Just like any hard core hockey fan I love nothing more than to play the role of general manager. At least when I'm not too busy playing the role of the coach or the owner.
With right wing Viktor Kozlov and center Sergei Fedorov leaving for the luscious green pastures of the KHL retirement community (also a reported destination of the much maligned and sparingly used center Michael Nylander) the Capitals main replacement needs are a first line right winger and a second line center.
By far the best center available.
By far the second best center available. Just one short of a 40-goal season with Calgary this past season makes him an extremely rare commodity. A bona fide goal scoring center.
A rare combination of size and skill, I believe, Antropov has more to give that what we have seen from him so far. I predicted that he'd be a good rental signing for the Rangers at the end of this past season and he did not disappoint.
Reportedly Nik wants a lot of money. If I were to paraphrase the Rangers GM Glenn Sather he asked his agent to come down from the clouds a bit after receiving his first contract extension proposal.
Saku is getting a bit long in the tooth and has been injury prone in recent years, but he is the best center out there if the Capitals are unable to sign the top three on this list.
At 34 he can still be very effective as a second line center, which is what the Capitals need with the departure of Sergei Fedorov and Michael Nylander seemingly not figuring in the team's plans.
Stephane Yelle, Michael Zigomanis
The last two on the centers list are players of limited value and are not really someone I would consider candidates for a second line center, but are excellent on face-offs, good checkers and can be had for a bowl of soup in comparison to the ones I listed above them.
While injury prone Gaborik is still one of the most dynamic forwards in the NHL at any position as he proved once again when he rushed his comeback from injury to try and get the scoring challenged Minnesota Wild into the playoffs this past season.
Despite being at only about 85% (according to himself) he absolutely tore it up for 23 points in just 17 games, including 13 goals. If that is what Gaborik can do playing for the Wild imagine what numbers he can put up as a first line right wing alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
He might come with a bit of a discount considering his history of injuries even though this discount will be akin to the discounts you might see at a Hugo Boss store.
Not much needs to be said about Marian Hossa. Despite a bit of a disappearing act in this season's Stanley Cup final you won't find a better right winger in this crop of NHL free agents.
This guy can do it all and can be the perfect foil for Ovechkin who is not big on playing defense. The prospect of playing alongside the Great 8 on an exciting young team which should be able to challenge for the Cup next year might be quiet enticing to Marian.
A player with the hands of gold who showed his toughness and hard nosed nature in this season's playoffs. If we can't sign Gaborik or Hossa he's by far the next best choice.
An embodiment of the term "enigmatic Russian" Kovalev is still one of the most skilled players in the game and just young enough to be of value.
Uniting him with the Capitals merry band of young Russians might be just what the doctor ordered for this professional hockey player / amateur pilot. If you're still skeptical think of it this way. Could he be at least as effective at Big Vik was? I think so.
Reportedly off to the KHL, yet the Capitals just might be able to entice this former Cap back to Washington after a season that should have probably earned him the comeback player of the year award after a near death experience.
A player who has overcome his diminutive size to be a very effective NHL winger and still has speed to burn. 20 goals in New Jersey could easily turn into 30 or more playing with Ovechkin and Backstrom in the Caps run and gun system. He can certainly keep up with those two.
One of those players that no one outside of Detroit knows about he has been used more as a spare part on the deepest team in the NHL, but possesses the skills of a top six winger, in my opinion.
Finally we come to the part of the program where the picking are becoming really slim. Max is an incredibly skilled, but just as incredibly under achieving player who can look like the most exciting winger in the game one night and pull the invisible man act for the next ten.
I still can't help, but like him and think that he could be an interesting reclamation project for the Capitals due to their playing style and the abundance of Russians.
Due to under achieving he could also be one of those shiny things you find in a bargain bin at your local department store.
Reportedly, he's off to the KHL as well.
Signed by Pittsburgh this past season as a possible winger for either Sidney Crosby or Yevgeniy Malkin he did not exactly work out as planned, but we saw flashes of what he can do when given more of a chance in the playoffs due to some injuries.
Miro is still a highly skilled player albeit with some motivational issues, but at this depth I would take him.
Still relatively young and skilled. Good speed and shot.
See Miroslav Satan above.
Still has the hands to clean up the garbage around the net (hat trick in his first game for Dallas this year) might be a Filene's Basement type bargain for our first line and willing to go to the net.
We don't really need one, but if we could sign one of these I'm sure we could find some use for them.
Everything that could have possibly been written about him has already been written. At least ten times.
It's highly unlikely that we could get him considering that Calgary just gave up a good roster player plus a draft pick for the sheer privilege of talking to him before anyone else gets to (frankly an insane move, in my opinion) and we already have Mike "Lambogreenie" Green.
Still, he is available and as such I have no choice, but to put him at the top of my defense list.
Quite overrated, in my opinion, yet might be exactly what the Capitals need in terms of toughness. Yes, he did get his bootie kicked by Milan Lucic on multiple occasions, but not many non-enforcers in the NHL would even dare dropping the gloves with the Bruins man child.
Consider him an improved John Erskine-2009 model.
No one ever talks about this player which, in my opinion, makes him very underrated. Dennis has good offensive skills, can skate, pass the puck, play the point on the power play and has a heavy shot. The Capitals could do a lot worse.
An excellent offensive minded defenseman who, just as Seidenberg, doesn't get the attention he deserves.
Zubov has been talking about retirement after missing most of this past season with injuries, which is the only reason he's so low on my list. Everyone knows what he can do when healthy.
Blake was one of the best free agent signings of this past season rediscovering his offensive abilities at the ripe age of 39. He will be 40 this season, but he might still be effective in a limited role (especially on the power play).
Scuderi was excellent in this year's playoffs. Just in time to get everyone to notice him at the end of his contract. A good defensive defenseman.
This guy can really pass the puck. Power play specialist.
Another underrated player, the Latvian moved his way up the pecking order in Florida and was used in all situations. Good defensively with some limited offensive skills.
A highly skilled Russian can thrive in the right situation.
Don't need one.
Some readers may roll their eyes at some of my choices, but those should mostly be my depth picks. That is to say that I would sign these players only if the Capitals couldn't get their paws on anyone I listed above them.