsberg and Philipp Grubauer (not to mention guys like Ovi, Backstrom, Laich, Ward, Brouwer, Carlson, Green, and Beagle). Best case scenario, each of these prospects takes up a roster spot and contributes to the Caps for years to come. But that comes later. This is about now.

When the Caps were down 3-1 against Buffalo going into the third period the other night, I still believed the Caps could win that game – and they did. And though they didn’t beat Philadelphia on Sunday, they were fully capable of it – sometimes losses like that happen.

But this is the worst Caps team in six years! I hear. And? They’re still in the playoff hunt. As we’ve seen, once in the playoffs, anything can happen (relatively speaking, of course). But they’re not Cup contenders! I hear. So what then, the Caps should stop trying? Would love to see the Verizon Center crowd when that becomes apparent.

I haven’t been in the ‘give up’ dingy since 2003-4 and I’m not about to jump ship now, especially when they’re currently in the same position as 2008. Plus, they’re not going to keep losing in order to get a shot at a top three pick (though I would love to see Seth Jones in a Caps uniform, it simply won’t happen). And unless they’re offered someone who can contribute now in exchange for Ribeiro, moving him won’t help the Caps down the stretch.

I don’t believe McPhee will force anything radical at the trade deadline. If anything, he’s more likely to pull a rabbit out of his hat, like when he got a first round pick for Semyon Varlamov, or got Tomas Vokoun for practically nothing. I’m going to stay positive and believe that the Caps will make the playoffs with this current roster, unless a can’t-miss opportunity presents itself at the trade deadline.

Jeffrey Kleiman (@JeffreyKleiman)
This trade deadline is going to be one of the tougher weeks in George McPhee’s tenure as general manager. As Ed Frankovic points out in his article on Wednesday, the Capitals find themselves in a position where they’re not good enough to make the playoffs, yet they’re too good for a top three pick in the upcoming draft. The current incarnation of this team is not going to bring home a Stanley Cup, so the best thing to do is to be major sellers at the deadline and start building for 2-3 years down the road.

This starts with Ribeiro, who will command a deal worth much more than the Capitals can afford. While this would leave a hole at the pivot on the second line, it’s a problem that could’ve been easily avoided had the Capitals claimed Jussi Jokinen off waivers from Carolina. With the salary cap decreasing to $64.4 million next year, the Capitals will need to be creative in order to resign key free agents such as Karl Alzner, Hendricks, and Tomas Kundratek. The end game here should be that when Filip Forsberg and Evgeny Kuznetsov are ready to make the transition to full-time North American duty it should be enough to push the organization to their first Stanley Cup in team history.

Daniel Hayden (@WTPCoachDan)
Neither and both. Where the team is at right now, they need more than just the deadline to fix their problems. They lack a top line left wing and a goal scoring second line winger. If they have the opportunity to sell players they may look to use their two Compliance Buyouts on, they should go for it. Sell Ribeiro if they cannot come to an agreement on a contract before Wednesday. However, if the opportunity arises to buy a top line winger to play with Ovechkin and Backstrom for more than just a season, they should go for it. Other than that, this likely is not their year, but don’t sell top talent because of it.

Ben Sumner
Ben Sumner is the editor of Capitals Outsider and a contributor for Gunaxin.com. He also works for The Washington Post and contributes there when he gets a scoop.
Ben Sumner

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