Developing Defensemen

Judging by the wrath of the message board mavens, the Washington Capitals should be about ready to kick defenseman Steve Eminger to the curb. Why? Maybe because at the age of 23, Eminger is greying at the temples and should be 86ed in favor of younger prospects with more upside. Maybe because after parts of four NHL seasons he should already be an NHL All-Star. Maybe because with fewer than 200 games played in the NHL, it is already plain to see that there’s no way he’ll ever play another 200.

Take your pick. Me, I think it would be a mistake to get rid of Eminger unless he is traded in a deal where the return is too good to refuse. And if that happens, it won’t be an unprecedented event. Plenty of defensemen chosen in the top 30 have been cut loose by their original NHL organizations with fewer games played than Eminger, only to go on to long and prosperous NHL careers elsewhere.

Stephane Quintal, Bryan Marchment, Kevin Haller, Drake Berehowsky, Karl Dykhuis, Jiri Slegr, Aaron Ward, Philippe Boucher, Jassen Cullimore, Sandis Ozolinsh, Jason Smith, Boris Mironov, Chris Pronger, Oleg Tverdovsky, Bryan Berard, Wade Redden, Cory Sarich, Robyn Regehr were all top 30 choices who moved on and went on to play (or will play) more than 500 games in the league. Others like Branislav Mezei, Ron Hainsey, Shaone Morrisonn, Tim Gleason, Lukas Krajicek, and Keith Ballard are decent bets to join that list.

Eminger was chosen 12th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Over the years, plenty of defensemen have been chosen in the top 30 (there are 30 choices in the first round of the draft these days). Some have panned out well, some not at all and, as noted above, others have panned out well after having been traded by the team that originally drafted them. From 1987 through 2002 (that’s 16 Entry Drafts) a total of 161 defensemen have been chosen in the top 30 selections of the draft. With 190 NHL games played, Eminger has already played more contests in the league than more than one-third of those 161 blueliners. If he can play another season of say, 70 games next season, he’ll have half the careers of those 161 beat. Assuming of course, that the likes of John Slaney and Mathieu Biron don’t resurface in the NHL for another cup of coffee or so.

I guess because it has been almost five years since he was drafted, that it seems to some like Eminger has been here forever and that he’s an utter and abject failure as an NHL defenseman. People forget that he was 18 when he was drafted, and that he is still just a kid.

Has he had his ups and downs? Absolutely. Does he have issues with consistency? Sure. Have the Caps done their absolute best by him in terms of coaching, development, etc.? Tough question, and one that I’m not qualified to answer.

Here’s an idea, though. Get a veteran lefty-shooting defenseman and make him Eminger’s partner. It may be my imagination (but I don’t think so), but I believe Eminger has played his best hockey when paired with lefty-shooting vets like Calle Johansson and Brendan Witt. I’m not sure why Eminger should be expected to develop into a reliable 20-minute a night defenseman while playing alongside the likes of defenseman-turned-forward-turned-defenseman-with-a-sports-hernia-turned-forward-again Ben Clymer. Or John Erskine, who has played fewer NHL games than Eminger. Or Mike Green, who was drafted two years later and is two years younger. And those are just a few of the partners he’s had this year.

To me, Eminger has the physical tools needed for the job. He has good size, he skates well, has a decent enough shot, he’s smart enough, and can move the puck. He has his ups and he has his downs. I talked to a couple former NHL defensemen about Eminger, and they both agreed he would benefit from playing with a partner with 500 games or so of NHL experience. They’d know better than I.

We all know it takes defensemen a little bit longer to develop, but how long? Depends on some of the variables, I believe.

When the Bruins were looking to develop Kyle McLaren and Hal Gill, they paired them with Raymond Bourque. The Caps don’t have Raymond Bourque, or anyone of his ilk (who does?), but most teams pair a kid with a vet if they want results. Wonder why San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic is a plus-15 with 26 points while playing 22 minutes a night (more than any other rookie defenseman in the league) as a teenager (he turned 20 last week) in this league? Look across the ice. There’s Scott Hannan.

San Jose has another rookie defenseman, 22-year-old Matt Carle. He has 11 goals, 41 points and is plus-7 while playing nearly 19 minutes a night. Carle’s partner is Craig Rivet, a veteran of nearly 700 regular season NHL games. Not for nothing, but if you subtract power play scoring, Eminger has more points (16) than both Carle (15) and Vlasic (14). Sheldon Souray is going to make a boatload of cash this summer, but his minus-24 is far worse than Eminger’s minus-14, and they both have the same number of even-strength plus shorthanded points. Eminger is averaging nine seconds per game in power play ice time and 15:22 at even strength. Souray is playing 15:20 of even-strength hockey a night.

Eminger’s job title indicates that his primary responsibility is to keep the other team from scoring. But he has always been thought of as a guy who would evolve into a solid two-way blueliner in the Johansson mold. And to me, Eminger has evolved some. Despite seeing his ice time dwindle by about 10 percent this season, he has actually upped his even-strength plus shorthanded scoring. The talent is there.

Not too long ago, the Caps developed a couple of pretty fair (if vastly different) NHL defensemen who, like Eminger, were chosen in the middle of the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. Washington chose Sergei Gonchar with the 14th choice in the 1992 draft and Brendan Witt 11th overall in 1993. Like Eminger, both Gonchar and Witt received some minor league seasoning before making the NHL for good. Gonchar played 61 games and Witt 30 at the AHL level. Eminger played 103, a figure that might have been inflated by the season-long NHL lockout in 2004-05.

What’s the biggest difference between the development of Gonchar and Witt and that of Eminger? Joe Reekie and Johansson. Rather than pairing Gonchar and Witt with one another, the Caps put Gonchar with Reekie and Witt with Johansson. And for the most part, they left them like that. For good measure, the Caps also had the luxury of other veteran blueliners such as Sylvain Cote and Mark Tinordi in those days.

Hindsight is 20/20, but a signing a guy like Sean Hill last summer might have had a positive influence on some of the Caps’ young defensemen this season. It’s tough to bring along young blueliners when your most experienced NHL defenseman (Bryan Muir, 277 games) is frequently a healthy scratch and your second most experienced blueliner (Brian Pothier, 252 games) is in just his third full NHL season himself.

It’s hard (if not impossible) to develop an entire backline full of kids at the same time. Aside from the Caps, the two youngest NHL blueline corps in terms of NHL game experience are those of San Jose (see above) and Nashville. The Preds are an interesting case study. Only two teams in the entire NHL have no defenseman averaging more than 22 minutes a night. The Hurricanes are one of them (hell, Carolina has no defenseman averaging as many as 20 minutes a night, because the Canes often dress seven defenesemen), and Nashville is the other.

Kimmo Timonen (slated to achieve unrestricted free agency status this summer) leads the Preds with 21:50 a night. He is also the greybeard of the Nashville blueliners, with 571 games played, plus a few years pro in his native Finland. The Predators also have 30-year-old Marek Zidlicky, who, although he has just 226 games worth of NHL experience, played five seasons pro in his native Czech Republic.

Beyond those two, the Preds have a trio of highly prized young defensemen they’ve drafted and are in the process of developing. Nashville drafted Dan Hamhuis in the same slot the Caps grabbed Eminger (12th), but did so a year earlier (2001). Hamhuis is now in his third full season of NHL duty. The other two are both 2003 draftees: Ryan Suter (chosen seventh overall) and Shea Weber (49th). Suter is in his second full season in the league and Weber his first, although the latter did get a 28-game taste last season.

Early in the season, the Preds had rookie Greg Zanon (a fifth-round Ottawa choice in 2000) as their sixth defenseman. Zanon had played three seasons worth of AHL hockey. Just before the trade deadline, Nashville brought in veteran Vitaly Vishnevski in a deal with Atlanta. The interesting thing is that Zanon averages 17:11 this season while Vishnevski has skated only 10 minutes a night with Nashville after averaging 19 minutes a tilt with the Thrashers.

Pair righties with lefties. Offensive guys with stay-at-homers. Vets with kids. These have long been the tenets of building solid defensive pairs, and these are time-proven tactics that help young defensemen grow and develop, if they are good enough to grow and develop at this level. The Caps have gotten away from some of these in recent seasons. Doing so may ultimately be harming the development of players like Eminger and Green. Ask Green sometime about how helpful it was playing with the likes of seasoned pros Mark Wotton, Lawrence Nycholat and Dean Arsene during his time with the Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears last season.

Time will ultimately tell, as it always does. But let’s just hope that a team that has been crying for quality defensemen for a few seasons now does not get in the habit of letting good ones get away only to flourish elsewhere.

I’m not a scout or a coach, and I never will be a scout or a coach. But I am one of those people (and there don’t seem to be many of us) who still believes that Eminger is going to be a good NHL defenseman for several seasons to come.

The only question is where.

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32 Comments on “Developing Defensemen”

  1. J.P. Says:

    Great stuff, Vogs. This post should be required reading before people can get message board access.


  2. While nobody likes to lose, I don’t get the impatience with a kid like Eminger. Developing talent in hockey is a lot like developing talent in baseball — unless you’ve got a transcendent talent on your hands, things just can’t be rushed.

    Two more names to think about: Eric Brewer and Bryan McCabe, both cast adrift by the Islanders, and now both solid night in night out contributors averaging better than 20 minutes of ice time per game.

  3. dumpnchase Says:

    J.P.,
    I guess I understand what message boards can provide in the way of community and something “viral.” But viral is not always good. I definitely understand the viewpoint of those teams that have 86ed message boards, too. It’s the equivalent of supplying guns and bullets and encouraging the masses to shoot you. How fun.

    Eric,
    Not sure how Brewer slipped through my net, but yeah, great example. McCabe (and Chara for that matter) are also good examples of promising young defensemen who were cast aside early by the teams that drafted them, but unlike Brewer and the others I mentioned, they weren’t drafted in the top 30.

    I don’t get the impatience, either. I can only hope it’s the fans and not the coaching staff/management. I think there’s a pretty decent NHL defenseman inside that #44 sweater, and it’s just a matter of helping him reaching that potential. NHL teams owe that much to themselves, the fans and the draftees. If you half-ass the development of your prospects, kiss them off as failures and watch them prosper elsewhere (a la the Isles), you still need someone playing in that spot. Which leads to bad trades and/or dollars wasted in free agency. Drafting is important, but so is development. And sometimes there’s a disconnect there.

  4. pgreene Says:

    Mike-
    i don’t disagree eminger will be a good player. i do think, however, that because of that he’s one of the most marketable assets we have. i think we all acknowledge we need some players this offseason, and i think GMGM would probably say getting them through trades is better than free agency. we’ve been accruing assets for a coupla years now. it’s time to start turning those assets into a winning team. unless boston’s willing to trade us bergeron for alex (giroux), oscar hedman and the rights to rat stana, we’re going to need to part with someone who has significant upside to get back what we need to move forward.

  5. b.orr4 Says:

    Great post, Mike. Eminger is way too young to get rid off unless the Caps get a more seasoned defenseman in return. However, when you were mentioning defenseman who were given up on too early, you left out perhaps the classic example- Calle Johansson. He was the 14th choice in the 1985 draft, yet Buffalo let him go after two seasons and he only went on to play 900 more games with the Caps. The point is that unless you know you’re getting a defenseman who can play another 5-6 seasons for you, you shouldn’t trade away a young player who’s just coming into his prime years.

  6. HD Says:

    I think the criticism of Eminger has increased this year because of the soplid play of Schultz. Fans see a younger player, with less NHL experience comign in and cplaying consistent defense. Eminger shows more flashes of 2-way talent than Schultz, but he also makes a lot more rookie mistakes. And then there’s Morrisonn — only a year older but playing very consistent defense on a very inconsistent team. Eminger seems lost in the middle.

    I’m not ready to give up on Eminger, but if he turns out to be a bust, the Caps have no one to blame but GMGM — for all the reasons you listed. These young guys need veteran defensive leadership to show them the way. And Brian Muir is not the answer. Heward, while not a major talent, seemed a great teacher. Green particularly benefited from playing with him. We need quality verteran D!

  7. dumpnchase Says:

    pgreene,
    Totally agree with what you’re saying in theory. I’ve been advocating the trade route over free agency and the clever use of accrued assets to fill holes. And like I said in the piece, if the return was good, I’d be fine with it. I just think the Caps have let the air out of Eminger’s value this season. In a buy low, sell high world this isn’t the best time to be moving him.

    b. Orr,
    Yeah, there are many, many young D who have been kicked to the curb too soon. And Calle is a terrific example. I had to limit my research, so i kept it to the draft years of 1987-02.

    HD,
    Good point on Schultz. Funny that recently, Schultz was the guy paired with Pothier, the most experienced of the “core” D remaining here. Can’t blame it all on GMGM however. He is doing what he can within a budget.

  8. Allsmoke Says:

    Mike,
    Why don’t you have your site pinned on the message boards? I know it’s on the Caps homepage, but I think the blogs would get more readership if they were on the boards too.

    Your last 2 articles have been great reading, and I posted them to the boards, but for those who don’t have it bookmarked, the homepage is slow as balls to load, so they have the boards bookmarked instead.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, cheers

  9. Joe Says:

    Another great job, Mike.

    Beware, though, such thoughfullness and insightful analysis will very likely reslult in your being voted ofF Caps Message Board Island.

  10. dumpnchase Says:

    Allsmoke,
    Thanks, and I guess that’s a good idea. I know there is a disconnect between the people that use the boards and the main page of the site, and I know there are some issues with the page loading slowly. We hope that will be addressed this summer.

    Joe,
    I voted myself off there a few years back, way before the lockout. Logged on to just drop some useful info (or so I thought) about something that happened at the skate that morning, much in the fashion that blogs are used these days. I got carved up and accused of all sorts of ulterior stuff. So off I went.

  11. zerocool Says:

    Mike,

    Like Allsmoke said, very nice last two articles. I’m not sure I can disagree with anything you said and I think that is a good thing. Eminger would no doubt benefit from a vetern partner and, like you said, probably has “let the air out of [his] value this season.”

    That kinda leaves the team in a quandry then right? I take it that you are advocating Eminger staying with the organization but, contingent on resigning Erskine, the Caps will be fairly crowded on the defense front. Schultz has seemingly played himself into a roster spot next season, Morrisonn looks like a keeper, Green started fairly strong, Pothier has a large contract and Jurcina has flourished since leaving Boston. So I guess what I am asking is: who do you think is the MOST expendable of the group? As well as Jurcina has played does this just make him the best trade bait? Also, just curious, who do you think is the best partner for Pothier?

  12. AP1962 Says:

    Good article. But let’s analyize why the Caps were not thinking to sign the veteran defensemen this past year to help the young guys. Why they did not learn from the experiences of having Langway paired with a young Kevin Hatcher back in the day. Langway mentored Stevens and Hatcher toward successful NHL careers. The problem I see is this managements inability to recognize what they need and to develop a clear cut strategy in the offseasons. They know they have a glut of youngsters on defense, so logic would tell you to go out and get what you need to help nurture it. Muir and Heward don’t have enough games or big game experience to qualify for this role.

    The year 07 was not a complete waste but the 07/08 squad better have a youth/veteran feel to it or the Caps are going to have valleys of empty seats.

  13. fauxrumors Says:

    1) Only a fool would advocate the Caps ridding themselves of Eminger for no reason. However they are a team with many needs and few strengths.
    2) Their obvious strength is at left wing, but the other is having quite a few quality young defenders both at the NHL and AHL levels
    3) Sometimes you need to improve your team by using your strength assets to acquire players who improve the team in areas where you are weak. To that end trading Eminger seems reasonable as long as it is for an NHL player and improves the team and isn’t for a draft pick/prospect

  14. dumpnchase Says:

    zero,
    It’s a quandary, but it’s a good quandary. Having too many defensemen is not a bad problem to have, but having too many young defensemen can be a bit dicey. Who to keep, and who to move? Tough question. As to your question of who is most expendable, I’d say whichever one or two of the young D can bring back the most in return. That’s tough to know without knowing what other GMs might be persuaded to part with if you were to dangle the names Green, Schultz, Eminger (and whomever else) in front of him.

    If Eminger is moved in a package deal to fill a hole or two, then so be it. And the same goes for any of the others. I’d conceivably trade anyone on this team short of Ovechkin and possibly Kolzig. My point is that Eminger’s value isn’t as high as it could be, or as high as some of the other young defensemen. Best partner for Pothier might be Schultz. The two of them have played pretty well together.

    Faux,
    I’m all about using “strength assets to acquire players who improve the team in areas where you are weak.” It’s clearly a better route than overspending on a free agent, and that’s generally how it works. The only time you “underspend” in free agency is when you’re getting a guy with warts of some sort. And if Eminger is the guy who can bring those assets in return, great. My main points are: 1) This team needs defensemen. 2) This team has defensemen, at least in quantity. 3) This team hasn’t done exhausted every avenue to develop this particular defenseman. I’d be more apt to move Eminger if I didn’t think he’d go somewhere else and start putting up 30 points a year while playing 20 minutes a night.

    I have a very good friend who is a B’s fan. I’ll conclude this by pasting an email he sent me about this Eminger blog post:

    Nice post on 44 …
    …but you could’ve saved a lot of keystrokes with one name: “Milan Jurcina”

    One team’s inconsistent, young-20s D is another team’s 20-plus-a-night staple. You never, under any circumstances, give them up, unless you’re getting one in return (see Pronger for Brewer, though that didn’t exactly end well for Edmonton).

    F-ing Bruins.

  15. Absaraka Says:

    I can see why both sides are saying what they’re saying about #44. On one hand, I agree with you that it’s hard to develop blueliners when a lot of them are fairly green.

    On the other, I can see why a lot of the board mavens are seeing red. He’s not as consistent as perhaps he could be. Where both sides seem to part company is WHY he’s inconsistent. Is it inexperience? Or is it because Eminger’s just not that good to begin with?

    I know this is an overplayed stat, but Eminger is minus 13, which is tied for the worst among Caps blueliners (Erskine is the other minus 13, and Clymer is back up front.) So he’s arguably not the best defenseman on the team. Offense? He’s got 27 ahots, 1 goal, and 16 assists, in 62 games. So he’s not exactly an offensive threat.

    But some of Eminger’s critics will tell you that even that’s not the whole picture: they contend that the mistakes he makes are just boneheaded mistakes that end up costing the team. I’m not one of his harshest critics, myself–the guy behind me in my section never wastes a chance to knock Eminger on any perceived mistake–but I’ve seen him make some mistakes this year that had me wondering what he was thinking. He is inconsistent, and that’s very hard to overlook. And to impatient Caps fans who want this team to get better yesterday, that inconsistency is something they don’t think we need on the back line.

    So, if we need outside experience in back–trade, free agency, whatever–the question then becomes one of who to move to free up the roster spot. Pothier? He’s got 28 points. Morisonn? He’s plus 3 in 77 games. Green? He’s got 36 PIMs to Eminger’s 61, and even at minus 9 he’s ahead of Eminger in that column. Jurcina? He’s plus 5 since he got here. Erskine? He’s a better enforcer around the net. Muir? He’s got the most experience.

    So if we DO bring in outside help to get some experience, and somebody’s got to go to free the spot, Eminger starts looking awfully expendable if you look at it that way. Yes, you can use other stats to argue the other way–what was it Mark Twain said about three kinds of lies?–but I can see why Eminger’s critics think they’ve got a point.

    All that having been said, I have to stretch credulity a bit and say that I’m not one of Eminger’s toughest critics. Honestly, in true Libra fashion, I can’t make up my mind on the guy. I’d be willing to watch him for another season, maybe two, to develop, but his consistency has just got to improve. We’ve had enough heartache the past few seasons, and if Eminger continues to be consistency-challenged, keeping him in Washington is going to be a very hard sell to the fans in the cheap seats.

    Just my $0.02…

  16. DrinkingPartner Says:

    i’m torn by this question. I see both sides, and maybe even lean a little towards the more critical of the two. I’ve watched Eminger since his first game here (anyone else remember when the Caps had three rookies from the same draft make the opening day roster? Semin, Eminger, and Gordon), and, while he has improved, it seems like he hasn’t improved enough, compared to other players on the team. it’s already been said, but players like Schultz and Green have shown more to me in their part season and nearly one complete season by now respectively than Eminger has in his parts of 3 years or so here.

    I don’t, however, want to see him go. When he plays well, he plays really well. He’s never dominated a game, and I don’t expect him to, but maybe everyone else does? I mean, he’s not a Pronger, Neidermeyer, perhaps Phaneuf-like defenseman, but he could certainly be a, at his current pace, po’ man’s Johannson. But I get the feeling that he’s only going to be a role player here. Green looks like he’ll be a great power play quarterback eventually and Schultz also looks like he’ll pan out into a monstrous d-man who can intimidate. I just don’t see this for Eminger, not yet anyway. And that seems to be the problem. He’s not here yet. Given that he’s been here for a fair amount of time now, it seems like we should at least see where he’s going.

    I dunno. Like I said, I don’t want to see him go, but I would be interested to see who wants him and for what.

  17. OrderedChaos Says:

    Top-notch stuff Mike. Those same boards would be livid next year if Eminger is traded and flourishes elsewhere. I can hear it now: “Management screws up again,” and “Why trade a young d-man when we’re rebuilding?!” Much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    What I thought interesting early in the season was how well Eminger played when in a traditional pairing (as you mentioned). In particular, he seemed to improve dramatically when paired with Erskine — as if knowing a fairly reliable stay-at-home guy backed him up gave him free reign to play to his own strengths. Imagine how good Eminger could be when paired with a stay-at-home D-man who has significant NHL experience.

  18. Kerplunk Says:

    The biggest mistakes made this year were not having mentors for 1) the forwards and 2) the defensemen, for exactly the reasons you mentioned, Mike. I think its sad that the players have taken the brunt of Leonsis’ mistake. We can only fault the players so much, after having coals applied to their feet. That said, Jurcina, Mo, Erskine and Shultz had what I would call very good years given the adversary. Hats off.

  19. wanggo Says:

    Did you guys see the Sabre’s first goal today? Not the open net rebound but the play that made that possible. When that Sabres player went around Eminger like he was a Caps pee-wee player; that was quintessential Eminger! Even up to the last game of the season, Eminger was still making poor plays to defend an opposing player. He has been doing it all year, so it’s fitting he did it on the last game and it’s fan appreciation day. The Caps have no choice, at this moment, but to keep this guy. They have invested ample time and patience on him to become a decent dman. So far, he failed to produce. But like everyone here says, what can the Caps do. Do they let go of such a high drafted player? Or do they give him more years to mature? How many more years? Where do we draw the line? Mo and Jerky have played way better than him. Shultz, im my opinion, is a better player.

    I’m not impatient. I’m just tired of the loser’s mentality around here. We need to prop these players/coaches to a higher standard of play. We have given him ENOUGH time to be a “good” dman. (I quoted good because we have very low standards here in Caps land.) As you saw at today’s game, he has been way below “good”.

  20. Joe Says:

    Wanggo:

    Don’t suppose you took the time to note who the player was that went around Eminger . . . For the record it was Maxim Afinogenov, possesor of what TSN refers to as “blinding speed.”

    Makes one wonder what you ,ight be thinking when Alex I or Alex II make other teams #1 and #2 D-Men – that they always seem to be matched up against – look entirely foolish when they get turmed inside out.

    So quick to judge . . .

  21. dumpnchase Says:

    Joe,
    Great point. I’m guessing the Florida Panthers aren’t going to be shopping Jay Bouwmeester this summer just because Alex Ovechkin schooled him in the D-zone the other night.

  22. wanggo Says:

    Joe, i believe Maxim plays for the Sabres’ 4th line. Are you comparing him to OV? Eminger doesn’t have to match the opposing players’ “blinding speed”, all he has to do is play the body not the puck. I’m not a hockey player, but isn’t that lesson number 1 in defending? We’ll give him one more year next year, if he still plays like an AHLer, changes need to be done.

  23. Joe Says:

    Wango:

    When last I checked, Afenogenov was tied with Drury as the 3rd leading scorer on the Sabres!! He skated 15:37 last night, which was just about the same minutes as Hecht and Vanek . . . none of these boys are 4th liners, that’s for sure.

    Please see Vogel’s post re Jay Bouwmeester above.

    The way I see it, Ted and George have made it perfectly clear what the game plan is . . . everyone might not be buying it, but it is what it is. Sort of like when you have a job and don’t agree with the boss – either to get with the program or move on!!

  24. Joe Says:

    Where’s Wango?

  25. wanggo Says:

    Don’t worry Joe, I’m still here. My opinion on Eminger still hasn’t changed. I’d love to be proved wrong next season in regards to his potential. The pre game Caps report listed Maxim as a fourth liner…somehow even if he is the 3rd leading scorer of the Sabres, that’s very little consolation to many Caps fans who have followed Eminger all year.

    Yeah, you’re right about the game plan. It is what it is. I just wish making the Caps the cheapest team wasn’t part of it.

  26. Joe Says:

    Wango, Wango, Wango:

    You can’t always take what you read @ face value. The reason for the listing was/is that he’s just coming off njury list – he missed 21 games with a broken ankle – that was only his 2nd game back. Still, after all that time off, he remains 6th on the team in scoring. Let there be no mistake, this guy is a major talent! If we were fortunate to have him, you’d be in love.

  27. mattgunn Says:

    Great read, thanks a lot.

    -Matt

  28. phillip Says:

    I just like the fact that there are CAPS fans out there,that take the time to interact in this way. thanks from a fan in Ga. Eminger must stay atleast one more year,he is a young talent that needs a little work.again thaks

  29. Waldo Says:

    Wango, where forth arth thou?


  30. […] People Are Saying Developing Defensemen Hindsight is 20/20, but a signing a guy like Sean Hill last summer might have had a positive […]


  31. […] is 20/20 and there will always be a debate about whether the Caps might have done more or might have done things…. You don’t see many 24-year-old former first-rounders being buried by teams that drafted […]


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