Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Logic of the Bargain

We've been listening to Brian Burke holding forth with the press in Toronto, and it is like sitting in on a seminar in long-term planning. The money quote from Burke was this...

"I'm scared to death of 2010."

And in that, you might see why the Caps did not make a deal today. Rule One of cap management these days is to get bargains, and that means guys performing -- and contributing -- on their entry or early career contracts. If you deal those guys for rentals or players with term left on their contracts, you run a substantial risk. If the cap contracts in 2010 due to bigger problems in the larger economy, and you've moved your young guys for short-term -- not to mention uncertain -- benefit, you have decimated your capacity to get bargains.

Guys like Karl Alzner, Simeon Varlamov, John Carlson, Oskar Osala, Michal Neuvirth...they and others might be contributors in 2010/2011. They will be bargains if they do so, allowing the Caps to keep guys like Semin, Green, and others without shedding other salary and becoming what Tampa became...a shell of Lecavalier and St. Louis with little else underneath.

As Burke put it, GM's aren't interested in the snapshot, they're looking at the movie. It suggests a longer view than a lot of fans have, especially when their team didn't make any deals today.

Another thing to keep in mind...NHL teams are permitted four recalls after the trade deadline. It will be something to watch.

Diary of a Mad Blogger -- Trading Day

The Peerless Prognsoticator is ON THE AIR!!!

We're at Peerless Central on this, Trading Day 2009, and we'll be using this space to chronicle the day's events as NHL celebrates Christmas in March. By sundown, we have every expectation that we'll be a coffee-soaked, donut-stuffed, quivering puddle of blogging-goo, but here we go...

7:30...Coffee in hand, we check the NHL news sites...Pronger is off the market (sportsnet, TSN)...Tarik El-Bashir says, "I think what we saw tonight underscored the Caps' need for a proven goalie to backup Theodore, just in case the No. 1 gets hurt or struggles." At the moment, couldn't agree more. Now I'll go read about what I saw last, I don't have a film library of crash scenes.

9:20...Leave to Larry. Caught this blurb in Brooks' column at the New York Post...

"The Rangers are believed to have been offered Tampa Bay left wing Ryan Malone in exchange for Marc Staal. The answer was no, as it will be to any request for Staal that doesn't feature Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby coming the other way."

Who is this guy's pharmacist? Only in New York could anyone value a Marc Staal with an Ovechkin, Crosby or Malkin.

9:25...If you want to know how difficult it will be for the Caps to make a trade today, check out this table. Even if 30 NHL team capologists might disagree with the exact numbers, it probably serves as a very useful guide for who can and can't make deals without undertaking some major finagling.

9:35...after reading the Post and Times accounts of last night's game, and listening to Coach Bruce Broudreau's post game comments, I can't help but think, "this team is still too young to win right now." When they get hit with a bit of adversity, they start running around like, I don't know what sort of thing George McPhee has in his bag of tricks for today, but someone who can settle the boys down and provide some hard-nosed leadership seems to be climbing on the "top things to do" list.

9:50... "The Capitals may make a play for Afinogenov." Ladies and gentlemen, the proof that Dwayne really is built for comedy, not for prognostication.

9:55...Filip Kuba re-signed with Ottawa. Sorry, Kuba-fans...

10:10...Vermette for Pascal Leclaire and a second rounder. This could be a nice deal for Columbus. Vermette seemed to gag on the arbitration-avoiding contract he signed last summer. 28 points in 62 games wasn't what the Senators were envisioning. This is one of those "change of scenery" trades for him. As for Leclaire?...Hey, why not? It's a gamble, given the injuries he's had this year, but who else in Ottawa's system isn't a gamble at the moment?

Caps Impact...three pucks (of four). Vermette can play center or wing. If Nylander was at all a possibility for going to the Jackets (not likely, unless the family loves Buckeye football), it was diminished with this deal.

10:35....TSN (to Toronto GM Brian Burke): "Do you expect Dominic Moore and Nik Antropov to move today [because talks have broken off with Moore]?" Burke: "Yes."

Would that we have such eloquence throughout the day.

10:50...Tim Connolly, two years, $9 million. Let's recap...Connolly has played a total of 142 games in three-plus years since the lockout. The term "injury-prone" was invented for this guy. If he plays his average number of games per season over the two years of this contract, the Sabres are on the hook for $120,000 per game. Here is a useful comparison... $118,000. That is the cost per game of Alex Ovechkin, given the average number of games he's played per season since the lockout. Gamble for Buffalo? Ya think?

11:10..."Things are percolatin'...BlackBerry's are buzzin'." The TSN boys are fillin' time.

11:15...Pierre sez, "[the Caps need] PANGER!" Pierre sez..."there is some concern...that the Caps are too cool for school." Pierre is just getting warmed up.

11:20...Trade Day held hostage...90 minutes since the last (actually, the only) trade. Let our GM's go!

11:40...Jordan Leopold has been sent to Calgary. Colorado gets Lawrence Nycholat and a draft pick.

Really? Did someone have pictures of Colorado executives with a sheep? Maybe there's more to this deal...

edit...Colorado gets Montreal's second round pick and prospect defenseman Ryan Wilson, in addition to Nycholat.

Caps impact...two pucks. One less place for Derek Morris to land, although the consensus is that the teams focused on Morris were Washington, Philadelphia, and Boston.

12:15...Buffalo gets goalie Mikael Tellqvist from Phoenix for a 4th rounder. We do not think this will open the floodgates on a torrent of trades. Buffalo fans aren't even interested.

Caps a grain of sand hitting concrete.

We just got back from running an errand, and find that Caps fans no longer care about trades...

Edit...if karma is what it is, the slap shot came from Nylander's stick (although the last slap shot he fired was probably when mastodons roamed the earth).

12:35...gosh, where has my head been?...Andy Woz-blah-blah for Danny Richmond. OK. And, Martin Gerber goes to Toronto, Brendan Morrison goes to Dallas, Craig Adams goes to Pittsburgh, waiver deals all. Better put another pot o' coffee on...we are getting sleeeeepy.

12:40...Boston sends Petteri Nokelainen to Anaheim for Steve Montador? Did we hear that right? Virtually a salary cap wash.

Caps impact...two pucks. A defenseman goes to Boston. Whether that affects the Morris dynamic, we'll see. Montador might fill the physical role they might have envisioned for Morris (Montador is a UFA after this year). Pierre doesn't like Morris. He likes Leopold more, and Dennis Wideman is "Morris times ten." Did Morris shoot Pierre's dog last week?

12:40...Olli Jokinen finally gets to play for a playoff team...Calgary gets him for Matt Lombardi, Brandon Prust, and a first rounder. Not only did Calgary overpay, but we're thinking this is one of those deals that will affect chemistry, and not in a good way for Calgary.

Caps impact...half a puck, although this might be the deal to start a cascade of other deals.

1:00...We're listening to Mike, Brett and Tarik on Capitals Report. Very entertaining, very candid.

1:05...Martin Gerber is on the clock...Vesa Toskala is going on IR in Toronto. For those of you wondering about tomorrow night, Gerber is 4-9-1 this year. If the Caps are going to get well...

edit...hip and groin surgeries? eeeee-OUCH!

1:25...Mark Recchi to Boston. Big stuff. The Bruins are doing very well...Montador is a bargain, Recchi will fit in with that hard working style the Bruins play. The Bruins are the early leaders in the clubhouse on value obtained today.

edit...Boston also gets a 2010 2nd round draft pick, Tampa Bay gets Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums. That's probably a pretty good return, all things considered, for Tampa.

Caps effect...three and a half pucks. The Bruins might be done, which means the Caps and Flyers might be the only targets at this point for Morris, and we still have the matter of where Guerin is going to end up.

1:45...Caps fans are probably panicking right now, but keep in mind that the two guys that Caps perhaps have been most identified with as trade targets -- Derek Morris and Bill Guerin -- are still on the board.

2:00...Scratch Guerin. Off to Pittsburgh. Maybe the Penguins have a winger who at least can find his way to the net without a map and a chaperone.

edit...for a conditional draft pick. We can't help but think Guerin is not a Cap because of a no-movement clause in another contract that prevented another deal. The Caps had to have offered this much.

edit...the "conditional" appears to be anywhere between a third and a fifth rounder.

edit-edit...according to Islanders: Point Blank..."Guerin to Pitt for a 5th round pick. Becomes a 4 if the Pens make the playoffs, a 3 if they win a round and Billy plays half the games."

Caps effect...four pucks. Not only does Guerin come off the board (who a lot of folks thought had already been ticketed to Washington), but this might put a floor under the Penguins and allow them to stay in the lower half of the playoff draw...maybe finish sixth...and play the Caps.

2:25...our scorecard (OK, Sportsnet. ca's Trade Tracker) sez...eight trades so far...17 draft picks, one of which is a first rounder.

2:35...Chris Neil to Florida for...something.

Caps puck. Useful if it helps Florida keep Pittsburgh from climbing any higher, but the Caps get to see this guy two more times in the regular season, too.

edit...hmm...guess this didn't happen after all.

2:45...Carcillo from Phoenix to Philly for Upshall and a 2nd. Flyer fans will love Carcillo. For a while, anyway. This isn't 1975.

Caps pucks

Nik Antropov to the Rangers. Did New York just get softer?

edit...TSN says for a second and a conditional pick. Still not a great deal for the Rangers.

Caps effect...half a puck. Some folks might have thought Antropov was coming here. Not a chance (we say as an uninformed fan).

2:55...T-minus five minutes. There are still a lot of guys out there.

2:58...thinking about that Philly that a prelude to Morris going to Philly?'s all over but the announcing...

3:02...Morris to the Rangers. Unless the Caps have put something in someone's iced tea in Florida to get Bouwmeester for a bag o' rocks, we're probably done here.

edit...for Dmitri Kalinin, Petr Prucha, and Nigel Dawes. No, the Caps weren't going to offer that much.

Caps effect...four pucks. The Caps got shutout, at least for the guys rumored to be associated with the Caps.

3:10...Dominic Moore to Buffalo for a second round pick.

Caps effect...half a puck.

3:15...Of the top ten teams in the East, here are the noteworthy additions since February 1st so far...

Boston: Mark Recchi, Steve Montador
New Jersey: Niclas Havelid
Washington: none
Philadelphia: Daniel Carcillo
Montreal: Mathieu Schneider, Doug Janik
Florida: none
NY Rangers: Nik Antropov, Derek Morris
Pittsburgh: Bill Guerin, Chris Kunitz
Carolina: Jussi Jokinen
Buffalo: Mikael Tellqvist, Dominic Moore

3:18...Anaheim gets Erik Christensen from Atlanta for Eric O'Dell. We just thought we'd mention it.

Caps pucks.

3:30...Steve Eminger, your Southeast Division Ambassador of Love. His whirlwind tour continues as he heads from Tampa to Florida for Noah Welch and a third. These are a couple of guys who combined have 330 games of experience and have -- combined -- been employed by seven NHL franchises. Eminger has now been a member of every Southeast club except Carolina and Atlanta. Blockbuster? You be the judge.

Caps puck, if for nothing else than entertainment value and speculation as to when Eminger making the complete circuit of the Southeast and returns to Washington.

3:40...Columbus gets goalie Kevin Lalande from Calgary for a 4th rounder.

Caps effect... minus-one puck.

Chicago gets Samuel Pahlsson from Anaheim for defenseman James Wisniewski. Nice deal for Chicago.

Caps pucks.

Philly gets Kyle McLaren from San Jose for a 6th round pick.

Caps puck. Caps fans will berate management for not making a deal like this, but please. Pylons need not apply.

3:45...San Jose gets Travis Moen and Kent Huskins from Anaheim, for something... Isn't it illegal for these two teams to make a trade?

Edit..."something" is Nick Bonnino, goalie Timo Pielmeyer and a conditional draft pick

Caps pucks

3:50...Patrick O'Sullivan from LA to Carolina for...well, we'll find out soon enough, I suppose.

Caps effect...two pucks. Two goals in two games against Washington...

..oops! TSN is reporting O'Sullivan will end up in Edmonton. We're getting too old for this stuff.

...yup, O'Sullivan to Edmonton. Carolina ends up with Erik Cole. Justin Williams ends up in Los Angeles.

We're still here.

Caps effect... still two pucks for that whole "Back to the Future" thing with Cole going back to Carolina.

4:05...Tarik sez the Caps made no trades today, which means Caps fans will be hoping this statement is true..."sometimes, the best trades are the ones you never make."

4:20...Toronto obtained Olaf Kolzig (say 'huh?!') and Jamie Heward, Andy Rogers, and a 4th round pick from Tampa for Richard Petiot. That's entirely a cap management deal, and the TSN guys seem to think the league might not look kindly on it. Points for imaginative thinking.

Caps pucks.

4:30...and with that odd deal, we end today's look at Trading Day.