2014 NHL Trade Deadline: Last-Minute Deals Washington Capitals Should Pursue
With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching, it looks like it may be time for George McPhee to once again swing for the fences.
Over the past seven years, McPhee's brought in former All-Stars such as Sergei Fedorov, Jason Arnott, Cristobel Huet and Viktor Kozlov, and he has consistently made moves that have helped Washington make the postseason.
Of course, not all of McPhee's swaps have gone according to plan, as few would call his decision to flip Filip Forsberg for Michael Latta and Martin Erat a good one in hindsight. However, in fairness to the longtime Capitals GM, no one could've predicted Erat's rapid decline in production.
As of now, it looks like the first domino may have fallen for the Caps, as ESPN's reporting that McPhee's landed Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner in return for a fourth-rounder, which is a fantastic pickup for this team.
Looking ahead to the March 5 deadline, here's a look at some of the other targets the Caps should be considering in order to move into the postseason picture.
Braden Holtby's 2013-14 campaign has been rather unspectacular, and though he's played reasonably well since the Olympics, the 24-year-old demonstrated his tendency to give up goals in bunches against Philadelphia on Sunday.
As a result, adding a veteran goaltender has to be something McPhee's toying with, and now that Ryan Miller's off the market, Martin Brodeur is arguably the most intriguing name left on the table among available stoppers.
No, Brodeur isn't even close to the force in net that he was even three seasons ago, but even at age 41, one has to believe that the three-time Stanley Cup champion would give the Caps a better chance to win on a nightly basis than either Holtby or Michal Neuvirth.
While Brodeur would have to agree to any proposed trade after NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes (via NHL.com) reported the goaltender waived his no-trade clause, it's no secret that the longtime Devil yearns for a bigger role in what may be his final season. If he's willing to join the Caps, the NHL's all-time leader in wins and shutouts could probably be had for a mid-level pick and a prospect.
With Penner now in the fold, the Capitals will almost certainly have to clear some space under the salary cap to accommodate the addition of the two-time Stanley Cup champion.
In addition, with CSNWashington.com's Chuck Gormley claiming Evgeny Kuznetsov could be an option for D.C., Martin Erat (and his $4.5 million cap hit) may not be around much longer.
Obviously, given that Erat has a measly one goal on the year, McPhee will probably have to eat some of the Czech Republic Olympian's remaining term.
Even when Jack Hillen returns to the lineup, Washington's blue line is absurdly thin, and now that Dmitry Orlov's gone for two games, reinforcements are needed on the back end more than ever.
Andrew MacDonald would've been nice, but given that the Flyers announced he's headed to Philadelphia according to NHL.com, McPhee's focus should shift to landing another one of the well-rounded rearguards on the block.
Of course, Alex Edler would be preferable, but realistically, Edmonton's Nick Schultz is a much more attainable target.
Schultz won't blow the doors off offensively, but his mobility, size and steady presence on the back end would be a valuable addition to Washington's defensive core.
And best of all, given that the Oilers have long since been eliminated from the postseason chase, the 31-year-old could be had for a reasonable price.
Like Schultz, veteran forward Ryan Smyth could be on his way out, and though his numbers are a far cry from what they were during his prime, he still brings enough to the table to merit a look from teams in need of a veteran presence.
Sure, the addition of Penner may lessen the need for a player like Smyth, but for a team like Washington, which is hoping to advance past the second round of the postseason for the first time since 1998, adding a veteran forward couldn't hurt.
He led the Oilers to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2005-06, won a gold medal with Canada in 2002 and is among the game's most respected players.
If McPhee can get him for a late pick or a middling prospect, McPhee should take a flier on the hard-charging winger.