Long time Bruin GM Harry Sinden once said of late season trades, "Moving-van trades, I call them, because the moving-van companies are the only ones that make out well. Neither team benefits." With the trade deadline looming, the Capitals may not take any of Sinden's advice and will look for some help down the stretch. But where do they need it and from who?
The first priority the Caps need to fill, in my opinion, is the lack of grit among the forward lines. Donald Brashear adds muscle and policing but you really need an agitator that can play well enough to sit on the second or third line. Last season, Matt Cooke filled that role to a tee. He was versatile enough to be used on the third and checking line as well as some penalty killing duties. We could be talking a Sean Avery-type character, but I don't think the Capitals have the patience to deal with that much character.
Who would be available? Good question. It's been a tough season for the Colorado Avalanche and Ian Laperriere could be an interesting pick there. No one would doubt Laperriere's toughness or his grit, but he also brings in Stanley Cup experience. He only has 14 points through 45 games but he is a +4 and brings in 96 PIMs. But it's too early for the Ave's to talk about being a seller as they are still only 5 points from a playoff spot.
Second priority seems to be already in the works for the Capitals and that is the unproven defensive line. With Chris Clark out, it frees up enough cap space to pull up Karl Alzner who now can be considered a top 2 or 3 defenseman for the Caps. George McPhee also picked up Staffan Kronwall off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs (which, I am sure, puts him in the good graces of Brian Burke). The Capitals could make a trade for a bigger named defenseman closer to the deadline, preferably one that adds more toughness to the blue line.
Third would be goaltending. That priority, if it is one at all, has been less and less prominent due to Jose Theodore's excellent play of late. If we were talking 3 months ago, we might be more concerned about who was in front of the cage for the Caps with Theo's numbers looking dismal and Brent Johnson was looking more like the starter than the one we were actually spending money on. JT60 is playing with a little bit more confidence and is swallowing up rebounds.
Being on the look out for a good deal will be hard. Long time St. Louis Blues defensman Bob Plager nailed it on the head when talked about how "Everybody's out to trade a row boat for a battleship." The Caps are looking to keep their prospects but improve their team at the same time.