Thursday, June 21, 2007

To Market, To Market

July 1 cannot come soon enough, I promise you - not for Caps fans, at least.

For us it's been a long, cold, lonely winter that dwindled into a longer spring. But with the warmth of summer comes the promise of a new day, made better by the fact that July 1 is a relatively low-risk date for the Caps this year. Usually I cower in fear that one of my beloved boys will ship out (à la Jeff Halpern before last season). This year, however we had only one unrestricted free agent, and that was the always entertaining but completely useless Bryan Muir, our so-called "veteran" defenseman. With the resigning of Josef "Boomer" Boumedienne and the gradual evolution of our young'uns, Bryan's stay in DC is officially kaput.

So we here in DC turn our eyes to the juicy field of free agents...or do we? Both the owner and GM of the Caps have publicly said that it's cheaper and often better in the long run to acquire players by trade rather than spending wads of cash on what ultimately ends up being a rent-a-player. Personally I'd hope they would explore both options, and here are my favorites:

By trade
The Caps have been stockpiling picks and prospects for a rainy day, and by all accounts it's pouring this summer. The question becomes just how much will the Caps have to give up and will it cost them in the long run...

- Michael Nylander - There's a buzz around the NHL that the Rangers may not re-sign the man who epitomizes the term "dangle", and apparently he just parted ways with his agent on the eve of a new deal that would have kept him in the Big Apple. If that's true, I'd love to see him back with the Caps for a second stint, partly to provide a center who actually can set up plays to someone as fabulous as Ovechkin and partly to provide mentorship to another Swedish center who will don the red, white and blue this season - Nicklas Backstrom.

- Robert Lang - Okay, yes, there's a bit of a former Caps theme going here, but I can't help it. Lang is one of those guys who always has a smile on his face yet can dazzle you with his skills, and I'd welcome him back with open arms. My only gripe with Lang would be his tendency to underachieve in the playoffs. As my sister describes his play during his one postseason run with the Caps: "He just stood there! What the hell was that??" Of course, this is the Caps so I'm not sure how much of an issue that will be...they have to make the playoffs first.

- Patrick Marleau - I just love Marleau. Classy guy, great player, good leader - everything I want in my team. He may not have lived up to expectations this postseason but he's got history on his side and I'm guessing his brief lack of production won't dissuade GMs from going after him. Down side? Marleau will be an unrestricted free agent after next season and probably wouldn't stay unless given big bucks, which I'm sure the Caps will have earmarked for a hefty raise for Ovechkin and Semin. Plus I have a feeling a trade for Marleau would force the Caps to give up a number of young prospects that they can't really afford to give up right now.

Free Agency
Free agents are kind of a tricky thing for Caps' fans - usually the only ones we can lure to our nation's capital are the ones no one else wants, the second or third (or even fourth) tier of players rather than the big name guys. Still, I'm holding out hope that a young, rebuilding team, a new practice facility, and a few future superstars will be enough this year...

- Chris Drury - Come on, I've made no secret of the fact that I love Drury and would gladly steal him away from the Sabres (sorry, Heather B. - I have to be honest!). There's always the fear that he's overrated but carrying around that mantle of the "eternal winner" can't be easy, and so far I think he's held up his end of the deal pretty well. Let's just say I think he'd look pretty good in red, white and blue...

- Scott Hannan - I've liked the little I've seen of Hannan over the past year but more importantly I'm in awe of what Hannan did against Ovechkin the one time they met last season. He made him almost invisible - that puts Scott in the ranks of the select few who have consistently been able to shut Ovie down, like Andrei Markov and Zdeno Chara. And in my book that makes him someone I want on my team, not playing against them. Ron Wilson has also gushed about this guy for the last year and I trust Crazy Ronnie for some reason...weird, I know.


Steph said...

Take my Lang and give him a nice home, I'm going to miss him dammit! You know what, I'll even cheer for your Caps if you do. He actually led our team with scoring in the playoffs two seasons ago (oh my god it's too soon, I can't believe I'm saying "last season" about this year already)...not that we had much to show at all in those playoffs, compared to these. But he's officially not getting offered anything here so someone needs to take care of him for me :(

Heather B. said...

At this point I'd give you Drury just to get this whole thing over with. Good Lord! Buffalo is killing me right now with the doom and gloom and this guy vs. this guy.

I think Chris has completely earned his reputation and will always play hard every night but some of the prices I've heard for him are ridiculous. I don't think he's the kind of player you wrap up 7 million dollars plus in. I'm very torn about this.