Sunday, February 25, 2007

Let's Make a Deal!

OK, Monty . . . I'll ta-a-a-a-a-ke . . . door number-r-r-r-r-r . . . three-no-one-no-two-no . . . oh, this is so hard!

Well, we’re down to the nub of it. The trading deadline is fast approaching, and the rumors will be coming fast and furious up to the 3:00 pm (Eastern) Tuesday deadline. Who for the Caps has a “trade me” sign pasted to his back?

Richard Zednik (32 games, 6-12-18, -4). Zednik will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, one marred by injury. Instead of manning the right side of the first or second line, as projected last fall, he is trying merely to rehabilitate his season as the schedule winds to the trading deadline. At this point, it seems a virtual certainty he will be dealt. The likely return?...a third or fourth round pick.

Dainius Zubrus (60 games, 20-32-52, -16). Another unrestricted at year-end, the sticking point here has been his agreeing to terms with the club on an extension. The scenario is unfolding as the classic “get something for him before he walks.” A player who can play any forward position and in any situation has value, but Caps fans might overvalue him based on the “Ovechkin effect” (he has a career best in goals, assists, and points last year, and is on a pace to set new career bests in each this year). This could be one of those deals that will be talked about by Caps fans for some time to come. It really is a critical deal in that the return will be expected to fill a hole in the short term. The Peerless doubts Atlanta is offering up Boris Valabik and a draft pick (don’t laugh . . . it’s no more wacky than any other deal they’ve made so far), but we’ll make a prognostication in the spirit of Don Waddell . . . watch that first rounder Montreal secured from San Jose for Craig Rivet. That, and Andrei Kostitsyn, will be coming south for Zubrus and perhaps a mid-round pick.

Jamie Heward (52 games, 4-11-15, +3). Heward had a slow re-start after sustaining a gruesome skate-blade injury against Dallas on November 30. In the first 15 games he played upon his return, he was 1-1-2, -4. In his last 16 games, he is 1-6-7, +5. Not Gonchar-esque, but it might be enough to return a fourth round pick.

Ben Clymer (55 games, 7-10-17, -14). Clymer had had a difficult year, even by the standards of a young, struggling team. Starting on defense – and experiment that ended after a dozen games – he dug himself into a hole and never really recovered to the level of performance he displayed last season. That the Caps have an abundance of 3rd/4th line types of forward, plus a $983,000 cap hit for Clymer over the next two seasons, makes him expendable. There is a rumor (ok, it’s Bruce Garrioch – Ottawa’s answer to Larry Brooks) that the Penguins are interested. If he brings back more than a fifth round pick, it would be a surprise, and that’s unfortunate. Clymer is one of those guys who has done all that’s been asked of him and given an honest effort each night. One wishes the year could have gone better for him, and if he isn’t moved, that this year is but a blip on the career radar.

Steve Eminger (53 games, 1-12-13, -7). He’s been a healthy scratch since playing against the Rangers on February 10th (six games), and the speculation is that he was being held out in anticipation of a trade. The Peerless doesn’t buy that argument. Rather, The Peerless thinks he was sat down to showcase Jamie Heward. Even with Mike Green returned to Hershey, the return of John Erskine to the lineup meant that someone had to sit, and the guy you sit isn’t the one you’re showcasing for purposes of shopping. In fact, sitting him would likely have depressed his value. He’s not going anywhere.

Kris Beech (45 games, 6-14-20, -5). It would appear unlikely that he will be moved at the deadline. There just would not appear to be a market for him.

Brian Sutherby (60 games, 5-9-14, -2). He’s had a disappointing year offensively, but he’s only -2 on this club (a 15 point improvement on last year). Was last year’s 14-goal season a fluke? This year has been hard to explain. This is the last year on his current deal, which might complicate the matter of whether to move him. The Peerless’ magic 8-ball says he stays.

The Caps will be sellers, but The Peerless suspects they will be picky sellers. There is no obvious pressure to make a deal, although there would be the "move him or lose him" thinking attached to Zednik and Zubrus. Caps fans might look at the deals Atlanta made and think -- gee, maybe Pittsburgh will send Jordan Staal for Zednik. Let's not get carried away with other folks' wackiness.

The Morning After -- Caps vs. Devils II

-- Comcast Cable feed dark --

Laich scores goal...

-- Comcast feed goes dark again --

skating back and forth...

-- dark again...

I hear the Caps lost. Thanks, Comcast. I guess I'll still get that bill on time, though.

Insanity, thy name is "Waddell"

First, the Thrashers give up a good portion of their future by sending defenseman prospect Braydon Coburn to Philadelphia for Alexei Zhitnik, who happens to be 13 years older than Coburn. This morning, reports that the Thrashers have dealt multiple draft picks (including a first rounder) and a roster player* to St. Louis for forward Keith Tkachuk, a guy who is on pace for a 58-point season (using that standard, Dainius Zubrus -- on a pace for a 71-point season -- should fetch Jordan Staal and Ryan Whitney from Pittsburgh) and who is due to be come a free agent at the end of this season.

Panic on GM Don Waddell's part? Concern that his job is in jeopardy? These are moves that scream "sell our souls for right now." Atlanta has been sinking like a rock in February (2-7-2 overall) and is now only two points from dropping out of the playoff mix altogether.

This was the year Atlanta was supposed to make the playoffs. If they don't . . .

. . . well, that's why these kinds of moves are made. Trouble is, if they don't work out, Atlanta is setting themselves up for some major steps backward.

* update: reports that the deal is Tkachuk for:

- a first-round pick in 2007
- a third-round pick in 2007
- a second-round pick in 2008
- CenterGlen Metropolit.

All for a rental.

Ten-HUT!!! Caps-Devils II

Now, I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a hockey game by taking a penalty for his team. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard take a penalty for his team. Men, all this stuff you’ve heard about the Caps not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the contest, is a lot of horse dung. Caps traditionally love to fight. All real Caps love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball player, the toughest boxer. Caps fans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Caps play to win all the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Caps have never lost and will never lose a game. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Capitals.

Now, a hockey club is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, checks as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for ESPN don’t know anything more about real hockey games than they do about fornicating.

We have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit and the best men in the world. You know, by God I actually pity those poor bastards we’re going up against. By God, I do. We’re not just going to check the bastards, we’re going to cut out their living guts and use them to tape the blades of our sticks. We’re going to hit those lousy Devil bastards by the bushel.

Now, some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty. The Devils are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Check them into the boards. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do.

Now there’s another thing I want you to remember. I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We’re not holding anything. Let Jersey do that. We are advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we're gonna go through him like crap through a goose.

There’s one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home. And you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what did you do in the great National Hockey League, you won’t have to say, "Well, I shoveled shit in DC."

Alright now, you sons-of-bitches, you know how I feel. Oh, and I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle – anytime, anywhere.

That’s all.