There is a huge split among Caps fans about how they’re doing in the offseason. It’s the sports version of Team Jacob vs. Team Edward (and I can’t believe I typed that). One half of Caps fans love the Caps silent approach, while the other half want something to be done in the free agent frenzy. There is no right or wrong method but there are two strong, valid points of view.
The Quiet Approach
Fans have love this team for almost 5 years (after the lockout) and the team has got better each year (except this past season, but that can be debated). Why not ruin success, just have the same team and hope they get better. Also, adding Alzner, Carlson, and Neuvirth full-time will make a team younger and one of the defensive pairings set for a long time with Alzner-Carlson. Just add one more piece and the team could contend again for the Cup.
The Impact Approach
Since the Caps went out in the first round, people are asking for an impact player. Caps went for not as Paul Martin and Zbyněk Michálek went to Pittsburgh, Dan Hamhuis went to Vancouver, and the stake that drove some Caps fans hearts, Anton Volchenkov signs a $4.25 Million deal with the Devils. Some thought Volchenkov was one of the two missing pieces to Cup title run for the Caps. By that, fans were in an uproar and asking for McPhee’s head (and took it to Ted Leonsis’s email).
In my opinion, it is alright to keep a team the same…if they’re close to a Cup or won the Cup, which the Caps are nowhere near. To me, the Washington Capitals are the Phoenix Suns of the NHL: exciting to watch, but can’t win championships. It was telling that Bruce Boudreau mention last year they were “5 to 6 passengers.” I can accept 1 or 2, but 5-6 is insane. It’s either the coach or the players to blame. In this case, the coach did not have a “playoff” philosophy, while most of the players did not perform under pressure, hence blowing a 3-1 to Montreal.
If the players won’t change, how about a philosophy for more grit on this team? Do you believe all 23 players will change for a more “playoff-ready” philosophy? There will be some who like it, but don’t expect all to follow, which people should be more concerned about. This is where I like this report from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:
The Washington Capitals have to re-sign several restricted free agents who filed for arbitration Monday, including Tomas Fleischmann, Eric Fehr and Jeff Schultz. This might be crucial because, as the Washington Post writes, “Some teams, including the Caps, have a reputation for being ruthless in their arguments.”
There was some previous speculation that the Caps could shop Fleischmann but, unless talks go sour, it doesn’t look like that’s happening. However, we know the Caps will look for a defenseman in the free agent or trade markets, so there might be some kind of move coming soon.
If that’s the case, I hope we trade Jizz to the Stars for Brad Richards on the high-end or trade him to a couple of St. Louis Blues players (Oshie, Berglund, Backes, Brewer since all of them are free agents next year), the Kings for Handzus, or any other combination and the team looks very different before the season starts.
I have patience with Ted and George on these moves and they know what to do since they have all the information and if free agency is dry, so be it. However, don’t tell me keeping the same roster is an option before the season starts. The mindset has to change from opening night and can be altered during the season. McPhee can say, “We got 121 points last year because we’re a pretty good team and we don’t really need a lot.” That’s fine, but D.C. doesn’t want a good team, D.C. wants a champion.