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McPhee Makes Safe Choice

Today had all the makings of a busy day for the Washington Capitals.  Currently sitting in 9th place, the Caps looked primed to make a move that could push them into the playoffs.  This though process seemed reinforced as they started off the day by placing Nicklas Backstrom on LTIR, effectively taking his $6+ million cap hit off the books for the remainder of the season.  This turned out to be all for naught, as the trade deadline has come and gone without the Capitals making one move.

The Capitals appeared to be in the market for a quality center who could help the Capitals fill the hole left by Nicklas Backstrom.  They also seemed to have quite a few pieces that were expendable.  Over the past couple of weeks, we have watched as players like Mike Knuble and Roman Hamrlik found their way into Hunter’s doghouse, and seemed to be important factors in bringing in that coveted center.  The Capitals also had lucrative young players, like Cody Eakin and Matthieu Perreault who could have helped sweeten the deal.  Instead, the Capitals will now be forced to fight their way into the playoffs with a team that struggles to win consistently, or on the road.

When the clock struck 3:00, I actually refused to believe that McPhee could have chosen to stand pat.  I was waiting for a last minute deal to be announced that would have brought a Grabovski, or the like, to help.  As the time passed, I began to realize that not only did McPhee make the “safe” move, but he also made the right one.  While I do not possess any inside knowledge of what transpired today, I can say that not much did.  The fact remains that there are just too many teams who are still in contention. 

There could be no incentive for the Maple Leafs to trade Grabovski to us, just as it would be hard for us to justify giving them anything they needed.  Take a look at the 15 trades that were made today.  Eight of these trades, and the more notable ones, took place between teams from different conferences.  The other issue is that only 5 teams currently sit more than 6 points out of playoff contention.  This typically leads to a much lower amount of sellers.  Even those interested in selling were able to inflate their prices, given the lack of alternative option for bubble teams.

Sami Pahlsson required 2 draft picks just to move from horrible Columbus, and frankly he wouldn’t have helped the Capitals.
Cody Hodgson required a top-notch prospest like Kassian to move from Vanouver, and his youth would not have been ideal for the Capitals.

Paul Gaustad cost Nashville a first rounder, and that would have been far too high, given the strength of this year’s class, for the Capitals to surrender.

Yes, I fully admit that the Capitals are in dire need of help, specifically at the center position.  But there was just no good move for McPhee to make.  I think he also sees that this team seems to be turning a corner.  A recent good run, when added with the lack of available trading partners, certainly helps reinforce McPhee’s feeling about this team.  This was never an issue of the Caps making a move to win them the Cup.  I fail to see how any move could have been made to make the Capitals cup contenders.  Any move he would have made would have just been to help them sneak into the playoffs.  The true fate of this Capitals franchise will come in July when they will have many more options to decide from in adding center depth, not the least of which will be Kuznetsov.  The only thing I truly could change about today is that they could have unloaded some salary cap.

From here, McPhee has put all his faith in his current squad.  There are 20 games remaining in the season, starting with hosting the New York Islanders tomorrow night and New Jersey on Friday.  I still believe this squad has what it takes to make the playoffs, even win the division.  The most important factor will remain the play of guys like Perreault, Aucoin, and Ward to help take some of the scoring pressure of off the top guns. 

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About F Street Faithful

Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate.  This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals.  The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.

In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at  York College of Pennsylvania.  I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland. 

You can follow me on twitter @FStreetTate but I must warn that I do tweet about more than hockey. You can also e-mail me at any time at overtheboard@gmail.com.