Now that the All-Star Game has come and gone, the next major date in the calendar is Feb. 26. That day at 3 p.m. is the NHL trade deadline.
It may be hard to believe, but the NHL season is now in full playoff mode. Either you are in a push for the postseason or you are gearing up to sell your assets to the highest bidder.
So what should the Caps do? Should the Caps make a move at this year’s deadline or should they sit this one out?
Earlier Tuesday, we looked at why the Caps should make a move. Now it’s time to look at why they should stand pat.
Most of the time, these moves don’t pan out. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to see what deadline moves the Caps have made during the Alex Ovechkin era:
2008- Sergei Fedorov, Cristobal Huet, Matt Cooke
2010- Eric Belanger, Scott Walker, Joe Corvo, Milan Jurcina
2011- Dennis Wideman, Jason Arnott
2013- Martin Erat, Michael Latta
2014- Dustin Penner, Jaroslav Halak
2015- Tim Gleason, Curtis Glencross
2016- Mike Weber, Daniel Winnik
2017- Kevin Shattenkirk, Tom Gilbert
How many of those deadline deals ended up having a positive impact on the Caps in terms of the postseason? The Caps do not make the playoffs in 2008 without Fedorov and Huet and the Winnik deal was more about shipping out Brooks Laich's contract than anything else, but other than that, none of these moves inspire much confidence. That’s not an indictment of the Caps, that’s just the nature of trade deadline deals.
Hockey is a difficult game. It can be very hard for players to adjust to new teams and they essentially have a month to do it before the playoffs. For most players, that is just not enough time. The Caps should not be in a rush to add more names to this list for us to groan about in the years to come.
Part of the package to bring in Shattenkirk was a first-round draft pick. The Caps lost a first-round draft pick for a player who played in Washington for a month. Mike Weber was a depth pickup and he cost them a third-round draft pick. Glencross? A second and a third.
And let’s not even go into what it cost to get Erat.
The players may be rentals, but the cost of acquiring significant payers at the deadline is still pretty steep, especially when you consider just how brief they will be in Washington. Most teams will know which players are available and that starts a bidding war.
Want Mike Green to return to Washington? He is an all-star defenseman on the final year of his deal on a team with no hope of making the playoffs.Everyone knows he is available and he will end up going to the highest bidder.
If Green does return to the Caps, it will almost certainly be as a bottom-pair defenseman. Is he worth the cost it will take to rent his services for a relatively minor role?
Obviously no one will care what those players cost if Washington wins the Stanley Cup, but, in general, buyers end up overpaying for players who have minimal impacts and who do not stick around for very long. A first-round draft pick is more valuable than a player who will only be on your team for one or two months or perhaps even less.
The Caps do not have many assets to sell
Even if the Caps wanted to go all-in again this season and be major buyers at the trade deadline, they do not have a whole lot of assets to offer.
Ilya Samsonov and Lucas Johansen are the team’s two best prospects and both should be considered untouchable. There are not many other prospects who will net Washington a significant return in a trade.
As for draft picks, even if the window has not yet closed on the Alex Ovechkin era, it won't not last forever. Those draft picks are becoming more and more valuable for the Caps in terms of building up the next core for a post-Ovechkin team.
What about trading players on the roster?
The obvious candidate is Philipp Grubauer, but the goalie market remains cold and it would be hard to move him. Even if they could, they may not want to without clear backup plan in place for this season. They thought they had one at the beginning of the season in Pheonix Copley, but a lackluster season in Hershey may make them rethink that. Jakub Vrana’s ceiling is too high to sell now. Maybe the team could part with Andre Burakovsky, but what would he net them at this point?
Let other teams overpay for rental players. That is a mistake the Caps don't need to make again.
Which way do you lean when it comes to the trade deadline? Tell us what you think!
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