Out with More Soft, in with More Grit

In mane and meanness, defenseman Scott Hannan — acquired by the Caps today from Colorado for Tomas Fleischmann — bears decent resemblance to former Caps’ rearguard Brendan Witt. No few observers in hockey the past couple of years have believed that the Caps have lacked a Witt-type presence on the back end. Today’s deal addresses that. It was a swap of pending unrestricted free agents whose pricey contracts seemed less justifiable deep this autumn than they did in the offseason.

Some important initial notes: Hannan had a no-trade contract with Colorado but waived it to come to D.C. And no less than Alexander Ovechkin called Hannan the “toughest defenseman to play against.” Slowly but surely George McPhee is refashioning his high-scoring, highly finesse roster into one that looks springtime battle-ready. And he may not be done yet.

This: a much-needed commodity on the Caps' blueline

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This entry was posted in Colorado Avalanche, George McPhee, National Hockey League, NHL Trades, playoff hockey, Scott Hannan, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Out with More Soft, in with More Grit

  1. sonja says:

    Yes … I’m all for a tougher blue line. But Flash? Say it ain’t so.

  2. Hittman says:

    Love the picture! Not sure who is #15 on Vancouver, is it Glass?, but he doesn’t look pleased. Hopefully that grit is on display against the Pens, Flyers, Canadiens, and Boston this year. And Atlanta (yikes the East is looking tough this season…)

  3. Hittman says:

    Oh and note to self: this opens up a forward spot…Perreault, King (rumored trade bait already). Still a logjam though with Gordon and Hendricks taking turns as well.

  4. Sonja, Flash very well could thrive out West, and in a lineup where he’s more a front-line performer than he ever could be here. But I personally believe that that shockingly horrendous series vs. the Habs, coupled with an average camp and a poor start this fall, made him highly expendable. Some context (perhaps): it’s clear the Caps are high on MJ90; they also are excited about Cody Eakin’s potential; Matty is on fire with the Bears. Flash is in this scenario a quality numbers victim. And Kuznetsev could end up playing down the middle as well.

    Re. Hannan, I imagine if you asked the GMs in Philly and Pitt they’d agree that the Caps today look tougher to play against.

  5. Geo says:

    I’m glad they didn’t wait for the trade deadline, it’s just late in the season to build chemistry for the playoffs. And at least now we can all whine about something else at the trade deadline other than “get a tough veteran defenseman!” :)

  6. Geo says:

    I forget, we can still clamor for a 2nd line center, though I like how M. Jo is coming along of late.

    And I meant I’m glad they didn’t wait for the trade deadline to sign someone like Hannan. Now they have plenty of games to figure out who he best partners with, when to best use him etc.

  7. xke4me says:

    I’m beginning to sense that the Caps front office have the mentality of defensemen. That is, they have the nerve and patience to wait for the play(er) to come to them rather than rushing it. I was one of those clammoring for a big D man last summer; but this looks very promising. I’m sad to see Flash go, but agree that he may thrive somewhere else.

  8. Pingback: Media pundits and others on the Caps-Avs trade « DC Pro Sports Report

  9. The timing aspect of this deal — of not waiting until the bidding frenzy of January and February commences — is I think one which well served the Caps. The late-season arrival of all four of those outsider bodies last season may have proven disruptive to team chemistry. That’s been speculated about with some fairness, I think. Other than with perhaps Willie Mitchell McPhee didn’t seem keen on the big UFAs blueliners available in summer. But press accounts today note that with respect to Hannan he’s been in pursuit since August. Interesting, that.

  10. mostholy2 says:

    Given the amount of time we’ve had to play Sloan as a backup for the number of injuries on our blueline this year, adding a solid veteran defenseman with playoff experience is what I’ve been hoping for to get more depth in defense.

    Not to bag on the guy, but I would hate to go into the playoffs with only Sloan and/or a Bear’s call-up as backup in case of injury. I guess the main question now is, what happens when everyone is healthy?

  11. Patrick says:

    This deal just makes complete sense to me. Unfortunately you have to give something to get something, that’s business. I REALLY like our defense corps now! We lost a great forward, which we have plenty, to gain a great physical defenseman, which we needed immensely. Excellent work GMGM.

  12. CapsFan1975 says:

    Agree with the trade. While I like Flash, he was a scoring winger, of which we have many. I figure we definitely needed a defenseman since, frankly, we were shaky in the depth department, especially when we had multiple injuries. I figure he can pair up with Poti most nights (although I’m sure he’ll be tried out with other guys as well).

  13. Potitang says:

    The Caps got a top 6 pairing defensive starter in exchange for at best a one dimensional player whose one dimension the Caps simply don’t need. Fleischmann’s redeeming quality at least to me the last couple years was above average speed. This year he hasn’t looked faster than anyone really and hasn’t improved in any other aspect of his game. This is a fantastic deal for the Caps in my estimation. It also reinforces the fact that the team has really bought into the improvement that we have all seen in young Marcus.

  14. Geo says:

    Judging from YouTube (Scott Hannan Post-Game Interview from 2007 playoffs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4jRCPSlH7Y), Hannan’s favorite phrase is “you know,” which he says about 27 times during that interview. So get used to it. :-)

    A nice hit on Phoenix’s Matthew Lombardi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DLjRp1wWEw&playnext=1&list=PL41436570C3B4BB7A&index=10

    Neat footage of him with San Jose helping kill off a 5-on-3 penalty against Edmonton, eventually clearing the pack sans stick: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ucd9xoRtDuQ

    Though it’s more of a scrum than a fight, there’s one of him grappling with Jamie McGinn in the playoffs earlier this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DLjRp1wWEw&playnext=1&list=PL41436570C3B4BB7A&index=10

  15. garbage_goal says:

    Unless Hannan has changed his game significantly from when he played in San Jose, Hannan is not a “physical” defenseman. He doesn’t hit people often or hard, he doesn’t agitate, he doesn’t fight.

    He is a good defensive defenseman. Not flashy, but effective. He does not get pushed around either. I think McPhee made a great trade. Hannan is not worth the contract he got but if he’s going UFA and Washington has the cap space, it’s not a problem.

    Really nice move.

  16. sonja says:

    I’m late returning to this … I do hope that Flash will do well out west and will shine in his new team. He’s got a great heart for hockey and I’ll miss his spirit on the team. I do recognize that his short-comings as a player made him expendable, but I also think that there are intangibles that some players bring to a team that are sorely missed when they get traded away. In Flash’s case, losing his trademark smile throughout all sorts of adversity keeping the team on an even keel is going to take some time to recover from. Bringing Matty Pereault up from Hershey on a more permanent basis, would be a good move for replacing that heart. He has much of the same spirit, and working attitude as Flash has.

    I guess we’ll see what these changes have created beginning tonight …

  17. sonja says:

    P.S. Plus, I’m wondering what to do with my fan sweater now … I’m one of the very few fans who sport a Fleishmann 14 on the rare occasion when I’m able to get to a Caps game.

    Who knows … maybe it will become a collectors item ;)

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