NHL Trades: 5 Reasons the Washington Capitals Need to Pick Up a Goaltender

Robert Wood@@bleachRWreachrCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2013

NHL Trades: 5 Reasons the Washington Capitals Need to Pick Up a Goaltender

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    The Washington Capitals have two bright young stars at the goaltender position.

    But so far this season, both Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth have less-than-stellar statistics.

    Neuvirth has a 3.05 GAA with a .889 save percentage in seven games. And Holtby has been worse, so far compiling a 3.89 GAA with a .877 save percentage in eight games.

    That is not going to cut it, especially in a shortened season.

    Here are five reasons why the Washington Capitals should trade for a goaltender.

5. GMGM Is Not Impressed

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    Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee has not been pleased with his goalies.

    McPhee explained his feelings to Ben Raby of NHL Insider on February 8:

    They've got to be better. We think we've done a real good job of developing them. They've had their time in [the American Hockey League]. There is upside there with these goaltenders. But they can both play better and they know it. And it's time for them to play. Neuvirth is a good solid goaltender. Holtby played really well in the playoffs. It's time for these two guys to play. Give them lots of games and see how they do. And right now it's not going the way they had hoped. 

    If McPhee's two young goalies continue to disappoint him, then it may be time to trade for another goaltender entirely.

4. Platoon Under Fire

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    Before this season, Adam Oates envisioned a platoon system for his two goalies, telling Katie Carrera of The Washington Post, "I think both guys are going to play a lot, and I would say when a guy is playing well, he should play.”

    Well, this platoon has taken a lot of enemy fire.

    Through 13 games, Washington's goaltending pair of Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby rank 51st and 62nd, respectively, among active NHL goalies in goals against average (GAA).

    There are only 67 goalies on that list.

3. Veteran Leadership

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    Braden Holtby (28) and Michal Neuvirth (115) have played a combined 143 NHL regular-season games.

    A franchise goaltender could rack up that many games in almost two seasons, not a combined eight seasons, as these two have done.

    But experience is more than just a number. Experience is knowledge of how to deal with different situations—because the goalie in question has actually played through them.

    Evgeni Nabokov has just this type of experience. The native of Russia has played in a total of 615 games over 12 NHL seasons, compiling a career record of 316-201-70. Nabokov has a save percentage of .912 with a 2.41 GAA in his regular-season career. In the playoffs, Nabokov's save percentage and GAA improve to .913 and 2.299, respectively, in 80 career games.

    And although he is 37 years old, Nabokov is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, during which his contract pays him $2,750,000. He would be a worthwhile rental for a mad dash to the postseason.

    The type of experience that Evgeni Nabokov can provide is what the Washington Capitals need right now out of the goalie position to help navigate this shortened season.

2. Outside Looking in

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    The Caps are currently tied with four other teams for last place in the Eastern Conference standings.

    If the Stanley Cup playoffs started today, the Washington Capitals would not be participating. Washington would therefore miss the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

    It is no coincidence that this same Capitals team is ranked 28th in the NHL with a goals against per game (GA/G) of 3.50.

    If the Capitals want to preserve their postseason appearance streak, they need to improve their average of goals against per game. To do so, they need to trade for a goaltender.

1. Running out of Time

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    The 2013 NHL season was shortened due to a work stoppage.

    As a result, the Washington Capitals will play only 48 games.

    But they've already played 14 of them.

    The Capitals have 34 games remaining to recover for lost ground.

    This team is running out of time to make a run at the playoffs. A new goaltender will help them get it done.