Whether George McPhee’s job hangs in the balance over what the Caps do the rest of the season is pure speculation. However, I know this: If I am George McPhee, I’d be approaching this trade deadline as if my job does hang in the balance. The regression of this team over the past two years has been drastic and, if they miss the playoffs this season, the changes in the organization before training camp next year could be as well.
The Caps won’t be trading for Rick Nash
Stop. No way. 0% chance. I’m not even sure why the possibility of this happening has even been mentioned. I thought the Prince Fielder to the Orioles rumors would take the cake for the most unrealistic local sports talk for the next few years. Turns out those rumors have been topped. First of all, the asking price is sure to be something far beyond what would make sense for the Caps. I’d guess it’d start with a 1st round pick, Carlson/Orlov/Alzner (pick one) and a young center who wears #90 (more on him in a bit). That right there is way too much and I’m not convinced that would get it done. More importantly, acquiring Rick Nash would do nothing to even remotely address what this team needs. The last thing the Caps need is another winger, even if that winger is an elite player.
The Caps should trade for Jeff Carter
This Carter-to-Caps talk has come up a lot recently, but for good reason. It makes sense. I’ve been a huge proponent of McPhee’s general trade deadline philosophy of bringing in the right part at the right time for the right price. He hasn’t given up valuable long-term assets, hasn’t locked the club into any long/bad contracts all while making moves that seemed to adequately address what the team needs. However, the 2nd line center issue has become the Achilles heel for a team that just can’t seem to get over the hump when it matters. Eric Belanger, Jason Arnott and Sergei Fedorov all made sense and were in line with the philosophy spelled out above. The problem is none of these guys put the team over the hump and now this team stands in danger of missing the playoffs and that could very well cost McPhee his job. So, while a guy like Saku Koivu or Derek Roy involves a lot less risk for the Caps, it is in line with an approach we have seen fail repeatedly. The time has come for McPhee to stop making the safe and smart play at the deadline and make a bold all-in type move.
The Caps should not consider trading away any of their top 4 young d-men
True, John Carlson has had a rough year. And yes, the day will eventually come when the Caps can’t afford Carlson, Karl Alzner, Dmitri Orlov and Mike Green. But that day is not today and the Caps have time until their hand is forced on this issue. They do run the risk of holding onto an asset only to see it depreciate in value but I’m willing to take that risk when it comes to these 4 guys. These 4, and a couple other players, would be the untouchables if I’m George McPhee.
The Capitals should consider trading Marcus Johansson
Keep reading. Even if you disagree, in the end you may at least understand that I’m not insane to suggest this. First and foremost, I’m not advocating trading Johnansson. However, I’m also not willing to take the idea off the table under all circumstances. One of those circumstances is a deal that brings the Caps a player who could fill the 2C spot for at least the next five years (see: Carter, Jeff). I wouldn’t trade Johansson for Koivu, Roy or any other possible short-term fix at 2C. I’d only advocate trading our likely future 2C if in return we get a 2C who is the closest thing to an instant sure-fix as you can get. Yes, we’d miss him. Yes, he could become the 2C that we’ve longed for for entirely too long. But the simple fact right now is that Johansson is not a solution at 2C and Jeff Carter is. To be clear, I’m not even suggesting we dangle Johansson as bait for Carter. What I am saying is that if his inclusion in a package for Carter was a make or break thing for the Blue Jackets, I’d make the deal.
It will be very interesting to see what McPhee does over the next couple of weeks. The one thing that appears to be certain is that it’ll be anything but boring.