Friday, July 1, 2011

Caps Make Moves

I can't say I expected moves today. I was surprised. I think McPhee made out pretty well.

Traded Varlamov to Avalanche for a 2012 1st round pick and 2012 or 2013 2nd round pick

What a steal, and I'm a "Team Varly" guy. The Avalanche might be in the lottery again next season (though I'd bet on just missing the playoffs). That means the Caps could have 3 picks in the top ~35. The Capitals will be able to get a cheap backup for under $1 million, about a third of what Varlamov signed for in Colorado ($2.75 per year, 2 years). Sure, they'll probably give up some extra goals against, but if you've been seeing this team in action I think you'll agree that the 18 skaters are the ones botching the job as of late. It's on them now. No goalie capable of posting elite numbers (when healthy) there to bail them out anymore.

Signed C Jeff Halpern to 1 year, $825k contract.

Three good tough minutes players. I don't think Halpern is as good as Gordon, but Halpern gets an edge offensively and is still competent in his own end. Hopefully--age seems to be catching up to him pretty quickly:

That's a lot of red. Without looking too long at competition, zone starts, and the like, I don't think Halpern had too good of a season, even if he did attract Selke attention towards the beginning of the season. He did take Montreal's hardest zone starts (about 43% for an above-average possession team), but didn't take particularly tough competition--Montreal plays Plekanec against top lines and Gomez against second lines.

Signed D Roman Hamrlik to a 2 year, $7 million contract.

Hamrlik has a ton of red, too, but he did actually play top lines with middling zone start (about 51%). I like this pickup. While it may be a slight overpay, it's only for two years.

I guess if you can't beat 'em, sign all their good players so they can't stop Ovechkin anymore.

Signed F Joel Ward to a 4 year, $12 million contract.

I love this deal. While $3 million per year to a ~30 point forward (who only cracked the NHL after his 27th birthday) seems like an awful overpay, Ward's value comes in exceptional defense. Basically every Predator was better off with Ward on the ice. Facing the highest caliber of opposition and take the 2nd toughest zone starts, like Ward did, and coming out with a positive Corsi Rel is truly amazing.Yes, he had help from players like Legward, Erat, Suter, and Weber, but make no mistake, Ward is the real deal. I don't even think Datsyuk and Zetterberg would be able to outscore Semin*-Laich-Ward-Carlson-Alzner.

I'd wanted Higgins before free agency started, but I can't be displeased if McPhee went out and instead grabbed the best defensive forward on the market. Ward should be a great asset to this team...provided Bruce Boudreau uses him properly. And therein lies the rub--I'm not confident Bruce Boudreau will match him aggressively enough to top lines to provide full value. That could be an issue.

*(I can dream, can't I?)

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