The Washington Capitals seem poised for a deep playoff run this year, that much is undisputed. Yet, there is the constant refrain that this team is still lacking a big-time, complete blue-liner.
Then again, not many teams have enough of those that the Caps can scoop one up without some serious tradeoffs. Those tradeoffs are likely to cause a bit of pain for some Caps fans.
For some time now, I've thought Alexander Semin was signed to a one-year extension in preparation for including him in a trade for Nashville's free agent-to be Ilya Kovalchuck. Many decry such a trade as "offense for offense when we need defense." The point is valid, but I see Kovalchuck as a more complete, more consistent offensive forward than is Semin.
For those who would prefer to see a defenseman make his way to Washington in any trade prior to the deadline, I offer you Calgary Flames' Dion Phaneuf. Here is a 24-year-old defenseman, 6'3" and 213 lbs., who is signed through the 2013/14 season at an average salary of just under $6.5 million.
Phaneuf can score with his heavy, hard howitzer, and he loves to lower the boom on an opposing player. He's the defensive version of Alex Ovechkin. A force on the power play, Phaneuf is equally noticed for his very sound positioning in his own end. His presence would improve the numbers and confidence of Washington's two young netminders.
What would Phaneuf cost General Manager George McPhee (GMGM)? The Flames cannot score, so I'd start with Semin. You have to give something of value in order to get something of value. With the Caps near the salary cap limit, dollars become an issue and this swap is fairly close. The Flames would not take this as a straight up trade, so the Caps need to sweeten the deal.
Goalie Jose Theodore is opening eyes lately with his play, but he is not the Caps future. Trade him while he's hot. The Flames are set in goal, but Theo could be flipped to a third team for players/picks that would make their way to Calgary. So, Semin, a back-end defenseman, and most/all of the haul for Theodore might be tempting for Calgary, especially if there are some offensive-minded prospects making their way north.
GMGM—pick up the phone and give them a call!