Reactions to Capitals trade deadline moves

Let’s get one thing out of the way first; this was a boring deadline. Only 16 moves and a good few of them were only minor but my team made two pretty significant trades so I have to talk about it.

Going into the deadline, it’s been constantly refuted that the Capitals two biggest needs are a second line center and a puck-moving defenseman. After today, those voids were filled by Jason Arnott and Dennis Wideman and GM George McPhee was able to get both for fairly reasonable prices. Is this enough to get the Caps over the hump, though? Well, I wouldn’t say that either of these moves make them an elite team but they definitely look like a better team on paper than they did the past few weeks.

The Wideman trade came at almost the perfect time since Tom Poti was placed on LTIR (along with Eric Fehr, which explains how McPhee was able to make these trades) and Mike Green will be out for a few weeks after suffering another head injury. Aside from Carlson, we don’t really have any other defenseman that knows what to do with the puck and can create offense, Wideman brings that to the table. Granted, he didn’t have a good season for Boston last year but he is a very capable offensive defenseman and could definitely help the powerplay a little bit. That -26 rating is kind of scary but I think it has somewhat to do with the fact that he was playing the most minutes on an awful Florida Panthers team. In Washington, he will definitely see a lot of powerplay time and skate around 20 minutes a game but I don’t think he’ll be leading the team in ice time like in Florida. Either way, he fills a need and I think he’s a good addition to the team. Plus, we can dump Tyler Sloan once Mike Green comes back since I see no need to carry 8-9 defensemen. Also, Wideman had 12 points in 13 playoff games last year and has 33 points this season. For a defenseman, that’s pretty damn good. We also got him for only Jake Hauswith and a 3rd rounder. I was worried about us overpaying this deadline but McPhee certainly didn’t do that here. This is a border-line steal.

I’d imagine the defense pairings would look like this now:

Hannan-Schultz

Carlson-Alzner

Wideman-Erskine

at least for now. I’m sure that Boudreau will do some tweaking. Hannan and Schultz are developing into a solid defensive pairing so I don’t see any reason to split them up for now.

The Arnott trade was a little more “predictable” for lack of a better word. Caps needed a second line center, Devils are pretty much out of the playoff race and looking to deal expiring contracts and Arnott’s name was thrown around in trade rumors all season. This one was just waiting to happen. Arnott definitely brings what we’re looking for; can center our second line, decent playmaker, veteran experience, can play on the powerplay and he’s won before. There’s a few things that concern me, though. For one, he only has 24 points this season and 70 in the last two seasons. Obviously, if he’s going to get us over that hump he’ll have to be a lot better than that. He also has a long history of injuries and we don’t want to see that happen. Still, those 24 points are better than any other of our second line center options and we had to make a move at some point so this works for now. We only gave up a 2nd round pick and David Steckel for him, which isn’t a bad price at all (still confused that some people saw it as overpayment) so it’s not like we’ll be in a hole if Arnott doesn’t work out. I feel bad for Mathieu Perreault but he had his chance to stick on the roster and couldn’t so back to Hershey he goes. Thought he would be involved in one of these trades, honestly.

There’s also the addition of Marco Sturm, which could work out. It’s a low-risk, decent-reward acquisition and Sturm is likely just going to take the place of Eric Fehr. Whether that means he will play in the top 6 or on the 3rd line remains to be seen but I think he’d work best on the latter.

Either way, I could see all of the moves we made today boosting our offense and our powerplay, which is desperately needed and I like our defensive depth a lot more now with Wideman on the team. With Arnott and Sturm, here’s what I think the lines will look like:

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble

Laich-Arnott-Semin

Chimera-Johansson-Sturm

Hendricks-Gordon-Bradley

Definitely not bad at all. I really like our fourth line too since all three of those guys should make a solid checking/shutdown line. Just have to hope Boyd Gordon’s defense starts to look like it did in earlier seasons and less like it has lately.

When looking at the moves McPhee made this year and what we gave up compared to what we got in return, you have to like what you see:

Who we gave up

Tomas Fleischmann, David Steckel, Jake Hauswirth, 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick

Who we got:

Scott Hannan, Dennis Wideman, Jason Arnott, Marco Sturm

The team definitely looks a lot better now but we’ll just have to hope that everything works out now. We also avoid being in cap hell due to Poti and Fehr being moved to LTIR but that will change when one of them gets healthy. Acquiring Wideman doesn’t make Poti’s contract look good at all but I’m hoping that we can get something worked out soon.

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