Tomas Vokoun, G, Fla - I think if you ask any coach if they are at all happy with their goaltending going into the playoffs there would be that one ping of "eh?" in the back of their brain. In fact, true of most tournaments, the hottest goaltender is usually what carries a team through the toughest battles. Right now for the Caps, goaltending is a concern. No clear number one goaltender has stepped forward between Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov. But Vokoun carries a $6.3 million albatross contract with him. He might be a rental for some playoff team but I doubt it will be the Caps.
Jaroslav Halak, G, StL - Well, if you can't beat 'em... I don't think the Blues are willing to part a player they signed to a 4 year contract. Even though you could think of him as a steal at $2.75 million, his contract ramps to $4.5 in the final year.
Danius Zubrus, F, NJ - It is interesting to say the least. Reunite Alex Ovechkin with a big strong forward he started his career with. An experienced Ovi with Zubrus who seems to be solid but nothing sparky for the Devils. Zubrus still has a couple of years on his contract at $3.4 million. Sometimes there are reasons GMs part with players like that, and I think George McPhee had his reasons.
Jason Arnott, F, NJ - Arnott is an interesting player because he is a proven leader and his experiences of winning Cups on two different teams is very invaluable. But I look down the bench at Mike Knuble that has been here, similar player. Does he fill the role any differently than Knuble does? I guess I can't really answer that question ('cause I'm not a gm). But if I had the chance to take Arnott, I would.
Scott Gomez, F, Mtl - Gomez may have fallen out of favor in Montreal with the fans, but I don't think a straight up Semin for Gomez makes any kind of sense. Gomez has 3 years still left on his contract and yes the price does drop eventually to below $3 million. But as you can see, it is for good reason.
Alexei Kovalev, F, Ott - This 37 year old Semin-type play maker might make for a good spark to the lagging Caps' offense. But just like Semin, he can often disappear like magic for games on end. His $5 million contract would be a heavy load to bear.
Tomas Kaberle, D, Tor - Kaberle is a solid defenseman with some separation issues. He won't waive his trade clause for just anybody and gm Brian Burke is trying to get the most for him too. The rumors today went into high gear (and he could have been traded in the span of writing this post). But the Caps would have to give up some talent in return. McPhee doesn't need him that badly.
Marty Reasoner, F, Fla - If the Caps are looking for a second line center, Reasoner could anchor a second line in the NHL. I doubt if he will add much to scoring, but if he stays above 50% on faceoffs a game, plays solid two way (score-a-goal or stop-a-goal a game) he could bring some stability to the Caps top two lines. But there is a little history there that McPhee wouldn't want to open.
The Outrageous: Ilya Kovalchuk (you want that contract on your team?), Patrick Marleau (I think the sharks need him), one of the Sedins (uh, no), Sean Avery (seriously?), Matt Cooke (WTF?), Richard Zednik (he went home), Peter Bondra (I throw that one in as a joke, there is still some guy from MD who says he can play).
The Rumor "What the Caps need most is..."
- A defenseman - I had this conversation on Twitter with Japer's Rink yesterday about the need for another defenseman. I think we were both saying the same thing, just in different ways. What I was aiming for in my statement that the Caps really don't need another big time D man to put the Caps in a cap crunch.
- Second-line center - Ding, ding, ding. Winner. The Caps need to find someone who can anchor that second line. Bringing stability to it would encompass all three of the attributes I spouted off under my thoughts on Reasoner. Good on the face off dot, can score a goal from time to time and can hustle back to stop one every now and then too.
- Goaltender - It might be true, but I have a feeling that McPhee is content to let the kids duel it out to the bitter end. Maybe from the ashes something can by salvaged.
- Change in coaching - A slight change in the way the system should be coached, sure. Axing Bruce Boudreau would just make the players sad. Aww.
- Change in gm - Let's see, you have a slew of prospects bottle-necked at the AHL level, a team that despite losing a good chunk of their offensive production still finding ways to win and a great hair do. I think McPhee gets to keep his job for the time being.