Morning Cup-a-Joe (1/30/07)

cupajoe.jpegTwo notable Richards return to the Washington performing arts scene late in January 2007 — the first a sinister serial killer of a usurper from the House of York, under the direction of the Shakespeare Theater’s Michael Kahn, the second a Slovakian sniper freshly rehabbed, tasked with bolstering the Caps’ attack, under the guidance of Glen Hanlon. Don’t be surprised if both of their tenures this winter are comparably dramatic.
Conventional wisdom has it that the Caps will showcase Richard Zednik the next three weeks and deal the pending UFA for a pick before the February 27 trade deadline. Perhaps. But I think it just as likely that the Caps will re-up with the 31-year-old right winger and have him penciled in for a return engagement next season. Yes Eric Fehr is almost certainly finishing his understudy in Hershey early in 2007, but how often are rookies tasked with top-6 forward duties for the entirety of an NHL’s 82-game season? The Caps will surely enter next season with widespread playoff forecasts, and with one rookie already inserted into the team’s top-6 rotation (Nicklas Backstrom). But two such? My wager is that Fehr will break into next season’s lineup with third or fourth-line minutes and second-unit power play shifts, with only consistent, two-way achievement earning him a promotion.
Moreover, this season has tortured Caps’ management with the imperative need to acquire quality depth throughout the lineup. Zednik, in the physical prime of his career, offers just that. He went down after 20 games, right as he was displaying offensive zone disruption and dynamism. He’ll need to recapture that form to earn the confidence of Caps’ management, and a new deal, but for a team that stands to get even younger next season, a veteran in his prime like Zed is an attractive in-house option. Could there be other attractive free agent right wings on the market this summer? Sure. Would they arrive with the known-commodity quality of Zed? Not so much. By all accounts Richard’s return engagement in D.C. this season — as limited as it’s been — has been well received by management and player and teammates alike.
Consider, too, that should he return to his pre-injury form Zednik’s greatest value arrives after the trade deadline. With Chris Clark pushing for a 30-goal-plus campaign, a pair of Russians likely burning out goal lamp bulbs for 50 each on the left side, it’s plausible that a balanced attack of the top-6 wings could mitigate a bit the Caps’ battered blueline, and usher in an above-.500 run in February and March and make April as dramatic in hockey D.C. as we’ve seen this decade. A longshot scenario admittedly, but plausible. And if two veteran right wings are part of that underdog heroism, we’d have quite a Verizon Center curtain call this spring. And a return engagement next fall.

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4 Responses to Morning Cup-a-Joe (1/30/07)

  1. does Zednik have a hunchback?
    Will he give his kingdom for a goal?

  2. Very good point. I believe it would serve us no good to trade him for a draft pick. We have more than enough prospects to develop and could use Zednik’s veteran presence for the long term.

  3. pepper says:

    I would favor a return of Zed for next year. This year may be out of reach as far as playoffs (I write this in typical “knee jerk” reaction to the result of a very entertaining game in Ottawa that was fought awfully hard for the latter half of the game but that may have put us out of contention), but there are plenty of prospects that are planned to develop within the system already.
    And Zed is a nice link to our best playoff memories.
    He can’t get us that top 4 d-man with experience, so why deal him now? Is there some super defense prospect in the 2nd round in this year’s draft that we simply must have and that a pick in that round would help acquire? Doubtful.

  4. OrderedChaos says:

    Good points CF & Pepper — unless someone offers a great return, why not keep Zed another year to see if he can stay healthy and produce next season? We’re not overloaded at RW, and unless Zed brings a good return in a package trade then why lose him for nothing?

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