Two weeks ago, George McPhee told Caps fans that the team was happy with it's roster - and confident enough in it that very few, if any deals would be made.
One week ago, he addressed the goaltending, making sure we understood he was pleased with the team at that position.
George McPhee needs to go play at the World Poker Tournament. Today, he pulled the wool out of everyone's eyes.
Earlier this season he sent Brian Sutherby to Anaheim for their second round draft pick in 2009. He then passed on Ilya Bryzgalov. Caps fans nearly revolted. The goaltending had not been solid, and Bryzgalov was on waivers...and George McPhee lets him go?
Well, Bryzgalov has been solid, but he's not a proven number one. So far, he's a one season wonder. Well, there's no question the Canadiens did not call McPhee in regards to his second-round draft pick. But when the deal came down, Huet found himself on the way out of Montreal and into D.C.
Huet is a solid number-one goaltender. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in just knowing how to play a great positional game. Even if he does not start, Olaf Kolzig will be pressured. Having two good goalies is far better than having one.
Huet is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, and will be 33 on July 1st, when free agency begins. It's not unlikely that if he performs well, the Capitals would try to sign him to a three to five year deal. Any concerns about Olaf Kolzig(also a UFA) bridging the gap till Semen Varlamov or Michal Neuwirth make it to the NHL are negated.
This trade surprised many a hockey fan. But who knew it would only be the second most shocking deal that the Caps would make today?
With Michael Nylander out for the year, the Capitals have struggled to fill the void in the second line center position. A rental was possible, but unlikely. Kozlov was ushered in to try and cement a second line. After a few months of this, the Capitals have had enough. Teddy Ruth, a freshman at Notre Dame, but Caps property from the most recent draft, was sent to Columbus for Sergei Fedorov.
Fedorov brings immediate name recognition, and he is still one of the best defensive forwards in the game today. He has only nine goals, and 28 total points, but he will step into the second line center role and make it a line that can put some numbers on the board. He will be used in special team situations as well. Teddy Ruth will not do any of these things - at least, not for a long while. Teddy Ruth will likely never be a household name. Every family with at least one hockey fan in it knows the name of Sergei Fedorov.
Finally, Matt Pettinger had struggled all year. He was sent to Vancouver for Matt Cooke, Agitator. Caps fans love grit. To an extent, Caps fans love a little bit of a dirty side to their players. Scott Stevens and Dale Hunter are two glorified examples. Cooke is like Dale Hunter on the wing - without the offensive prowess. Cooke does not like to fight, but he does plenty of little things to just poke and the opponent, and when he finds a sore in the side, he dives right in.
If Caps fans don't know him now, they'll love him in a few weeks.
Will these moves get the Capitals in the playoffs? Who knows. However, not one of these trades gave up a solid player, and none of them gave up any valuable assets. The team next year will likely be the same, and if any of these guys resign in Washington, it's a solid win for the franchise.
It's been five years since the Capitals have made the playoffs. Ted Leonsis and George McPhee don't want to wait another year.
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