Remember the ‘Point-Counterpoint‘ spoof-skits of SNL’s heyday? We’re trying our own this summer, but more respectfully, with our undergraduate interns, Alex and Andrew. Actually, Alex is no longer an undergrad. (Congrats, graduate!) Anyway, to get a hot topic kicked off this offseason, we thought we’d raise the spectre of a big trade: Do the Caps entertain the idea this summer of dealing Alexander Semin or even Mike Green to shake things up a bit? Have at it, Young Guns.
Andrew: As far as Semin’s getting dealt, I don;t see it happening. I remember about a year ago someone mentioned that having Semin allows Ovi to relax and that he is crucial to Ovi’s success. The guy I talked to was pretty credible, too.
Alex: If I’m McPhee I’d trade him at the deadline. Get twenty-something goals from him then trade for a top defenseman for the playoffs. He’s shown he can’t do anything that time of year! Yet!
Andrew: But at the same time Green has shown he doesn’t show up when it counts, either. When the team has really needed him, last year versus the Penguins and this year versus Montreal, he disappeared. And I’m one who puts a good deal of stock in Stevie Yzerman’s assessment of Greener. He just didn’t want him on the Canadian Olympic team.
If the Caps didn’t have Ovi, Semin would be the team’s no. 1 player, with the exception of maybe Backstrom. At the same time, what would Semin look like if his line was centered by Backstrom? He currently has no one to set him up on the second line.
Alex: I couldn’t agree more with you. But I also feel like Semin’s contract was set up so he would be traded at the deadline because of his UFA status next year.
Andrew: I feel like Semin’s contract was set up to pressure him to perform. It might be like a T.O. sort of deal for hockey, where the only way he stays focused is if he has to perform to earn another contract. Green’s contract is half over, with only two years on it left, which in my mind, is pretty tradable. I doubt Semin would want to go anywhere once his contract is up; he seems to enjoy DC and certainly loves being with his countryman and best friend.
The real question in my mind isn’t tradability, but rather which guy would give the Caps the best deal?
Alex: Either contract is tradeable, but let’s face it, Mike Green has those two years left on his deal, and isn’t playing for anything but Cup glory. In Bruce Boudreau’s autobiography, Gabby, the coach states his firm belief in Green’s ability — associating with a Paul Coffey-esque type blueliner. Semin meanwhile told the media shortly before the playoffs that Boudreau turned this team into a winner. That tells me that this team is close-knit and it’d be hard to dispose of either player, as their both members of the Young Guns quartet. But close-knit does not mean anything when hockey stops being a sport and becomes a business. I think there are lots of takers out there for Semin and comparatively fewer for Green. What do you think?
Andrew: To me, it always seems like a team is looking for a top defenseman. If Green was the odd man out, there’d be an easy way to market him, and that is by comparing the impact he could have on a team to that of Chris Pronger. Sure, Pronger hasn’t been stellar this year in the playoffs, but he does have four goals and 10 assists in 16 games. Essentially he has been a point per playoff game guy.
To me, the one thing many in the NHL media have neglected to look at is who can the Caps most easily replace. Can they more easily replace Green or Semin? They have great d-men in the system, but not many players like Semin. Who do you think Washington can replace more easily?
Alex: Everyone says this a great situation to be in, to have depth of talent pouring out all sides of an organization. Sure I’ll agree with those people, but it’s these sticky situations that make life difficult for GMGM.
You’re right in assuming Green would be easier to let go of, especially with the likes of Carlson and Alzner stepping into the fold. Losing unrestricted free agents also helps with cap concerns. I’m not sure Green’s points will be missed too much if those two stepped up big time next season and at least combined for 60-70 points.
Semin is probably the more difficult to replace because of his immeasurable skill. I don’t think there is another player who is as rawly gifted physically, technically. He is the Cristiano Ronaldo of hockey, except Cristiano Ronaldo carries Real Madrid. If you don’t know who he is, you will in three or four weeks. Anyway, I feel like the Caps could do without Semin’s 40 goals and still be the top scoring team in the league. Problem is Semin needs that top quality center to play with and until Marcus Johansson is ready, Semin won’t be that consistent potential 60-goal scorer Boudreau believes he can be.
I think swapping Semin at the deadline for a stud defenseman gives the Caps that powerful scoring offense for 60 games and awesome defense for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs, where defense is more crucial. Green is a hybrid defenseman, so what kind of player would he be a good trade for?
Andrew: The idea of trading Semin for a d-man brings up the question about where this new blueliner would play. If Carlson and Alzner are with the team next year, as Gabby has inferred, one of Joe Corvo and Shaone Morrisonn is resigned, as many believe is likely to happen, and Schultz is retained, that leaves them with these pairings: Green-Schultz, Poti-Corvo/ShoaMo, Alzner-Carlson. It begs the question where will this new player fit? Gabby loves Schultz, and Green has to be there, so will the team part with Poti or Corvo or ShoaMo. . . and what if they bring Juice back? Personally, I think they are set at defense. Not to mention they are rumored to be interested in signing Anton Volchenkov.
The major question is can the Caps contend with the team they currently have? And if not, could they still contend if they got a good deal in return for Semin or Green?
Alex: I can only speak for players under contract next season, so I would shy away from saying Corvo will be in the defense corps. About your concern for numbers, there were seven or eight defensemen this season and seeing as how deep at forward the team is, eight d-men isn’t a bad thing — it keeps ’em fresh.
In goal I don’t think Varly is capable of playing 65-70 games yet, but I do think Neuvy and Varly can handle the load. GMGM is not going to waste more cap space on a chance that Martin Biron or Marty Turco will fit the bill if back-up mentor. No chance. I’d be stunned if he made a move for a goalie, especially when goalies aren’t worth as much in this league as a heavy defenseman or pure goal scorer.
I believed, like everyone, that the Caps were going to compete for the Stanley Cup this year. Without Semin next year, I think they are a better team if they can get that stud blueliner. In the same vein, I think Semin’s consistency next year would be much aided by a bonafide second-line center, which could be had through a Green trade, and then some. Tell me if I am wrong.
Andrew: You weren’t the only one who thought this was going to be the Caps’ season. Despite having my concerns about them being tired and the curse of the Presidents’ Trophy, I really thought nothing would stop Washington easily.
In the end, it is really personal preference on who you would rather see traded. Clearly both trades have their positives. We won’t know who is traded until it happens, if they are traded at all, but you and I both seem to agree that no matter what, some change has to be made.