The Best of the Rest

LeftoversNow that the last echoes of the free agency starting gun have faded, NHL signings have settled down to a more sedate pace. Most hockey transactions of late involved AHLers or depth players.
Yet a significant stable of hockey talent remains available. And as we all know, leftovers can still be pretty darned tasty.

“[Mike] Johnson is among a group of unrestricted free-agent forwards that also still includes Michael Peca, Eric Lindros, Alexei Yashin, Jason Allison, Anson Carter, Tony Amonte, Jeff Friesen, Josef Vasicek, Denis Arkhipov, Peter Bondra, Patrik Stefan, Petr Nedved, Martin Gelinas, Arron Asham, Chris Simon, Nils Ekman, Ronald Petrovicky, Ville Nieminen, Travis Green, Jeff O’Neill, Jan Bulis, Adam Hall and Dimitri Afanasenkov, among others.
‘Danny Markov, meanwhile, is arguably the top defenceman left on the unrestricted market. Others available include Andy Sutton, Brent Sopel, David Tanabe, Patrice Brisebois, Bryan Berard, Janne Niinimaa and Nolan Pratt.
“Markov, who turns 31 at the end of the month, was plus-25 in 66 regular-season games with Detroit last season, while also putting up 16 points (4-12). His camp is in talks with three or four teams.” [1]

I hope the Capitals are among those pursuing Markov. He’s that hard-nosed stay-at-home defender everyone hates to play against — and he’d fill the fourth and final hole in the Caps’ roster, nicely rounding out a superb summer of acquisitions.
Many talented Capitals youngsters are close to filling that role . . . but none are ready to go like Markov is right now. Of course we have no idea at this point what Markov wants in contract dollars/duration, so he may not be a realistic option; but from a talent perspective he seems an excellent fit.
Who else would look good in red, white, and blue next season? If the price is right, Sopel or Tanabe could be relatively safe depth signings. Though really, only Markov has me excited from that list of blueliners.
While the Caps’ crop of forwards is bounteous — some might say verging on overcrowded — RW Anson Carter could be a solid addition to the team for a reasonable 1- or 2-year deal. Peter Forsberg is missing from the above list, though he may retire; even if not, his price would likely be far too steep to justify after signing Michael Nylander.
If the Capitals choose to stand pat, the Nylander-Kozlov-Poti trifecta has this writer/fan quite satisfied. Acquiring a bruising defenseman would be icing on the cake — whether with one more UFA signing or, perhaps even better, via trade.
OFB readers: Who, if anyone, among the UFAs do you think would be a good fit for the Caps? Or should they eschew the remaining free agents and stand pat (or go the trade route)?

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19 Responses to The Best of the Rest

  1. Mike says:

    Didn’t Kariya sign with the Blues.
    [OC note: Yes he did, good catch. I’ve made the correction]

  2. pgreene says:

    go the trade route. if we bring in another body on the blue line, we’ll have to dump one or both of green/schultz in hershey, which means a fairly crowded blue line if you allow for lepisto, pokoluk, dovgan and the vets. i suppose getting a ufa would also mean either erskine or eminger sits regularly, which seems a particularly bad idea for the latter.

  3. usiel says:

    Open for trades=yes. I’d only sign a Markov for a one year deal.

  4. redcap says:

    Well based on what I have read the Caps are done with the UFA’s. Yes we still need another D-man (preferably a rough/tough stay at home type) so my guess would be that they go the trade route. Personally I don’t care how they do it I just would like one more D-Man.

  5. eric says:

    Tarik wants Nolan Pratt. I could live with that.

  6. Thunderweenie says:

    Whatever you Caps folks do, tell your club to steer clear of Forsberg (unless, that is, he signs a one-year deal or something like that where the club’s exposure is limited). He’s made of glass. With his health history, I wouldn’t touch him.
    As for Markov…that would be a good addition. He’ll be signed by someone soon enough, so if the Caps have the “cap” space, I say go for it.

  7. OrderedChaos says:

    Pratt wouldn’t be a bad pickup. He’s in the Brendan Witt mold IMO (with all the good and bad that implies).

  8. Muddapucker says:

    Markov would be my first choice, but I think Brent Sopel would be a solid pickup too…

  9. Donald says:

    PETER BONDRA!!! *waits for the lynch mob at his door*

  10. Donald says:

    I kid i kid!!

  11. TG says:

    At this time, is there even a need to sign someone else or trade for something else? Let’s be honest, this team isn’t going to win the Cup. It’s better and should make the playoffs, but in the long run, wouldn’t they be better served by continuing to give the young’uns experience? Signing someone like Markov would make them somewhat better now, but then you’re rotating Green, Schultz, Emminger, whoever between Hershey, the press box, and playing 10-12 minutes a night. Is that really in the team’s best interest (long term)? Or should they give them a fair amount of playing time to see what they can do and then NEXT YEAR make the really big move? Now, if Pronger, Niedermeyer, Lidstrom, etc. were available, I’d say go for it, because that would make a significant difference to the team. But honestly, is Markov really the answer? (And if so, what in the world is the question?) Or should they wait and see what shakes out around the league. Who needs to move someone to create cap space? Who has injuries and will overpay for someone?
    Patience. Baby steps.
    But if you held a gun to my head, I’d pick Tanabe, if only because I thought that the Caps looked really slow at times last season, and boy that guy can move, which makes up for a lot of deficiencies elsewhere.

  12. OrderedChaos says:

    Excellent feedback all. I agree with the general consensus: a trade would likely be the better move given the likely ROI on the remaining UFAs.
    As I said, standing pat with the current roster isn’t a bad move. I believe the Caps are making serious inquiries about players that can help them right now (like Markov, perhaps), if only because it never hurts to ask. And of course, the closer the season gets the more likely UFAs will be interested in bargaining down.
    Of the four “needs” identified by the team (and its fans): center, RW, and puck-moving defenseman have been filled. Only a hulking shut-down D-man remains on the want-list . . . and letting youngsters compete for that role may indeed be in the Caps’ best interest.
    P.S. Heh, good one Donald!¬†They can¬†just bump Ovie to the second line and Alex II to the checking line to make room for Peter’s return. 😉

  13. Capsaholic says:

    While we’re going back in time a little this year, Carter would be an excellent addition to the team.

  14. scott ryan says:

    31 is too old for a player and is retirement age. I would say Carter should bring fire to the team

  15. Donald says:

    hey he plays the right side! i’d take him on the 2nd line with Semin and Backstrom. provided he still had the wheels he’d be a good veteran presense on the line with the kids….in all seriousness. but really i think we should stand pat unless someone wows us with a trade.

  16. Henesy says:

    I think the free agent additions and Backstrom signing will makes our offense on the first 2 lines very formidable. We’ve sat through a couple of years of “wait for the young guys to break through” and there is a couple of sizable, defense first youngsters that need to step up. Constantly picking from free agents got us in the mess before, but being too cheep has been ugly, too. Let’s hope this is the right mix to push it forward.

  17. pepper says:

    Markov would be worthy of FA signing but otherwise we’ve got a lot of talent in the pipeline and signed already, especially with Eminger now inked. (Who knows, maybe he’s a late bloomer – late being relative since he’s still very young career wise.)
    I agree generally then with #2 and #4 (and OC). I’m happy with what we got and happy to go with it, unless we can go the trade route and package prospects and 2008 picks in-season for some help.
    #15 – 31 for a retirement age is a bit short-sighted eh? Hits home too since I’m around that age with a birthday upcoming, and left a hockey practice last week early with a groin pull 🙂
    With the overall cap limit and team budget, we need a few more top prospects coming into their own on the active roster and earning low salaries to truly be a Cup contender. Signing more FAs now is going to just prevent those prospects from moving into the Caps lineup, possibly upset team chemistry, and add to Ted’s expense and annoyance.
    This team might be the next 97-98 Caps to vault their unscripted way into the Cup finals. Young talent and some choice polished veterans can do that, and we’re getting that together now. There’s a good foundation set. And we’ve got a great captain in Clark.

  18. Grooven says:

    While I think we have a pretty decent team, there’s always room for improvement. Should they make a move now? *shrug*
    For the right price anyone is tradeable.
    If Forsberg said “I’m old and I’m hurt but I still want to play. Sign me for $500k and make most of my contract incentives”, you’d most likely consider it. (I’m not saying this is possible. It’s an example.)
    If Anaheim turns around and says “Give us two draft picks and Clymer for Schneider” — you’d ponder it, yes?
    Just like haggling in an open market, you can always ask and you can always offer. The good news is now the Caps have put themselves in a position where they can always walk away from a discussion instead of feeling compelled to push the issue.
    So should they be looking? Absolutely. Should they act? Depends on the offers.

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