All In

In the Texas Hold ‘Em parlance, the Caps are all in. By adding goaltender Cristobal Huet, center Sergei Fedorov and checking forward Matt Cooke, the Caps have made a statement: they want to make the playoffs this year.

They’ve also laid out about $2 million in salary for the remainder of the season.

Talks are ongoing, and there’s still time on the clock. We may or may not be finished here.

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27 Comments on “All In”

  1. JT Says:

    Something has to happen with Olie or Johnson, doesn’t it?

  2. pgreene Says:

    part of me would feel really bad if eminger didn’t get a ticket out of town. the one guy who really wants out has to stick around?

    all the gmgm haters have to be stewing today. he has proven, once again, he is one of if not the shrewdest gm in the league when it comes to trades.

  3. Matt Says:

    All without taking anything off their roster.

    The goalie situation will certainly be interesting. We’ll see how thick everyone’s skin is.

  4. gusty161 Says:

    I don’t want to brag, but I did predict the Federov deal a couple of days ago on this very same blog.. It just made too much sense. Now, does that mean Kozlov moves back to the first line and Federov centers Semin?

  5. Mike L Says:

    I know the talking is over, but will there be anything more from the Caps? The goaltending situation is really an issue as I doubt the Caps want to carry three of them the rest of the year. Laying out $2M is nice though.

    Also, any word on who might make it for tonight’s game from the acquisitions? I would expect that Fedorov has the easiest trip, coming from Ohio, with their playing the Sharks tomorrow at home. Huet would be in Montreal getting ready to play Atlanta, and Cooke has to travel from Vancouver, so for those two, there are customs issues.

    It’d be fun to see #91 out there tonight…

  6. pgreene Says:

    the undertaker owns all. it is absolutely beyond me how people are able to pan mcphee so roundly. the guy simply beats hell out of the league on trades. honestly, is anyone better at it? even the drafting appears to be coming around. that, and he’s getting the core signed for long term deals.

    so someone tell me what he’s bad at again?

  7. Funkyglovefacewash Says:

    pgreene- the only problem I see is that soon no teams will even talk to him about a trade because they know they’ll wind up on the losing end. I’m sure the Montreal authorities have an APB out on Mcphee right now for grand theft. Go Caps!

  8. strungout Says:

    I really like the Giroux pick up for the Bears. Great behind the scenes move right there.

  9. notfadeaway Says:

    You people are crazy. Huet was a good pickup, but the other two were not exactly the most sought after players… and all three are UFA, which means the teams were taking something rather than getting nothing in the offseason.

    Nothing shrewd about these moves. I’m happy with them, but McPhee has, once again, completely ignored the biggest glaring hole in the team. This has been one of the worst defensive teams for almost a decade.

    Happens to coincide with when the Caps stopped making the playoffs. If they miss out again this year, McPhee needs to go.

  10. LongShots5 Says:

    The Caps are deep in defensive propsects (Alzner, Godfrey, Lepisto), not to mention guys like Green and Shultz, and they all need time to mature. You don’t build a Championship caliber defensive corps overnight. I’m glad GMGM is staying with the rebuild plan. Because he’s doing this, we can look forward to having a very strong defense in 2-3 years. It takes patience my friend……

  11. BEARS......WOOOO!!!! Says:

    I agree with notfadeaway. I do like the trades for the value at which we got them. However put out a roadcone and you would have better results than what you get with Shultz, Erskine is an absolute mess. Lepisto should be here full-time and let him play with a guy like Poti or Morrisonn. Seeing the Shultz and Erskine is like going through Pennsylvania road construction nothing but roadcones.

  12. pgreene Says:

    there were a ton of impact defensemen moved today. so i can definitely understand being upset with gmgm for not landing one of them.

    *sigh*

  13. Luc Bertrand Says:

    Wow! The only word I can find to qualify GMGM’s work is unbelievable. I knew his main mission was to preserve the nucleus of what is likely to become one of the NHL’s next hockey dynasties, but I never figured out he could get such reinforcement for so little.

    No, my forecast will not change (I wish I am wrong!). With Cristobal Huet, the Caps now have a proven goalie who can make a difference in the playoffs. Sergei Fedorov will be more than a suitable replacement for Michael Nylander at center, which, as Gusty161 said above, will provide two strong offensive lines. I however regret Matt Pettinger’s departure, as I appreciated his hard working style. For sure, this was a very bad season for him and I hope Matt Cooke will be more successful.

    The bottom line doesn’t change for me: yes, I’m glad George McPhee could get impact players (without sacrifying any key player or rising prospect in the process) who will help the team right now in the coming playoffs. But no, I don’t expect the Caps will win the Cup this year. As I wrote before, the team was more than a good goaltender away from it, its defense is still too weak and the offense lacks of depth, the losses of Semin, Clark and Nylander proved it throughout the season.

    If the Caps fail to make the playoffs or are eliminated early, the real problem will be to find who among Olaf Kolzig, Huet and Brent Johnson should be kept during next Summer to ensure the organization’s best hopes in the net can develop without being pressed too much as number one goalie. Even though Olie didn’t have his best season, I believe he has given too much of himself to the team to be drafted. I also appreciate Brent Johnson’s team spirit as number two goalie and I think his figures largely justify the Caps to keep him. Huet will undoubtedly represent an asset for a further trade this Summer. He is definitely worth of more than a second round draft pick.

  14. dmg Says:

    “Nothing shrewd about these moves. I’m happy with them, but McPhee has, once again, completely ignored the biggest glaring hole in the team.”

    …you know Huet is a goalie, right? 😉

  15. RedWhiteBlueHockey Says:

    Huet for a late 2nd round pick (Anaheim’s) was a steal. Kolzig is a great guy, but .888 save pct ?? Something had to be done to salvage the season. Leonsis/GMGM are classy enough guys to understand the need to treat Kolzig with the respect he is due. They’ve managed to tactfully deal with an awkward situation. It’s better to be replaced by an all-star goalie than your backup

    Fedorov for Ted Ruth (Babe’s great-great grand nephew BTW) – can’t argue with that. Now Victor K. can move back to 1st line RW where he, Ovie and Backstrom were clicking together. With Fedorov now centering Semin on the 2nd line, the former will provide the latter with the adult supervision that he needs. Who better to show Semin how to play the game than a true Russian hockey legend?

    I disagree with the Petty deal. Here’s a quote from XUTHL’s posting on THN.com, “Matt Cooke is not tough. He is a cheap shot artist, and it becomes necessary for ACTUAL tough players to fight his battles every night because he damn sure won’t do it!” Not standing up for yourself – that is NOT Cap hockey. Pettinger is a speedy and tough player who put together back-to-back 20 goal seasons. Why give up on him – he’s young and Cooke is old and more expensive. Do we really need another guy taking stupid penalties? That’s Semin’s and Morrison’s job for God’s sake!!

  16. Tom in FL Says:

    The price for Huet was neither cheap nor expensive. It’s the law of supply and demand. Montreal offered him up and the Caps made the best offer – a low 2nd rounder. Huet is a UFA in several months. Sure, in earlier years, teams were paying more for these soon-to-be UFAs, like when Nashville gave us a #1 for Witt. That picked turned out to be Varlamov. Then Nashville gave up all kinds of talent last year to rent Forsberg for 20 games. Teams are learning these are bad moves for the long run. Even these #2s will turn into, eventually, Sami Lepisto type players (he was 66th overall I think when he was drafted). Thing is, you have to wait 4 years or so for them to develop, so it’s a trade off, and the Caps organization is loaded with #1, 2 and 3 draft choices, so you give up a pick, a Ted Ruth and another year of Pettinger for three loaner guys. The Caps at this point are a longshot to make the playoffs, let alone win, but the players have done a super job to get where they are and they deserve the opportunity to win. The team was getting demoralized I feel and just knowing these new guys were coming invigorated them last night. And if Federov were to come back next year, what better place than the Caps with Ovechkin and Semin? Plus, you can offer Huet two years at $4M each or thereabouts. Johnson has one more year and then Varlamov comes in as back-up. Then Huet would give you one more year, and the other young goalie comes in after that. If there’s one thing the Caps need to get in free agency or through trade this offseason, it’s the best approximation of 1982 style Rod Langway you can find. No, Karl Alzner will not be that person – at least not for a few years. Green is great at providing offense; Poti, Pothier and Morrisonn are very serviceable players who could play on a Cup winner; and the other guys are fine as #6-7 blueliners. But the Caps sorely need that big, rugged guy who can clear out the crease like Langway and Stevens used to do. A Top 10 goalie would help, too, although maybe Huet can be that guy. He has been in the recent past, anyway. One or two moves and this team can go all the way.

  17. dmg Says:

    Tom,

    I’d have to disagree with your supply and demand approach to things because acquiring an asset can be cheap or costly relative to your own assets independent of supply and demand; something being cheap or expensive is not the same as it being over- or under- valued. For example, the Penguins gave up two young players, a good prospect and a first round draft pick for Hossa. Clearly this is “market value” for Hossa since it’s what he was traded for, but it’s also clear that he was an “expensive” acquisition since the Pens had to surrender a good number of assets to acquire him.

  18. Tom in FL Says:

    Well, then, you have to analyze to relative value of Huet vs. Hossa. Surely we can agree that Huet was less costly than Hossa. The Ducks will end up near the top, so the pick the Caps traded was like #56-60 in the draft. “Cheap” and “expensive” from an economic standpoint (I’m not a professor, just a professional in the field) don’t depend on absolute dollars spent. A gold bracelet can be “cheap” at $500 while a plastic bracelet can be “expensive” at $10. The Pens are going for broke, so they traded a high number of assets for one player they think can take them to the Cup. OTOH, Huet has shown the ability in the past to have enough talent that if he were to “get hot,” he could take a team far. To be honest, I believe the Caps could be better having gotten Huet than if they had gotten Hossa.

    It would really help the equation if the Caps could sign Huet to be the #1 goalie for 2008-2010. Johnson is signed through ’09 and then Varlamov comes in 09-10 and you start him in 10-11 with Neuvirth as back-up.

  19. dmg Says:

    I see what you’re saying and I agree that just as a old bracelet can be “cheap” at $500 while a plastic bracelet can be “expensive” at $10, giving up a first round draft pick for a top tier player (this is a hypothetical) would make them “cheap” while giving up the same pick for a fourth liner would make that player “expensive”. To use an actual example, it seems to me that relative to their actual value, Sutherby was an expensive acquisition for Anaheim while Huet was a cheap one for the Capitals. Of course, having redefine the terms “cheap” and “expensive” for each player and scenario gets to be a huge pain and the semantics of it can easily change the discussion from trade value to…well, semantics, so the terms overvalued and undervalued are much clearer, IMO.

    I think you can put an inherent value on assets (players and picks) controlled by a hockey team if you work with the context of opportunity cost; this is what I initially meant when I said the Hossa trade was “expensive”. I think it’s fair to assume that the one only source of utility for a hockey team is team ability or performance and if that’s the case, the opportunity cost of the Hossa trade is huge for the Penguins since the players (and pick) they sent out represent a whole lot of potential team ability or increase in performance. As for the Capitals, a second round pick is decent asset but it’s not a blue chipper by any means and so the odds that it will significantly affect the Capitals ability and chance to win hockey games is fairly small.

    The funny thing is, if you think about it in those terms it makes the Penguins look real bad. I would imagine that the utility curve for team success if probably kind of funny looking – the marginal rate of utility per point if a team goes from 60 to 70 points is obviously going to be lower than in the 85-95 range, which is in turn probably higher than the 105-115 point range (the playoff issue really throws a kink in there). With Hossa, I don’t think the Penguins go any further than they would have otherwise (maybe one playoff round), but the potential ability they gave up will almost certainly come back to bit them…so it’s probably “not worth it” to have given up what the Pens did for Hossa, so it’s probably a bad trade. For the Caps it’s the exact opposite – they probably won’t miss much because of that second round pick but Huet makes them better this year and might make them better for the next 2-4 if they re-sign him, as you mentioned.

    But really, the important thing2 are (1) The Pens hurt their future ability and we won’t have to suffer through a Cup coming to Pittsburgh this year to enjoy them having less success than they otherwise would in the future and (2) damn, that Huet trade was a good move for the Capitals. Let’s hope they get a start on negotiations with Huet post haste!

  20. Funkyglovefacewash Says:

    The Caps ‘biggest glaring hole’ on the team is our goaltending, not our D. Our D has improved from last year and will only get better. Kolzig has become a liability(I love ’em for all his years of service for us), and Huet is the perfect candidate to carry this team for 2-3 yrs. while Neuvirth/Varlamov develop. We now have 4+ months to try and sign him before anyone else. I, like many of you, also liked Pettinger and think he could score 20 G again if he were ever a 1st or 2nd line regular but that wouldn’t happen again with us because we now have far more skilled forwards than he, so 3rd line is the best he would get and he’ll never score 20 on the 3rd line. I’ve never been a fan of Cooke for the same reasons as most(is a punk, cheap shots, bad penalties ect.), but GM thought we needed an agitator and GM was right. The league is full of checkers but short on true agitators and our team could use one as bad as anyone. They can make the other teams stars get off their game and take bad penalties. How many of you remember the game when ‘Killer’ Kamensky made Mario Lemieux so mad he punched him at which point Kamensky did his patented move(curl up in a fetal position on the ice), which caused Lemieux to completely lose it and start wailing away at him. Guess who got the extra minor. It’s been too long since the Caps have had an effective agitator. Federov is another solid pick-up that fills a need. It’s funny, for all of the whining some people have done about these moves the one that you could make a reasonable argument about is us giving up Ruth for Federov, but most of the complainers probably don’t even have a clue how good of a prospect he is.

  21. Roy Hobbs Says:

    Fedorov and Cooke are for 2008, Huet is for now and the immediate future.

    You won’t see Kolzig back in 2009, as a free agent at 37 he simply isn’t worth an extension at the kind of dollars he will be looking at based on his numbers this season.

    Hopefully, Fedorov’s arrival will allow the Caps to move Kozlov back to RW where he scored 25 goals for the Islanders last year. While he can play center, he is more effective as a winger and right now the Caps need goal scorers from the right side.

    Cooke was brought in here to keep the locker room lively and provide some fire to what is for the most part a very young and quiet hockey club. Nothing focuses a team tha is drifting (as the Caps do in games) as a guy that plays the body and adds a physical dimension. If Cooke can score the occasional garbage goal in front of the net that Pettinger wasn’t getting to go in, so much the better.

  22. Tom in FL Says:

    DMG: You make a good point on opportunity cost. The opportunity cost of acquiring Huet is we miss out on a Teddy Ruth or Sami Lepisto, as they are the kinds of players you get with a low second rounder. And you point out how much the Pens gave up (a LOT) for a few weeks of Hossa. The wildcard in the debate is that some of the assets can be replaced other than through the draft, i.e. through free agency. So, the Pens will miss out on having Esposito develop on their team, with a “cheap” three-year contract to start, and have to sign a free agent winger instead (like Zubrus, as an example) for maybe $3M a year. So, you see, a team can use free agency to replace the assets they relinquish in a trade deadline deal, but those players will cost way more money. That is the true opportunity cost of acquiring Hossa – it could be an extra ten million or so to acquire free agent vets who cost much more than Armstrong and Esposito. Eventually then the Pens will come up against the cap and they will lose one of their players, like Tampa had to trade Brad Richards, because of it.

    I also like the additional of Federov, as Kozzie can now play RW, maybe on the top line (he was most effective there). Federov-Flash-Semin make a very nice #2 line. Laich and Fehr make the third line, but weren’t they playing extremely well of late with Flash? Maybe you put the agitator Cooke with Fedorov and Semin. Boudreau will be earning his money to figure this out, plus the goalies, although I will guess that Huet starts Friday night and will play most of the games if he does well.

    And Cooke, someone pointed out, the Caps through the years would always get hot after picking up one of these agitator guys. I remember back in ’91 they called up someone (John Somebody??? They later found him dead in Quebec I think) and he was just smashing people everywhere. He was in the game against Philly when Hunter got a five-minute charging major for stapling some puny Flyer D-man (#5, can’t recall his name either) into the end boards and then the game had like six different fights, Iafrate, Sabourin maybe, really great game, Caps beat ’em. Kamensky was another one. We’ll see how it works.

  23. Tom in FL Says:

    One more thing, nobody’s mentioned, but Huet can probably keep the same goalie pads.

  24. Tom in FL Says:

    I think it was Gord Murphy who was plastered by Hunter. And the agitator the Caps had then, I think it was John Kordic. If I recall, the first six games he played, he got tossed from several and the Caps maybe won them all. He was eventually derailed I believe by personal issues.

  25. Mike L Says:

    Kordic played 7 games with the Caps and accummulated 101 PIM in those 7 games, which projected out to 82 games is 1,183 PIM for a season. A lot of those PIMs came in that game with Philly which, at the time, was the game with the second-most PIM in NHL history (I think it’s been passed twice since then). Hunter slugged Gord Murphy after he was woozy from running into the boards as part of the game.

    The interesting thing about Kordic’s tenure was that the Caps went 5-1-1 in those 7 games. Hopefully Matt Cooke can bring that kind of winning percentage without the other baggage that Kordic carried with him…

  26. gusty161 Says:

    Didn’t Kordic die from a drug overdose?


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