Washington Capitals: Grading the Team's Offseason Moves
There is nothing more arbitrary than assigning letter grades to the various offseason moves of an NHL franchise. And yet, here I am, ready to feed the insatiable need for August hockey speculation and rankings.
It's my way, as a fan, of imagining myself wearing long black robes, judging the merits of the front office's case and eventually sentencing Dan Snyder to a life of exile (everything's his fault, somehow). I like to imagine George McPhee running into Ted Leonsis' office with tears streaming down his face while clutching the "D-MINUS" rating that I assigned to a fourth-line player that he picked up off of the waivers in July. I can dream, can't I?
The Caps certainly have made plenty of movements to grade, although the season opener is still at least 14 months away, thanks to Gary Bettman's negotiating tactics (You don't like a 24 percent pay cut? MAKE IT 30 PERCENT! AND EVERYONE HAS TO WORK ON CHRISTMAS!). So let's take a look at some of the biggest ones and pass sweeping judgements on them. I preemptively grade this slideshow an A+!
Hiring Adam Oates
Despite the fact that the Capitals organization now appears obsessed with putting former players on the bench after their run with Bruce Boudreau, this is an encouraging move.
Unlike ol' grind-your-opponents-to-death Dale Hunter, Oates' career as an assistant coach has led him to focus on offense, helping to boost the Tampa Bay Lightning's power play a full 11 spots in 2008-09 and then getting the dead-last-in-scoring New Jersey Devils to 15th in the league in 2011-12 and eventually to an Eastern Conference championship.
THAT is the kind of leadership that the Capitals desperately need.
Signing Mike Ribeiro
Mike Ribeiro finally fills what has been a persistent, painful problem for the Caps, and that is being a viable center for the second line behind Nick Backstrom. Over the past eight years with Montreal and Dallas, Ribeiro has tallied an average of 20 goals and 45 assists, exactly the kind of stats that you hope to get out of a center.
Now just watch the Caps make him go out there and block shots all game long.
Re-Signing Mike Green
Mike Green has been a fantastic player—when he plays, that is. Green is the crème de la crème when it comes to offensive-minded defensemen, but he's missed 116 games in six NHL seasons. That's a full season-and-a-half.
Green recently underwent surgery to deal with his latest problem, which I think was leprosy or something. That didn't deter the Caps from inking him to a three-year deal worth $18.25 million. Will it pay off? It better, or George McPhee is totally giving him the silent treatment—and he DEFINITELY won't sign his cast.
Showing Semin and Knuble the Door
I hate both of these moves. HATE THEM. First perennial 20-goal-scorer Mike Knuble is relegated to fourth-line work under Dale Hunter and then management runs out of town a guy who averages better than 30 goals per year in Alexander Semin, who is now in Carolina. THAT'S going to be fun to play against in our own division.
Now, the team is suddenly short at winger. This is all part of Ted Leonsis' grand strategy of "bring in a guy who will mismanage your best players and then ship them out when they underperform."
People rip on Semin for "not caring." Oh sure, he put 187 pucks in the back of the net over the last six years, but he didn't care about any of them.
NOT Trading Alex Ovechkin
You're a genius, George McPhee. A GENIUS.