Martin Erat, thanks for that one goal this season. (Caps Outsider)
Like my good friend Ricky van Shelton, I am a simple man in regards to the trade deadline. Just don’t do anything really stupid to cripple the franchise for a million years (here’s where the internet Snarky McSnarkertons register their complaints about last year’s Erat trade; more on that later), and standing pat is always preferable to the former. So count me as “pleasantly surprised” by this year’s deadline. I have a fairly good notion that the Capitals will not be contending for a Stanley Cup this season, so it’s really good in retrospect that they didn’t trade any significant piece to furtively chase one. Here are some quick #hottakes on the moves by the Capitals the last few days.
The Dustin Penner trade: Works for me in several ways. There’s no long-term commitment to him, so if he stinks, he walks in the summer, or if you can’t reach an extension with him, sell him at the draft (this also applies to Buffalo Sabres Legend Jaroslav Halak). Beyond the fact that no significant assets went to acquire him, he’ll add scoring to the top six, which is desperately needed because literally no one scores there except Alex Ovechkin, and the added benefit of being a relatively large human also helps. He’s also funny on Twitter, which doesn’t really mean anything, but is always nice to have. I rate this a Good Deal.
The Marty Erat trade: Without bringing up the same old arguments about the Forsberg Trade again, this is a move that had to be made. Erat had made it clear he wanted out, and with the restrictions the Caps had to deal with, namely his No-Movement Clause and his cap hit this season and next, it’s fairly astounding they got anything they could use for him. Maybe Chris Brown pans out, and maybe he doesn’t, but anything on that end is a bonus. Rostislav Klesla, who I’m assuming ended up in the trade to make the numbers work (because the Caps could have had him for free when Phoenix waived him a while back) ends up being essentially a paper transaction that gets flipped for Jaroslav Halak.
I rate this on two levels: Good Deal for getting rid of an expensive malcontent that wanted out. Bad Deal in terms of asset management. I don’t think Erat was ever really used properly by the coaching staff, and “how do you think you can use this guy” is probably something someone should have asked them about before the deal was made, because burying him on the 4th line, attempting to use him as a center, and eating nachos in the press box is probably not the best use of a guy you traded a significant prospect for.
The Jaroslav Halak trade: Love it, if only because the Caps avoided doing something really stupid, like trading for Martin Brodeur’s Ghost or Tim Thomas or Ryan Miller. Having resigned myself to the fact that they were unnecessarily going to trade for a goaltender, getting Halak for Michal Neuvirth (the Poor Man’s Ondrej Pavelec) was exactly the move to make and gives you all sorts of options when the season ends. Maybe you sign Halak to a short-term deal to back up Braden Holtby while Philipp Grubauer gets seasoning in the salt-and-pepper league? Maybe you let him roll at the draft or as a UFA if you think Grubauer’s ready for the big show? Maybe he pulls off a Huet-like run and helps the team into the playoffs? At any rate, I give this a Good Deal.
Moves not made: The Caps are still thin at left-shooting defenseman, but Alzner/Hillen/Orlov isn’t all that bad (and it leaves John Erskine on the bench). But really, what defenseman could they have acquired that moved today? Pretty sure they couldn’t have afforded Andrej Meszaros. Chris Phillips? Meh. Mark Stuart? Double meh. I would have liked Marcel Goc as an option at 3/4 center. Other than that, they shouldn’t have really been in play for any of the big names that went today.
So this was a pretty good deadline day. Will it translate into a playoff berth? I have my doubts because the team still has a defense leakier than my sink, but we’ll see.