Better Offseason – Wizards or Capitals?
July 6, 2012 in nhl
By DC Staff Writer John Manuel & Steve Shoup:
JOHN – POINT:
We are in the first week of NBA and NHL free agency and both the Wizards and Caps have been pretty quiet since their drafts. After making moves draft night, both have not made any major player acquisitions since. The Wizards are kind of held up by the salary cap, while the Caps seem to have stayed away from the few big names on the NHL free agent market.
There are still some free agents out there in both leagues but the only way to gain major talent would be via the trade route. Can either of these teams add players before the start of the season that will improve them?
STEVE – COUNTERPOINT:
Well I think the salary cap is a bit of an issue for both teams, but I think both teams should be looking to improve further before the season begins. Though there is little doubt that the Wizards moves will improve the team, that mainly is due to the fact that they finished with the 2nd worst record last year and it would be hard to go anywhere but up. I think Washington will look to buy low on a couple players, maybe a former first round pick who has disappointed, and they could use their trade exception from Rashard Lewis. Or attempt to package Blatche and a young guy for a similar poor contract (but a guy who you hope a change of scenery would help).
As for the Capitals, I really think they are in need of some defensive help. They finished 21st in goals against last year, and I don't know if they can expect that number to change too much. Also while he was a frustrating player, Alexander Semin has averaged 31 goals and 64 points over the last 6 years for the Caps, and that won't be easy to replace.
My difference between the two is effort. I am pretty sure the Capitals looked at guys like Parise and Suter and will take a look at Bobby Ryan still.
The problem I have with the Wizards is that they do not even get involved with guys like Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, and Steve Nash etc. (And I know we have a point guard). Did I expect any of them to come to DC? No, but at least make an effort. Two years ago when the free agency market was at its best and the Wizards were reeling and with cap room, they sat at home. Last season, no effort. This season, no effort. At least try to gauge interest.
Two seasons ago they could have attempted to void Gilbert's contract and didn't. Houston hasn't got Dwight Howard and may not but at least they tried. Would you rather have Dwight Howard for a season (with an outside chance at resigning) or Okafor and Ariza for two? And whoever says DC isn't attractive to stars should ask Chris Webber, he loved the DC area from all accounts.
Yeah but at the same time there was nothing that was going to bring Williams, Howard or any of the top guys to DC. Now that is not to say you couldn't have gotten some decent names, but you weren't getting top guys, because NBA players have too much power to skirt the cap, that they can basically always choose their destination.
While Okafor and Ariza don't look great this year, next year they could actually be valuable trade chips with expiring deals. Maybe that could land the Wizards a Joe Johnson type of player from a team looking to clear the books for 2014 (maybe packing them plus a pick to the Knicks for Amare). Still not in favor of the trade, but really all it did was push the Wizards back a season from being a player on the market (maybe two seasons if they don't utilize the expiring deals).
As for the Caps, I'm not as sure on their cap situation, but I think they really don't have a shot at any Parise/Suter type of guys given their cap. They could add a couple of 2nd tier guys and I think they should do that (as well as try and trade Mike Green), but I think they are looking to keep roughly the same roster for next year.
I just think I will never find anything good with the current Wizards situation. As for the Caps, I hope they keep Mike Green and do not trade him. He is still young and they need him. I have been harsh on him in the past, but like what I saw and would be interested to see what happens with Oates as coach. I think Mike Ribeiro was a good pickup and their draft ended up being like a Steelers or Ravens where top talent just happened to fall to them.
I saw one of the Caps bloggers mention a proposed trade for Bobby Ryan that included Johannson and Orlov and the rights to Kuvnetsov. I would be fine with moving Marcus and the Kuvnetsov rights, not as much Orlov but you have to move potential talent to get current talent. With Semin likely gone, I agree with you and I think they would need one more proven winger.
I think with the Wizards you need to take a glass half full approach, and that glass needs to be half full of vodka or some other hard liquor. Honestly I think the best thing the Capitals can do is work out a trade with Mike Green. Green is going to get overpaid, plain and simple. He comes with some big numbers in the past, particularly on the offensive end, and teams always overvalue an offensive minded defenseman. The problem is calling Green a defenseman is a bit of a stretch. He's had a pretty bad +/- rating for the majority of his career. Even the two years with good +/- ratings probably has more to do with the Caps high powered offense, than anything he did defensively (a flaw in the +/- stat is apparent when in 2009/2010, Jeff Schultz is the league leader).
Green has also played in just 81 games the last two seasons combined, meaning he's essentially missed an entire season. Given the fact that he's probably overrated and overpriced, I'd explore to see what you could get for him now. Keeping him will either mean you lose him next year for nothing, or you sign him to a big deal that you are almost sure to regret. If Bobby Ryan is available for a deal like that I think the Caps would be wise to make it.
My guess is Green only gets a 1 or 2 year deal, so he can hit unrestricted free agency soon. AKA the Fred Davis “you still need to prove your worth to get a long term deal, but without the free legal advice the Redskins get from Counselor Davis”.
If both teams stand pat at least the Caps have a better chance to make moves during the season up until the trade deadline. I think the Wizards are stuck with what they got until next off season. All in all you got a playoff team in the Caps and a most likely lottery team in the Wiz.
I'm guessing Green will actually get a better offer because I feel there is better hype around him, and the Caps have yet to show they care about defense (why is Schultz still on this team?!). The Caps probably do have more flexibility to make a move during the season, but I do think next summer the Wizards will have an advantage with those expiring deals and all the acquired young talent.
Technically the Wizards have 7 first rounders from the last three drafts (not that they've always drafted well), so they could have chips to use. In the end the best the Wizards can hope for is to finish out of the top 10 (and yet somehow land a top lottery pick), as it won't be easy landing a top 8 spot in the East.
The Caps should remain a playoff team, but it remains to be seen if they can perform at a high level during both the regular season and the playoffs.