NHL Trade News: Washington Capitals Shed Salary by Trading Eric Fehr

Jack SouleCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 9:  Tomas Vokoun #29 of the Florida Panthers makes a save against Eric Fehr #16 of the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on December 9, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

This afternoon, Danick Paquette's name likely blew up in Google search topics as thousands of Washington Capitals fans probably wanted to know more about the unknown prospect they just received in a trade.

At 5 p.m. EST, Washington Capitals Vice President and General Manger George McPhee announced that the Capitals traded RW Eric Fehr to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a fourth-round pick and 20 year-old prospect Danick Paquette.

At the moment, this looks like a pretty fair trade; however, this is the kind of trade where we won't really know the winner for a year or two or three.

Eric Fehr is a former first-round draft pick and a one-time 20-goal scorer. Fehr is something of a sniper, power-forward hybrid. The 25-year-old Manitoba native is good in front of the net and has a hard and fairly accurate wrist shot.

Also, weighing in at 212 pounds (if memory serves me correctly, this stat is no longer correct as he put on about 12-15 pounds during the 2010 offseason) and standing at 6'4" tall, he has a body that can be thrown around well.

The problems with Eric Fehr are that, as a first-round pick who showed great potential—he scored 50 goals and 84 points for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL through 71 games in the 2003-2004 season—he has never really come into his own and consistently under-performs.

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And that great wrist shot? Well, it never goes in. Fehr is a guy who puts a lot of shots on net but just can't seem to finish. When he is on his game, he can be deadly, but he is not on his game very often. Although he had one 20-goal season, Fehr is not a proven scorer.

Fehr first saw NHL action when he played 11 games in the 2005-2006 regular season. In his time in the Show, he amassed exactly zero points. In the next campaign, he saw action in 14 NHL games and posted two goals and one assist.

When Bruce Boudreau assumed the head-coaching position in the 2007-2008 season, Fehr saw a bit more NHL action as Bruce was familiar with Fehr, who played for Bruce in Hershey.

In that season, Fehr played in 23 games and notched only one goal and five assists. During that year's postseason, he played in five games and recorded one goal on five shots.

After three seasons of limited NHL action, Fehr finally looked ready for full-time NHL duties. Fehr played in 61 games during the 2008-2009 regular season. What really showed that Fehr was ready for full-time duties that year was his raised level of confidence.

Fehr looked more confident that season as he began to take more shots per game and netted a higher percentage of those shots.

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Danick Paquette #59 of the Atlanta Thrashers against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the preseason opener at Phillips Arena on September 21, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

No. 16 for the Capitals was good for 12 goals and 25 points that season.

Then came Fehr's one-and-only 20-goal season. In the '09-'10 campaign, Fehr broke that all-important threshold with 21 goals, 39 points and a plus-18 that season. He looked like he was finally developing into the scorer he was supposed to be.

Of course, the Caps' offensively-starved season came this last year and Fehr's numbers dropped in production. Fehr only had 10 goals and 10 assists. 

Everyone's numbers dropped in the Nation's Capital last year, but Fehr just didn't look like he did the previous season. Despite the fact that he was skating with well-developing star playmaking center, Marcus Johansson, for a lot of the season, Fehr was not able to perform his duties well.

Not only did Fehr not score enough, but as a big-bodied power forward right wing, he did not do well in puck battles along the board, failed to get the puck out of the zone on too many occasions and did not fare well (no pun intended) in front of the net.

This was supposed to be a good season for Fehr, as he broke the 20-goal threshold the previous year and then put on some solid muscle during the off-season.

Unfortunately, Fehr never realized his potential here in Washington. At his best, he looked like a promising young scorer. He may be one of those guys who just never transforms his scoring touch in juniors into NHL success.

Eric Fehr will continue as an able NHLer, but did Winnipeg get a future 20-goal (or more) scorer or a streaky third-liner?

Another downside to Eric Fehr is that he doesn't score enough to be a second-liner and does not like the throw the body, so he's not an ideal third-liner, either. Fehr also is not a great depth guy, as he consistently misses stretches of games due to small injuries and he is also not great at scoring when it matters.

However, if Eric Fehr ever turns into the player he was supposed to, then Winnipeg may come out on top of this trade.

On the other hand, let's take a brief look at what Washington got as compensation.

First of all, we all knew there was a trade coming, and Eric Fehr and Alex Semin looked like the most likely candidates. As much as Caps fans might want Semin to be dealt away, the Caps franchise seems to be very invested in him and doesn't plan on giving him away.

George McPhee and the Caps' front office supposedly offered Semin a multi-year contract extension last year, but it was Semin who only wanted a one-year deal. 

As my dad has always said—Alex Perlmutter of OnFrozenBlog said the same thing in an article on Semin this morning—Semin is the key to the Caps' success. Without Semin, opposing checkers and defensemen have an easy time having to shut down only one line of scorers.

With Semin in the mix, you have two of the deadliest Russians ever to play the game on separate lines, bringing more than your average two scoring lines to the table. 

That said, since acquiring Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward (and also considering that Jay Beagle is slowly but surely developing into a capable fourth-liner), the Caps had an excess of right-handers and it made sense that one would have to go.

So, to start, Washington has ensured that the players it has recently placed value in will receive an adequate amount of playing time. The Caps also shed $2.2 million off of their books, bringing them back under the salary cap.

Danick Paquette. Who is he?

Paquette actually looks like a very promising young player and the kind of player the Caps could use. Since trading Stefan Della Rovere to the St. Louis Blues for DJ King, the Caps have had a lack of quality tough guys who also contribute skill to the roster in the prospects system.

Paquette is a 20-year-old who loves to throw the body and is very good at it. Going into the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Paquette was second in PIMs in the QMJHL with 213 and was also third on his team with 29 goals. 

He models his game after Chris Neil and Sean Avery. Given, these guys are not favorites among NHL fans, but Paquette seems to be a classy kid, as you would expect from someone in the Capitals organization.

This kid loves to scrap and is great at it, but at only age 20, he is already involved in charity work with the Boys and Girls Club of Auburn/Lewiston.

So in return for a guy who at present seems to be a flunk of a first-round pick, the Caps got a promising young prospect who loves the physical stuff but also has a great pair of hands in front of the net.

As I said, Paquette loves the physical stuff but he's also really good at it. He is excellent at finishing his checks and intimidating other players and loves to drop the mitts.

When he does, this kid is a really smart fighter. He has a heavy pair of hands and is great at getting the upper hand in a fight with body-positioning and by outsmarting his opponent.

It is yet to be determined if Paquette will be at the Capitals development camp next weekend but if he is, be sure to tune back in to Bleacher Report and read my article summarizing this year's promising young talent.

In the meantime, head on over to YouTube and watch some of the montages of his play in the QMJHL, ECHL and AHL.

Also, now that the Caps have already made one move to get under the salary cap, keep looking for another as they have yet to sign critical RFA Karl Alzner and doing so will put them back over the salary cap.

It looks more and more likely that Tom Poti may not be able to return to playing the game, in which case his $2.8 million cap hit would come off the books.

I doubt there will be a big-name trade at this point, so look for Poti to retire or a guy like Jeff Schultz to be traded.

But, to conclude, farewell, Eric Fehr. 

I think more than this trade benefits either organization, I think it will benefit Eric Fehr. Hopefully getting out of DC and getting more ice time and maybe a different coach to play under will help Fehr realize his potential.

I am sure I speak for everyone who Rocks the Red when I wish him well.


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