|Dennis Wideman during his tenure with the Bruins.|
First off, I like the trade for Wideman better of the two. With the news coming from George McPhee this afternoon that Mike Green is expected to miss at least the next two weeks, it became imperative for the Capitals to acquire a puck-moving defenseman to help bring their listless power play to life. Wideman fits that bill perfectly. Of his 33 points this year, 19 have come with the man advantage, and eight of his nine goals have come on the power play as well. He is a right-handed shot and he has some skating ability, too, and though he is not Mike Green, he should be a good replacement for him. Wideman can, at times, be an adventure in his own end, but he is still a good defenseman who should fill in admirably at even strength and shorthanded situations in addition to his power play duties; he can be expected to see about 25 minutes a game. Another benefit of his acquisition in general is that it will take a big load off of rookie John Carlson, who will no longer be forced to play the full two minutes while Washington is a man to the good. This decreased amount of minutes on Carlson will enable him to stay fresh as the Caps move towards the postseason, and not put so much pressure on him to run the power play, which is never good for a rookie. What's more, his presence could potentially mean that the Capitals are nine deep defensemen when (if) Mike Green and Tom Poti come back at full strength. Lastly, which is, in my opinion, the best part of the trade, the Capitals gave up almost nothing to get him. Jake Hauswirth was going to be a fourth line player at best, and a third round pick in this year's draft is not that steep a price for a puck-mover of Wideman's caliber, especially given the fact that he is under contract through next season. Grade: A.
The Capitals' second trade of the day, their acquisition of Jason Arnott, I like less, but it is still a good trade for Washington. Arnott is a veteran, reliable pivot who has been an NHL captain (in Nashville) and won a Stanley Cup (with New Jersey in 2000), so his addition to the locker room should be nothing but positive. He is a big body who has good defensive capability as well, and can score a little bit with 13 goals and 11 assists, even though he is well past his offensive prime. This fills a critical void for the Capitals; they have needed another center to complement their youthful potential all season long and Arnott is a good fit. He also has the potential to be rejuvenated playing with better players than he did in New Jersey, which he is certainly going to get in DC. The main issue I have with this trade is what we gave up - I really love Dave Steckel. He is one of the best faceoff men in the league and is a great guy who is a lifelong Cap. But his contract ($1.1 million per over the next 2 years) was not ideal, and he is kind of a one-trick pony. The second round draft pick is a bit high for a rental like Arnott in addition to Steckel, but it's not that big of a deal; the only reason I don't like this trade as much as the first one is because we gave up less to get a better player in Wideman in that trade. Grade: B.
In his post trade deadline press conference, George McPhee announced several things of interest for the Capitals this week and beyond. First, he revealed that the team is going to be very cautious with Mike Green as he works his way back from a concussion, and he is not expected back for two weeks at least. Second, he said that goaltender Semyon Varlamov will skate tomorrow and should be healthy enough to back up Michal Neuvirth. As a result, Jared DeMichiel has been sent back to Hershey. Third, he informed us that Tom Poti and Eric Fehr have both been placed on long-term injured reserves retroactively do their dates of injury, and can be activated at any time. He also announced that DJ King, Tyler Sloan, and Jay Beagle are all with the Caps to stay for the season, and will not be sent down to the American Hockey League, as the Washington is safely under the salary cap. Finally, he said that all three recent Washington acquisitions - Sturm, Wideman, and Arnott - will take the morning skate and are likely to play tomorrow against the Islanders. For a preview of that game, click here.
Now that team is set for the stretch run, let's see how the boys do. It's go time, folks.