Dialing for D is Difficult

Like a lot of you, I was hoping the Caps would be able to upgrade their team this summer. Like a lot of you, I enjoy playing armchair GM in my spare time. With that in mind, I looked at a list of the available unrestricted free agents from around the league earlier in the week and made up a “target list.” I listed guys at three positions: center, defense and right wing. And I listed the positions in that priority.

I made an “A” list, a “B” list and a “C” list at all three positions. The “A” list consists of the marquee guys, the Scott Gomezes and the Scott Hannans (“marquee” being a relative term in Hannan’s case) of the world. There aren’t many listed under “A” at any of the positions. The “B” list is populated with useful NHL players who would be an upgrade for the Capitals. The “C” list is the “break glass in case of emergency” list.

I had Tom Poti on my “B” list. I had Viktor Kozlov on my “A” list, but as a right winger. With the first day of free agency now behind us and some of the wild things that went down, I’m happy the Caps have these two guys in the fold. Sounds like they’re not finished yet, and I hope that’s the case.

To me, these two additions make the Caps a much better team in important areas.

Both players should help the Washington power play, particularly Poti. Both guys like playing with the puck, and are good at playing a puck possession game. The more you have the puck, the more penalties you will draw and the more time you will spend in the other end of the ice. So even though Poti is not known as a strong defender, the signings should help the Caps’ goals against total tangentially.

Given the craziness of some of the deals yesterday, these also look like fiscally smart signings to me.

Poti notched one more power play point (32) than did Mathieu Schneider (31) did with the Red Wings last season and two more than Brian Rafalski totaled (30) with New Jersey in 2006-07. Yet Poti’s average annual salary ($3.5 million a season) is far below that of Schneider ($5.625 million) and Rafalski ($6 million). Schneider signed a two-year deal with the Ducks and Rafalski a five-year pact with Detroit on Sunday.

It’s also worth noting that Poti logged more ice time per game (25:42 a night) than did Rafalski (25:29) and Schneider (23:34). It’s also worth noting that both Schneider (5:19) and Rafalski (4:44) skated more power play time per game than Poti (4:38) last season.

Ex-Lightning defenseman Cory Sarich got a five-year deal from Calgary worth more per season ($3.6 million) than Poti’s deal. For the record, Sarich was 148th in the NHL with an average ice time of 18:06 last season.

Acquiring quality and experienced NHL defensemen has become more and more difficult around the league. Washington picked up Shaone Morrisonn from the Bruins in Feb. 2004, but he had only half a season’s worth of experience at the time. The Caps got Milan Jurcina from Boston in a deal five months ago, but he also came to the District with less than 100 games in the NHL.

“We were fortunate to pick up a player like Jurcina last year in a trade, but you’re right,” says Caps GM George McPhee when asked about the difficulty of obtaining defensemen. “It’s really difficult to get experienced NHL defensemen through trades.

“We thought [Brian] Pothier was one of the better free agent signings last year. It worked out very well for our club. We think we’ve just done another one with Poti. They’re both puck-moving defensemen. Clearly defensemen have to be able to defend; that’s most important. But you’ve got to have guys there who can move the puck as well. We have some talented forwards, and if the puck is going off the glass all the time they’re just not as effective as they could be if you’ve got someone who is hitting them when they’re open and passing the puck to them.

“They’re puck possession people. If you’re firing the puck off the glass all the time and not making plays, then the other team has it and you’re chasing it. Both Pothier and Poti are guys who when they get the puck, they make good decisions, they hang onto it and they have poise. You’re just a better puck possession team. You’ve got to be able to do the right things with the puck. All you have to do is watch the playoffs last year and teams were really good with the puck. The first time you turn it over, it’s a scoring chance or a penalty against. We wanted another player who could make good decisions with the puck and make plays.”

Poti has played 594 NHL games. Just as an idea of how tough it is to bring in a defenseman with that much NHL experience via the trade route, take a look at this:

Milan Jurcina, Bryan Muir, Shaone Morrisonn, Joel Kwiatkowski, Josef Boumedienne, Frantisek Kucera, Dean Melanson, Jason Marshall, Alexei Tezikov and Enrico Ciccone.

Those are the defensemen the Caps have obtained in trades since the last time they acquired a defenseman with Poti’s NHL experience or better in a deal. You’ve got to go back to Mar. 24, 1998 when Washington obtained Jeff Brown from Toronto in exchange for another veteran defenseman, Sylvain Cote. Brown brought 738 games worth of NHL experience with him to Washington that day. Even though that number was fewer than the 765 games of experience Cote was taking to the Leafs, it’s also higher than the 594 Poti brings with him to Washington.

I know the obligatory knee-jerk reaction from Caps Nation at this juncture is to blame McPhee for not getting a defenseman of Poti’s experience level. But the reality is that it’s a hard thing to do no matter who you are.

Milt Schmidt shelled out some cash to pry 40-year-old defenseman Doug Mohns from the Atlanta Flames 33 years ago this summer. That transaction took place as the Caps were getting ready for their inaugural NHL season of 1974-75. Mohns brought 1,315 games worth of NHL experience to the table.

A few years later, Max McNab shipped former first overall draft choice Greg Joly to Detroit for veteran irritant Bryan “Bugsy” Watson, a 34-year-old who had played 723 NHL contests.

David Poile made two deals to bring in veteran defenseman with more games than Poti. On Mar. 10, 1986, Poile dealt Darren Veitch to the Red Wings for 30-year-old Greg Smith, who had 716 games of NHL experience at the time, and John Barrett. Nearly a decade later, Poile dealt Alan May to Dallas for Jim Johnson, whose résumé included 637 NHL tilts.

So the list is short. Over a period of 33 years, Washington has moved assets in return for a “veteran” defenseman only five times.

Washington has had plenty of solid NHL defensemen who have enjoyed long careers in the league over the years. But most of them were youngsters when they arrived in town.

Rod Langway had all of 268 games in the league when he got to the District in 1982. Larry Murphy had 242. Calle Johansson had 118. Garry Galley had 157. Brian Engblom had 316. Al Iafrate had 472. Grant Ledyard had 211. Bob Rouse had 351. Joe Reekie had 400. Mark Tinordi had 399. Curtis Leschyshyn had 522. Many of those guys had NHL careers that approached or exceeded 1,000 games.

Some folks expressed varying degrees of shock when Washington used its first three choices in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft to select defensemen. (The Caps spent their first four choices on defensemen in 2005.) But it makes sense. If you are able to draft and develop defensemen, you can avoid the difficulty of trying to deal for them, and you can avoid opening up your wallet to buy one on the free agent market.

Finally, McPhee stated that Washington’s pro scouts really liked what they saw from Poti last season. That’s good enough for me. The Caps’ pro scouts have done a good job recently of identifying guys who might flourish with a change of scenery (Chris Clark, Pothier and Jurcina come instantly to mind), and I’m looking forward to seeing how Poti does in the red, white and blue in 2007-08 and beyond.

And a reminder: the Caps don’t have a game scheduled for tomorrow. Or the day after that, or the day after that. Plenty of time, and work to be done. Crucify McPhee and Co. if you will (and I know you will), but you might want to wait till November or so to see what other transactions are in store and see how the team meshes on the ice. That’s when it matters.

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99 Comments on “Dialing for D is Difficult”

  1. TG Says:

    And don’t forget, cap room saved for next season makes it easier to acquire future free agents!

  2. Roderick Says:

    Everything you wrote seems well thought out and articulate, but asking the fans to be patient until November but allowing the organization to ask for our season ticket money before then seems mighty hypocritical. Do we get our seats free until November when we see how these moves pan out and then decide if we want to pay for the product or not?

    Please let’s be honest here, the team has a bad reputation with the players in the league because it fails to show a level of loyalty and commitment that players and fans are asked to return to the organization. The team has to over come years of bad decisions and poor behavior.

  3. Steve Fischer Says:

    Mike –

    I kn ow you are closer to the situation that I. That said, I think we both agree that there were some glaring needs that went unmet at the close of business yesterday, There is not a top line center on the Caps roster as yet, nor is there a true #1/2 stay-at-home bruising defensemen on the Caps roster. If those needs get met before the start of the season, my pessimism can turn to optimism.

  4. dumpnchase Says:

    TG,
    Good point. Also, some teams could get hurt in arbitration and need to make deals to get within the cap as a result.

    Roderick, I don’t think the team’s reputation among players is as bad as fans seem to think. I’m told that in addition to the calls the Caps were making to players yesterday, calls were also coming in from players and agents, calls from players who want to play in Washington.

    As for the season ticket issue, that’s an individual choice. I’m not asking anyone to be patient until November, I’m just saying it makes sense. The offseason lasts several months, and all I am saying is that we have no way of knowing what the Opening Night Caps are going to look like on July 2. People will be patient or not according to their own individual wiring.

    Every team makes “bad decisions” and good ones. I’m not sure about the “poor behavior.” That’s also an individual perception.

  5. pucksandbooks Says:

    By my way of thinking, Poti was a no. 1 D for a playoff hockey club in ’06-’07.

  6. dumpnchase Says:

    Steve,
    Absolutely there are glaring needs that went unmet. But the store didn’t close for good yesterday, either. Plenty of time (and budget space) to do more shopping.

  7. dumpnchase Says:

    Pucks,
    Sage observation from a sage observer. He’s a guy who is gettng better, and not just at the offensive end of the ice. A good friend of mine is a big Isles fan, and he was genuinely bummed at Poti’s departure. That wasn’t the case when he left his previous two homes.

  8. unhuman Says:

    Funny thing you mention Leschyshyn…. What’d he play? 2 games as a Cap before he was re-traded? Not even worth mentioning.

  9. writered Says:

    Nothing against Poti – I think he fills a need. But if the details on the Preissing deal are true (4 years, $11M, from http://www.tsn.ca) compared to Poti (4 years, $14M), it makes me wonder a bit.

    Maybe Preissing had no interest in playing here, who knows. Just seems odd.

    I agree on the saving some salary cap space – to a point. If the NHL is going to increase the cap $6M every offseason, then we’re going to keep seeing the same teams signing the top talent, because they will always have room given to them.

    All that said – the deals are what they are, and both Poti and Kozlov should be good fits. In fact, if the reported salary numbers are true for Kozlov ($5M, 2 years), he’s a damn steal.

  10. dumpnchase Says:

    unhuman,
    Yep, the Lesschyshyn era lasted two games. Point is, they gave up assets to get him, and he went on to play more than 1,000 games in the league. They didn’t have to deal him after those two games, but they did. So I mentioned him.

  11. Troy Says:

    Even if the Caps were to not sighn another player this offseason, I think we have a playoff ready team this season if we stay healthy. Our team is young, but we are into year 3 or 4 of development and the young players are gona start to mature and connect making team chemistry. The team showed us last year they were ready for the playoffs until about half way through around when ollie got hurt. We have a good young hockey team, and now we have a veteran defenceman and a right winger of similar skill…maybe better then zubrus.

    And about season ticket purchasing, even when the caps suck, they are an exciting team to watch with guys like semin and ovie, and now Backstrom.

  12. bill ball Says:

    Mike,

    Good read per usual. The gates are nowhere near closed, and if anything, McPhee and company MAY have proved they are intent on doing business. Certainly it was advertised that the Caps planned to be busy this offseason, but you know the whole phrase about actions vs words…
    Anyway, how to else to lure bigger guys than to sign a couple quality mid-tier FAs? This way, you don’t break the bank on FA signings and then go for the kill on a trade or two. We can hope…

    What can be assured here is that (as you mentioned), the power play should be notably better, and the Capitals have taken significant steps away from being the club scampering after the puck in their own end half the night. I think we’d all much rather see them be the one that’s controlling the play.

  13. Howard Silberstein Says:

    I concur with your thoughts. I also would like to see George pursue our next Michael Nylander as our next acquisition. I think that this would round out our needs and allow Backstrom to develop more strategically. I also think that we might consider a trade that would include Semin to obtain a better backup goalie for Olie.

  14. J-Man Says:

    If you don’t mind me asking, who were some of your other “A” and “B” List centers and right wingers? It seems the Caps were beaten to some of mine. Also, what are your thoughts on picking up Nylander or Lang for another go-around?! I know they’re aged, but last season I felt that the Caps needed some more veterans up front besides Clark and Brashear.

  15. dumpnchase Says:

    Writered,
    I’d rather have Poti, even for a few extra dollars.

    Troy,
    Still need a first-line center, and possibly another vet D of the stay-at-home ilk. Then I’m firmly in the playoff camp.

    Bill,
    They’re still working on some things. And to me, it’s better to fill more needs with midline players than to make one big splash for the same money. I’d rather have Poti and Kozlov than Briere. Or Gomez. Or Drury. This will be a better team next year.

    Howard,
    I’m with you on the Nylander front. He’s the last center left on my “A” list.

    J-Man,
    The “A” list for centers included Briere, Gomez, Drury and Nylander. the “B” list was Handzus, Comrie and Forsberg, who would be an obvious A-lister if not for health concerns.

    As to wingers, the “A” list was Zubrus (who I like better as a winger), Smyth (left wing, but Semin could’ve slid over) Kozlov, Shanahan, Guerin. The “B” list was Nagy, Bertuzzi and Nolan. And remember, the RW was behind C and D on my hierarchy of needs.

    Nylander? Yes. Lang? No. He doesn’t appear to have much left in the tank to me.

  16. Adam Says:

    Sure would have been nice to grab Nylander to fill a hole at center. It sounded like the Oilers nabbed him as of this morning. How is it that a team with this kind of free payroll can’t land a guy like Nylander? He was a good fit while he was here, and would not have been playing with a heartless superstar if he were to return.

  17. dumpnchase Says:

    Adam,
    Reports of Nylander signing with the Oilers are premature.

  18. Adam Says:

    What’s the word on Yashin? Never had a high opinion of that guy, and it sounds like he’s a real possibility. Would he be a bad “character” addition in D.C.? I’m surprised we didn’t just adopt the Russian jersey as our new design! All kidding aside, I am fairly happy with the pick up’s so far, but a bit disappointed that we didn’t go for a top center…yet.

  19. dumpnchase Says:

    Torn on Yashin, myself. I had him on the “C” list. I’d rather see someone else in that slot, but he’s obviously a talented player.

    No top center yet, as you note, but the store has only been open for a bit more than 24 hours and the shelves aren’t barren yet. Trades are always a possibility, too.

  20. Ben Says:

    Tom Poti and Viktor Kozlov? As a former bigtime Caps fan who never came back after the lockout, I have to say I’m very disappointed. My Verizon Center money will still all be spent on the Wizards this year.

  21. dumpnchase Says:

    Errata: An emailer just pointed out to me that I inadvertently had John Barrett going to Detroit with Veitch instead of coming from Detroit with Smith. Noted, and corrected. That’s what I get for reading the media guide fine print at 3 a.m.

  22. toughhockey Says:

    Please don’t put such spin up to try to explain the misserable failures of this team and what it has done (and not done)

    Boy just when you thought you had seen it all

  23. dumpnchase Says:

    Ben,
    What would you have done with that $6 mil per year? If you haven’t been back in two years, I’m guessing there were no players out there for the signing at $6 mil that would have brought you back to VC. Enjoy the Wizards.

  24. dumpnchase Says:

    Tough,
    Call it what you want. Would I love to have Scott Hannan? Sure. For $5 mil? I dunno. That Jay McKee signing didn’t work out so well for the Blues last year. In a perfect world, I’d rather not have to sign any free agents. But when you’ve got holes, you’ve gotta fill them. I honestly thought they did a decent job of filling needs without breaking the bank, which is important since there are still more needs to be filled, as I think we can all agree.

    No matter who gets signed, there are always going to be naysayers. What would you have done with the $6 mil the Caps spent so poorly yesterday?

  25. TJ Says:

    toughhockey, dude you should get a new sport to follow. Nothing will please you, why dont you take up basket weaving.

  26. toughhockey Says:

    Yes TJ

    I should. Heck most of the other fans already have, as a half empty Verizon Center shows for most Caps game, so why not me too. You have the exact mentality that is killing this team. You saying hey, longtime dedicated fans, this is the way it’s going to be so be happy with it. Not me, I will fight it till the bitter end.

  27. Johnny Drum Says:

    Im quite pleased with the aquisitions yesterday.
    Poti is underated,and Kozlov is super skilled/with great size.
    I think GM is a lot more shrewder than some of the other GMs who shelled out pre-lockout wages to some average players.
    Afterall,what did the Bruins achieve by throwing ££/$$ at Chara last year??
    Its slowly starting to take shape..slowly..but i hope steadily.

  28. Troy Says:

    Why does NYRangers need 2 first string centers, drafting gomez and drury seems a bit much unless 1 is going to play the wing. I would have loved to see Drury come here, great hockey player and still young, would fit in well with our development program.

    Also do you think that Kozlov has what it takes to be a #1 center, then draft Zubrus to put him on the rw?

  29. toughhockey Says:

    Dump in chase

    You are missing the whole point of what I am saying. They wasted 6 million on players that are even baby steps to what we need here. This has been going on for WAY too long under the pretense of “rebuilding”.

    What I don’t want is someone come on here and tell me the Caps are doing and have done a great job. Tehy have done a horrble job. Caps management never wants to FULLY address the weaknesses and the many needs of this team. Yesterday FA start is only a small part of it. Signing an overatted Dman, when you need 2 good dman and another forward who brings little more than what we ahve does nothing to get this team righted. At this point with this idiocrisy of currnet Caps managment and they way they have been alienating the fans for the past serveral years, it may be too late anyway. Waht I don’t want is to have someone come on here and tell fans who know the game how good everythign is and how well we ahve done. I have had enough of it and will take anyone to task who says otherwise.

  30. dumpnchase Says:

    Tough,
    I didn’t “come on here” and tell you anything. I can’t make my blog or any of my writings appear magically on your browser. You clicked a link and it brought you here. The stuff I write pisses a lot of people off. If you count yourself among them, then don’t read it. Life’s too short. Carry on.

  31. dumpnchase Says:

    Troy,
    The Rangers spent as they saw fit. I’d much rather see Kozlov on the wing here and have a more legit first-line center.

  32. toughhockey Says:

    Dump n chase

    I take it your Vogel. Had I known it wa you I NEVER would have read it. With anything you say all I need to do is sign up for the latest Caps PR releases and have them emailed or faxed to me and I would get pretty much what you give us.

    Why don’t you advocate for the fans a little more and take this team to task for their blundering. I know they probably cut th check, but journalistic ethics are suppose to be impotant for someone who reports.

    Trust me tnow that I know, or at least it appears I will avoid all “dumpnchase” articles and blogs.

  33. dumpnchase Says:

    Thanks, I appreciate that. Good for the noise-to-signal ratio around here.

  34. Joe Says:

    Tough Hockey; You certainly are entitled to voice whatever opinions that you may have – just don’t present them as fact. I have my opinion on these deals – very positive – but that doesn’t make it fact.

  35. toughhockey Says:

    I tkae it “noise” means anyone who doesnt agree with you and “signal” is those that do?

  36. Andy Says:

    Mike – I can’t quite remember, will the Caps Report still be on for Wed, or is it being resceduled, as it is the 4th of July. Wasn’t sure if you all would be working on the holiday.

    Cheers.

  37. Troy Says:

    toughhockey- take it elswhere.

    I was worried when looking at remaining center’s because most of them are old and soon to retire, but then realized we have Backstrom, so all we need is a veteran center for a year or 2 until Backstrom picks up his game.

    As far as center’s left in FA who would you rank as top 5 left. Also do you think that Karl Alzner will be nhl ready this season?

  38. toughhockey Says:

    Joe

    If oyu need ‘facts” look how pathetic we have become as an organization. The same folks who made these “very positive” moves as you say, are the very ones who got us into sucha sad sack of a team. You too must be a compnay man. Are you Joe B the annoucer?

  39. toughhockey Says:

    No thnak you Troy, I will jsut stay here!

  40. NJCapsFan Says:

    This team has been at the bottom of the division for a few years now, and they fail to bring in a player like Briere or Drury? These are two very solid players at a position of need for the Caps. What a shame. Why does it seem like so many other teams are willing to spend what it takes to bring in NHL ready players while the Caps either a.) get beat to the punch, or b.) prefer to wait several years for so many young, unproven prospects to get better? I like McPhee, but I don’t think he has the killer instinct this team needs in order to get better NOW.

  41. rodlang Says:

    Poti has had an inconsistent career. He got booed by the Oil and Ranger fans for turning over the puck but was solid last year for the Isles. I do think he can handle the heavy workload (24-25 minutes/game) alot better than Pothier. The Caps expected too much from BP. I hope they are going to put Kozlov at RW and get a legit center. That’s the glaring weakness right now.

  42. dumpnchase Says:

    NJ,
    Those guys cost more than Poti and Kozlov combined. And there are other players who can fill that need. Again, it’s only July 2.

  43. toughhockey Says:

    NJCapsFan

    I don’t want to be hearing all that “noise”

    🙂

  44. toughhockey Says:

    Rodlang

    You are correct here, that the vast majority of his career, he has been inconsistent. Funny you bring up Pothier, he too came off a good year when we got him from Ottawa. Last year he was nothing short of well, bad. I don’t expect more out of Poti.

  45. Troy Says:

    WE GOT NYLANDER!

  46. NJCapsFan Says:

    Briere and Drury cost more because they are better than others who are available at center. As a fan, I don’t concern myself so much with the financial side of it. All I know is the Caps have the cap space to bring in a marquee player and could have made a push for either of those two guys. What’s the sense in by-passing great players for guys who are a rung or two lower down the ladder just to save a little money? we’ll see what Drury and Briere’s numbers are compared to Kozlov at the end of the season.

  47. Chester Says:

    As usual you have presented us with interesting information to take into account as we wait for camp and the new season. There are those of us out here in the Caps Nation that have not walked in the shoes of the coaches or the scouts or the GM’s. We are not spending the money and making the decisions. We just love hockey for the amazing sport that it is. The “fruit-basket upset” that occurs during free agency just adds a little spice to each upcoming season. The rantings of some of your readers are mindless given that no matter how much is spent or who comes to town, only time will tell what is really going to play out!.

  48. Troy Says:

    NJCapsFan, Caps dont just need a superstar like Drury or Briere, WE HAVE SUPERSTARS, (Ovechkin & Semin) problem is they are not surrounded by players that can get things done, don’t blow all your money on another superstar, spread it around…now we have Ovie, Nylander, Kozlov as our #1 which I am quite impressed with along with a veteran behind the blueline Poti. Our team needs depth not stars.

  49. Adam Says:

    Regardless of the guys they passed on, Nylander’s a great pickup. He was terrific the first time around in Washington, and he won’t be playing with heartless Jagr this time around. Ovechkin has his set up man!!…and for less cash than those other guys, I’m assuming.

  50. kiltman Says:

    dumpnchase, I agree with most of what you say here, especially that it is only July 2nd. I just hope that GMGM doesn’t get caught out by being too fiscally responsible or cautious, this team is young but hungry, Olie is not a spring chicken and I think for their development, and also for the diehard fans, we need to be playoffbound this year to give everyone a taste of the next level. For that to happen we need to perhaps spend more than we would like, I’m not talking Sather money here, but perhaps Nylander for 4years would be worth it. As a mentor for Backstrom, he still has some good wheels I am not sure whether it is a huge risk. Also is Zubrus still available, why not bring him back? Bottom line is with the cap increase we haven’t actually increased payroll at all, we were seeing it increase by 6M anyway. Get Ted to open the wallet and let’s see a serious attempt at the playoffs. Hey if all else fails I say take Yashin.

  51. Troy Says:

    If we can nab Zubrus or another equally talented RW (perferably Zuby cuz we love him in DC) and a 2nd veteran D…this team will go far.

    As far as goalies go, I hear we have a young Russian prospect that is 19-20 years old, I don’t know anything for sure but I have heard he is playing top notch over in Russia and that he is supposed to be Ollies replacement in a year or 2. Can anyone confirm this?

  52. dumpnchase Says:

    NJ,
    Don’t compare Drury and Briere’s number to Kozlov’s. Compare them to Nylander’s. He’s the center, not Kozlov. Unfortunately, there is a financial side of it, whether you concern yourself with it or not.

    Chester,
    Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it.

    Troy,
    Agreed. We’ve got some stars, needed some depth and support, and hopefully we got it. And it’s still July 2.

    Kiltman,
    Nylander is in the fold. Zubrus probably doesn’t fit now. I think they’re set up front, and could maybe use a bit of tweaking/shuffling on the backline. Still plenty of time. And best of all, no need to bite that Yashin apple.

  53. Absaraka Says:

    Oh, for crying out loud…

    Why is everyone already burying next year when it’s not even the 4th of July yet?! The FA market has been open for all of 29 hours as I type this, the Caps have made two shrewd plays already, and the entire offseason is already a failure? We fail to go from building (note my intentional lack of a “re”) to Cup contender in time for Monday’s six o’clock news, and that’s it, stick a fork in the season?

    Patience, Caps faithful. The Great Wall of China was built one stone at a time, but you can still see it from space without a telescope. Even metaphorically, championship teams are not built overnight. That some fans are upset because the Caps aren’t doing it LITERALLY would be hilariously funny if it weren’t so ridiculously depressing.

    And I’ve already ordered my season tickets, thank you very much. Next year WILL be a better year for the Caps, and I intend to be there to see all 41 home games.

    MINIMUM, if you see what I mean.

  54. kiltman Says:

    Wow, that was quick, great pickup, I was sad to see him go the Rangers in the first place. 4 Years is ok, especially for a guy that is as fit as he is. How old are Lidstrom, and Sundin, most of these Swedes are in good shape, if they stay healthy they can play well into their late 30’s. This will be great for Ovie, I say he gets over 50 goals this year and Nylander gets close to 100pts. Poti is going to make a huge difference on the PP and Kozlov is another good winger with finally someone who can teach the rest how to score in the shootout. If we even win half the game we lost in the shootouts this year we would have been fighting into April for a playoff spot. One more Top 4 D-man necessary and we can go to camp and see whether the kids can step up.

  55. kiltman Says:

    Let’s break the bank and get Sheldon Souray. What a PP that would be, not since Hatcher , Iafrate have we had that. Setup by Poti, Clark in front, Nylander and Ovie with Souray on the point. Come on GMGM!

  56. kiltman Says:

    Well done George, hats off you have made the Caps a better team in two days. Time to sit back and look at what happens at camp. The pieces are coming together for a decent team poised for the playoffs. Space for another puzzle piece after the All Star break. Great pickups, good veteran leadership, mentors for Ovie, Backstrom, Green and Eminger, people who want to play for the team, not cancers and big egos. Nice work and no longterm contracts to hobble us like the past.


  57. […] Dialing for D is Difficult Like a lot of you, I was hoping the Caps would be able to upgrade their team this summer. Like a lot of you, I enjoy […] […]

  58. NJCapsFan Says:

    Dumpy – I realize there is a financial side to it, but my point is that, as fans, we needn’t concern ourselves with it so much. Why do we all have to walk around thinking like GMs? The Caps have the money, so they should spend it and bring in players who will win games and put fans in seats.

    As for comparing Briere and Drury’s number to Kozlov’s, I said that before it was confirmed Nylander had been added. But since you suggested it, we should compare his numbers to theirs’ and see what happens. I’m willing to bet they both do better than Nylander (not that I want them to. It’s just reality).

  59. Troy Says:

    Maybe their numbers are slighlty better than Nylanders, but they are probly getting payed close to double. And no the caps don’t have as much money as you would think, the caps have cost owners ted and mcphee Millions of dollers every year for a looong time, the caps are not a profitable organization. Nylander will get the job done just as good as a Briere and I personally would rather Nylander because he has played with us b4 and done well. Save a little money here and there and leave extra room in the cap, that way when Ovies contract expires we can keep him, and other little things like that.

  60. doug Says:

    Mike, solid reporting and well written as usual. Tonight, I’m particularly pleased with the Nylander deal. I took a look at the web right before I left work and it was still “Edmonton” but uncomfirmed. When I came home, I saw the byline of “Nylander to Caps” and I didn’t know what to believe. Once I saw it on the Caps web and in Tarik’s Wash Post column, and verified on the TSN web page, I was just ecstatic. I have already renewed my season tickets for next year and really see this team (on paper) with a chance of high 80’s to low 90’s, and more if some of the young guys from Hershey step up and the injury bug doesn’t snag us too badly. Also wanted to commend all you guys for the super job in Russia and bringing the coverage to life. Those articles were very entertaining.

  61. Thomas Says:

    Is the team going to resign Novotny? Would centers Jaime Lundmark and Glen Metropolit, Right wing Adam Hall, left wing Demitrakos, defensman Aaron Miller be good free agents for the Capitals to sign? Jaime Lundmark can win faceoffs and is an experienced playmaking center who can hit hard and skates well. He used to play in Calgary with Chris Clark during their Stanley Cup run in the 2004-05 season. I know that Caps just signed Nylander but would it be cool to add depth in case one or more of the free agents that get signed this year gets injured. Would a trade for Malkin in exchange for Novotny work? Would Novotny be good trade bait for aquiring first round draft pics for next years draft? Ovechkin, Malkin and Kozlov seem like the perfect scoring line. Could Alexei Yashin help a line with Brashear and Eric Fehr?

  62. J-Man Says:

    You had some good ideas, Thomas. I wouldn’t mind seeing Aaron Miller back there, but I think you’re giving Novotny a little too much credit. There’s no way the Pens would ever trade Malkin for Novotny. It would be nice to see Ovechkin and Malkin together, but it’s just not very realistic this century. I think that Pittsburgh will hold on to Malkin just as they’ll hold on to Crosby and Staal. If Backstrom pans out and we’re able to resign everyone, the Caps should be alright if our offensive lines look someting like this:

    Ovechkin – Nylander – Kozlov
    Semin – Backstrom – Clark
    Pettinger – Sutherby – Fehr
    Brashear – Gordon – Bradley

    Those are just some ideas…plus they’ll hopefully have Fleischmann, Klepis, Laich, Clymer to throw in the mix. I’m not just saying this because I’m partial to the Capitals, but I truly believe that these are good players. No, they’re not superstars, but they’re role players. If they can step up and pitch in, I think there’s a shot at the playoffs. People are quick to forget that it takes a team to win, not a few star players.

  63. Thomas Says:

    There are some guys like Jaime Lundmark who I think would fit in immediately in the Capitals line up. Glen Metropolit has proven he can play with the Atlanta Thrashers. If the Caps sign him he might give the young players a few points on how to deal with adversity at the professional level and it would give the Caps a punch when we play the Thrashers this up coming season. The Caps and Thrashers are a good rivalry and perhaps just as good a rivalry as Washington and Pittsburg. I have Jaime Lundmark on a line with Zubrus and Clymer in one of my hockey video games. The line worked and the chemistry of the line improved. The Caps seem to have struggled against the Thrashers and Penguins last season. Jaime Lundmark or Glen Metropolit might help their chances for this up coming season. Are there any goalies that the Capitals might be interested in signing?

  64. dumpnchase Says:

    NJCapsFan,
    The financial side is reality, like it or not. You can smoke three packs a day and not worry about the health side of it, but it’ll kill ya. You can’t spend money like there is no tomorrow because there is a tomorrow. And tomorrow is when Kolzig, Semin and Ovechkin will need to be locked up and signed for the long haul. This isn’t the NFL where contracts aren’t guaranteed and bad signings can go away with the snap of a finger.

    The Caps think these players will win games and put fans in the seats, otherwise they wouldn’t have signed them. Drury, Gomez and Briere are all making about 40% more than Nylander over the next four years. Shouldn’t we expect them to outproduce Nylander by 40% over that period, then?

    Doug,
    Thanks for the kind words. The trip to Russia was terriifc and a highlight of my career. And the guys I was with were fun to be around, which made it all the better. I agree with you, too, the Caps are on the threshold of being a playoff team. That’s the first step to bigger and better things. See you at VC in October.

    Thomas,
    The Caps won’t be re-signing Novotny.

  65. Thomas Says:

    Would Fleishman Sutherby and Fehr on a line work? I can see a very effective line including some of the other players you mentioned. Fleischmann Clymer and Klepis.

  66. Jay Says:

    What is the Capitals goaltending plan…who is Ollies planned replacement when the time comes, or do we not have a replacement planned yet? Also is it likley that Alzner is going to join us this year?

  67. John Says:

    I can actually see where both views are coming from here. Let’s face it, Caps fans have plenty of reason to be frustrated. It’s hard to be patient when your team consistently finishes at the bottom of the league and you’re always sitting around fans for the visiting team in the Verizon Center. However, I don’t think things are looking that bad. Let’s not forget that this team isn’t as far off as the standings last year indicated. They were in the thick of it until injuries showed what they really lacked- depth. I think the FA additions addressed two of our biggest needs- very good forwards to have a legitimate SECOND line scoring threat (so that every team can’t keep stacking their best D against the Ovechkin line) and a defenseman than can get the puck up the ice and help on the power play. Spending tons on the most expensive free agents isn’t the right fix. Finding the right players that fit with the team is. Take a look at the Yankees as an example. Plus, folks may disagree, but I had a better time watching Hanlon’s team play last season (even though they lost a lot)- because they actually play with some fire- as opposed to say, the underachieving Jagr teams we had a few years back.

  68. dumpnchase Says:

    Jay,
    The Caps have two promising young goaltenders in the pipeline: Simeon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, both drafted in 2006. And both raw kids, probably years away from NHL dependability if they ever get there. Washington also has Daren Machesney, drafted in 2005 and a big kid named Dan Dunn drafted this year. Kolzig hopes to play three more seasons. I’m guessing the moves of the last few days will help in getting his contract extended here. The Caps hope to develop one or more of those three for NHL duty over the next three years.

    John,
    Good point. This team was fifth in the East in mid-December when injuries and illness hot hard. On paper, they’re a better team than they were in December, and with better depth. Staying healthy is important for every team, but if the Caps can do so they should be far improved in the standings as well, not just on paper.


  69. […] for the Capitals, fans seem pretty happy about the teams’ acquisitions; some may even renounce their grumpiness. The Hogs are […]

  70. hiphopspot Says:

    Maybe their numbers are slighlty better than Nylanders, but they are probly getting payed close to double. And no the caps don’t have as much money as you would think, the caps have cost owners ted and mcphee Millions of dollers every year for a looong time, the caps are not a profitable organization. Nylander will get the job done just as good as a Briere and I personally would rather Nylander because he has played with us b4 and done well. Save a little money here and there and leave extra room in the cap, that way when Ovies contract expires we can keep him, and other little things like that.

  71. Thomas Says:

    Would signing Jaime Lundmark, Zubrus and Aaron Miller to 3 year deals put the Capitals in a bad position? Is Rico Fata still in the organization? Why were Jason Doig and Joel Kwiatkowski traded? Is there anyone the Caps can sign to use for trade bait to aquire more draft picks? Next years draft is expected to have more talent? I looked at the NHL draft reports and saw one player that I hoped would be in the organization. Elia Ostwald is a 6′ 7″ center. I think he has potential to be an Eric Lindros type of player.

  72. Thomas Says:

    Is it possible for one of the Staal’s to play for the Capitals? I’d like to see the next Staal in Washington when his draft year comes. Who do you think is the best rival for the Caps besides Pittsburg?

  73. Thomas Says:

    Do some of the ideas from here get suggested to the GM or who ever makes trading decisions and free agent signings?

  74. Scai Says:

    lol Thomas you’re really funny!

  75. Andrew Says:

    Wow…there are a lot of disgruntled fans. Understandably so, but am I the only one who thinks this may actually work out. They’re in desperate need of defensive guidance and I think that any veteran added to the team would help. I’m optimistic about this. I’m not throwing my season tickets away. It’s frustrating to see the team lose and not make the playoffs and it’s frustrating to see teams signing A list talent out the wazoo. I’ll just say one thing…Jaromir Jagr. A list talent…A list Caps flop. It’s July. Have some faith. I don’t think things can be any worse next season. Then again, same of the same people being overly critical will throw their season tickets away if the Caps don’t make the cup finals next year. Thanks for the good read.

  76. Howard Silberstein Says:

    OK, now that we have discussed the ownership for and against and evaluated the choices for and against…I would like to discuss the coaching situation. I would like to posit that one of the reasons we have not been able to break our losing cycle has been that Coach Hanlen may not be the person to take the team to the next level no matter how much talent he has available. I believe he is a good skills coach but is not a good strategy coach…he believes in the three in front and the 2 lay back system. The teams that have succeeded these past few years have all 5 players playing both ways. The previous coach who could not develop relationships with the players had a better record than Hanlen. How could we let an assistant coach go to Anaheim and become a Stanley Cup Coach in less than 2 years? The talent we have and the talent we are garnering and nurturing require a coach that has the vision and the tenacity to get us to the next level. I believe we should now focus on identifying that person even to the point of bringing someone out of retirement or entering into discussions with existing coaches. We are not supposed to be an outstanding AHL team.

  77. fnord42 Says:

    hey mike,

    while i’m all for free speech, the one ‘comment’ about jesus, jews, etc. is a little; no make that way out of context and personally, i’d like to see it removed. not because i do not support free speech, but rather because it has nothing to do with hockey.

    i think the singings were pretty good. and then to get the nylander news was even better. i think it’s great that people are so passionate about the caps and that it comes out it frustration, joy, anger, (insert emotion here), but i think many of the cheap shots i see in the comments here and on the boards are trying to ‘bait’ people, or it’s just that the person wants to attack the indivduals and not the circumstances. it’s simple logic. when in doubt take the circumstances and blame everything and everyone and not address the actual issue.
    if i remember correctly the caps wanted to re-build and they had a 3 year plan. isn’t this the 3rd year? before i judge poti or anyone else who ends up in the red white and blue, i’m going to at least wait until i see how they play first. when the caps got freisen it looked great on paper compared to clark signing. two years removed from that and i think the paper looks quite different now. i say kudos to the scouts, the fans (even the angry ones because that shows you care about the damn team), and everyone else who contributes to the boards (unless it has nothing to do with hockey).

  78. dumpnchase Says:

    fnord,
    Agreed, and done. And I don’t think the Caps ever put a timetable to the rebuild plan. It was more about doing it right than doing it quickly.

  79. Andrew Says:

    I remember McPhee saying something about the rebuilding process a few years ago and maybe mentioned the Caps would be a playoff caliber team in three years. Don’t quote me but I think they did give a time table.

    fnord, I’m not quite sure about the coaching situation either but I think firing and not hiring a new special teams coach definitely had something to do with the pitiful power play and penalty kill last season.

    With Nylander added, who played for the Caps in 02-03 and had a 56 point season, I’m thinking this is a great boost for the young players on the team. Plus, Ovechkin should feel pretty good to have a veteran Russian on the team with Kozlov.

  80. Thomas Says:

    If the Caps sign another center than it should be either Glen Metropolit or Jaime Lundmark. You could get both of them for a pretty reasonable cost if your a hockey franchise.

  81. Thomas Says:

    I would put Lundmark on the B list. He can be a good back up first line scoring center.

  82. Thomas Says:

    Who is the best rival for the Caps besides Pittsburg?

  83. Stirling Says:

    I like the moves made. Would still like to see CAPS go after Yashin for depth purposes and the fact that OV, Yashin, Kozlov are insane together. More important is that I feel we need to get a first line D before the season starts.
    I am sure we won’t get Yashin but it would make sense if the price is right and is short term. Not holding my breath. Can only pass out so many times.
    Not sure the Caps will do anything else with the D at this point unless another team offers a trade. Gotta feeling it won’t be Edmonton. LOL!

    Would like to see Sutton or someone of that aggressive and defensive nature playing here. We have plenty of D but Erskine and Jurcina seem to be the only ones that clear a crease and play with an edge.

    I like puck moving D as much as anyone but playing in your own end with the puck never works. I like the moves but really hope they are not done. Got some excitement back in the CAPS and would like to see the follow through to have all the ingredients in place for a hard run this season.

    Depth at center! Keep up the good work. See you at the rink!

  84. dumpnchase Says:

    Stirling,
    The Yashin “interest” was far overblown in other areas of the media. The interest was for more on Yashin’s side than on the Caps’.

    I’m with you on the need for a physical defenseman, but hope it’s not Sutton.

  85. Funkyglovefacewash Says:

    Mike, I really enjoy your articles. Any longtime Caps fan knows that local
    coverage of the team sucks. Dump N Chase is the one place where the writers knowledge and enthusiasm for the Caps always comes through. As far as the
    signings , I can’t believe we got Nylander! I thought Poti and Kozlov were
    solid pick-ups but I really wanted Nylander, I would have been thrilled if we
    had gotten Drury( He was my only other A center), but I feel Nylander was the
    best playmaking center FA available. And for the price we paid GM should be
    arrested. All we need now is to convince some sucker team to give us a veteran
    big mean stay at home D-man for Eminger, Klepis, and one of our 2nd rd picks
    2008. I had my hopes on Hanan but I would have been upset if we payed that
    much for him, especially when we can probably acquire a bigger and better
    D-man for the prospects I mentioned above. Can you tell I’m not high on
    Eminger or Klepis? Anyway, to all of the naysayers please open your jaded
    little eyes so you may see that this orginization has NEVER been in such
    good shape top to bottom. The future couldn’t be brighter for the Caps. If
    you can’t get excited about Nylander setting up Ovechkin followed by
    Backstrom dishing to Semin, then maybe you should join the schmuck who
    wants to watch the Wizards. The Caps will be one of the top offensive teams
    this year and have all of the assets( cap space and prospect depth) to improve
    the D further through trades. Quit crying and enjoy the ride because the
    Caps are building a potential Dynasty here, not just a one shot contender.

  86. gustafsson Says:

    “toughhockey Says:
    July 2nd, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Dump n chase
    I take it your Vogel. Had I known it wa you I NEVER would have read it. ”

    Um…. on the front page… doesn’t every post have the title and then directly under the title have
    “Posted Month Day, Year by Mike Vogel”?

  87. dumpnchase Says:

    Funky,
    Thanks for the kind words, and I share your enthusiasm for the Caps’ work thus far this summer.

    Gus,
    I dunno. Maybe the correct spelling of my name is confusing.

  88. trailgoat Says:

    I enjoyed your article. Poti and Kozlov were steals in my opinion. Then add Nylander on top of those acquisitions–awesome! I can’t wait to see how the lines shape up. I do hope Fehr gets significantly more ice time this year. And Tomas Fleischmann. I loved Zubrus, and was sad to see he’s not coming back, but I actually think he is a better fit on a different team. I hope letting Novotny go doesn’t come back to bite us.
    I’m going to try and find more info on the up-and-coming goalies–Olie is great to root for–but injuries worry me. And Niklas Backstrom–Yes!!!
    Whomever mentioned a coaching change; I’m right there with you. I can’t stand Hanlon’s coaching style.
    Sure wish I could afford season tickets(and that I lived closer than I do (85 miles away)…as it is, I’ll have to be content to make 6-8 home games.

  89. Britt Says:

    I think that the caps made some wise decisions so far. All of the players they have picked up this free agency period will fit into the team perfectly. We already know that Nylander is a great playmaker and can score every now and then.
    About the season ticket stuff. I would pay any amount to go see the Caps for a whole season. I feel your pain trailgoat, I live not just 85 miles away but….too far to know how many miles (Hawaii).
    I’m excited to see how this season is going to turn out. I have high hopes for this team this season and in the future! Go Caps!

  90. Troy Says:

    Caps Rivals: I say #1 is Tampa Bay Lightning- I have hated them & St. Louis since they nocked us outa the playoffs a few years back. Other top rivals: Philly, Pittsburg, Atlanta, and New York Rangers if I had to say so myself.

    Lookin forward to this year, instead of having 2 players that can score goals-we now have 2 lines that can score goals. No more stacking defences on Ovie and Semin. Ovechkins stats went way down last year because teams learned hes our only true threat and kept him covered…can’t wait to see Nylander setting ovie up. If all goes well I think Ovie could be #1 in goals and Nylander #1 points over the next few years. Move over Gretzky, the Russians are coming.

    Stirling: Yashin is not the way to go, we have depth at center, if anything we could use a #2 RW or another Vet Blueliner. I think the caps are done with FA this year, my guess is midway through the season if we are in playoff contention we will probly make a trade or 2 to fill in the gaps.

  91. Thomas Says:

    I think the NY Rangers are definately really good rivals for the Caps and what’s a better match up than seeing the two youngest teams in the league battle for a playoff spot? I love the Pittsburg and Washington rivalry. Almost every night is guarented to have a big fight. I think the Flyers arn’t really the best rivals for the Caps. Instead, I think the Hurricanes are better rivals. I’d like to see who teams would choose to face against Yashin if the Caps did sign him. Shouldn’t they also add another veteran goalie?

  92. Thomas Says:

    Who is the hardest hitting defenseman on the free agent market and should the Caps try to pursue him?

  93. Thomas Says:

    I wish the Caps tried to pursue the other Kozlov too because if they put him on a line they would have to face two Kozlov’s in one night.

  94. Thomas Says:

    Opponents would have to face two Kozlov’s in one night.

  95. Jmann Says:

    I agree with Howard. The only issue needing to be addressed now is Hanlon. He does not have what it takes to take this team all the way. I don’t hate the guy and I would say he makes a damn good assitant or head AHL coach but he is not a great NHL coach his style is not working! Hell even Ron Wilson is making a statement out west. Please tell me there is a plan to replace Hanlon if he can’t get it done this year because with the talent we have and we are aquiring there is no reason we shouldn’t be a contender.

  96. Troy Says:

    I personally like Hanlon alot, and like how he embraces the physical aspects of the game using Brashear to our advantage, but I dont think we have given him a fair chance as a coach yet, if he can’t get it done this year with all this new talent, then we consider a new coach.

  97. john cole Says:

    Kozlov was on your “A” list? Please. He averaged 17 goals per yr over his career.
    25 goals last year was an aberration. Kozlov is a “sleeper”, as in L-A-Z-Y. This guy
    disappears more than Casper the Ghost.
    Go on, put lipstick on a pig. The smart fans know a company shill when they see one.

  98. OfftheIsland Says:

    Interesting how tughhockey has not posted since the Nylander signing- clearly the Caps are giving him too little to moan about and thus messing up his groove. The Nylander signing was a coup… and keeps enough powder dry to make an impact acquisition later, as needed.

    I really dig the the Caps approach toward their fans- the best businesses care about their customers- and I really get the impression Caps does. They are also smart and professional enough to address needs ahead of headlines, and grow the team. The un-Rangers.

    Tom Poti is “Serviceable” in every sense of the word (he’s smart and sees the ice very clearly). Great pick (that will be truly missed on the Island), but look elsewhere for flash and headlines (which your Russians provide just fine, thank you). Kozlov, on the otherhand, sometimes needs to be reminded that he is a hockey player- he could use more grit and sometimes seems hesitant to use his huge frame. Nolan excels at bringing out the grit- I’ll be interested to see how he does, going from orange-white and blue to red-white and blue.


  99. […] fans as to how the Caps fared in the swap of ex-Canadien goaltenders. That’s not surprising; it was the same way last season when the Caps signed free agents some of the fans perceived as […]


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