Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why I'm Starting to Doubt GMGM

This story goes back to 2006, when the Capitals acquired a first round draft pick from Nashville for Brendan Witt, their first round pick in 1993.

With that first round pick the Capitals selected goalie Semyon Varlamov 23rd overall. It was their second pick of the round after picking center Nicklas Backstrom third overall.

In the 2009 playoffs, Varlamov was stellar, and started to cement his eventual place as the starting goaltender for Washington. However, with the rise of Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, the Caps decided to trade Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche for a first round pick in the 2012 draft. With that pick, the Caps chose forward Filip Forsberg 11th overall.

Forsberg was regarded as one of the best prospects in the world, but at the 2013 trade deadline, the Caps sent him to Nashville for Martin Erat and Michael Latta.

All of you know the rest of the story. Erat received 4th line minutes and has requested a trade. With him having only scored one goal since coming to Washington, his trade value has plummeted.

So in summary, the Caps sent Brendan Witt, a former first round pick and one of Washington's highest scoring defensemen of all time for in essence a third round center and whatever the Caps can get for Erat.

I'm seriously starting to doubt GMGM.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What to be Thankful For

The Caps are in their 39th year in the NHL. In honor of Thanksgiving, the Caps have had a lot to be thankful for during their time. Here is what I, as a Caps fan, am thankful for:

  • Thank you, Rod Langway, for helping to keep the Caps in DC
  • Thank you, Dale Hunter, for the most important goal in Caps history
  • Thank you, Peter Bondra, for being the best darn 6th round pick there is
  • Thank you, Olaf Kolzig, for 15 awesome years
  • Thank you, Joe Juneau, for giving the Caps a shot at glory
  • Thank you, NHL, for not letting the Florida Panthers pick Alex Ovechkin in 2003
  • Thank you, 2004 draft lottery, for giving the Caps the number one overall pick
  • Thank you, Sergei Fedorov, for helping the Caps to a series win
  • Thank you, Joel Ward, for knocking out the defending champs
  • Thank you, Adam Oates (and Mike Milbury), for sparking the best player in the world again
  • Thank you, Washington Capitals, for 39 amazing years
  • And thank you, Caps fans everywhere, for being the best fans in the world year-in and year-out
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How Erat-Less Caps can Survive

The Capitals will probably be trading away winger Martin Erat within the next few weeks/months. GMGM has all but guaranteed that Erat will be traded, although the price remains unknown.

Assuming the Caps don't receive any important forwards in this trade, here is how the Caps can survive  this loss on the short and long-term.

Short-Term Lineup:


Funny how much of a difference one player makes, huh? This squad does not look as strong as one with Erat in it. Still, even using Adam Oates's handedness preference, the Caps can still put up a strong short-term lineup.

Long-Term Lineup:

Andre Burakovsky-Grabovski-Fehr
Chimera-Evgeni Kuznetsov-Riley Barber

Assuming Johansson can continue to play as well as he has so far this year, he could/should stay on the top line. For the second line, Burakovsky would end up the best of a weak left-wing position for the Caps, unless they can add another good prospect or a good player in trade. Fehr deserves some time in the top-6, or he may want out of DC as well. For the third line, assuming Kuznetsov comes over and Riley Barber continues his solid play, that would be a solid line, although Stan Galiev could take that spot. The fourth line looks a lot the same as now, and we may even be able to see Volpatti switching off with Laich. Notably, no Troy Brouwer or Joel Ward, who were left out on a strong right-wing side.

What do you think? How do you think an Erat trade would affect the Caps? Tell me in the comments.

P.S: Here is another sample trade that would help the Caps:
To Calgary- Martin Erat (RW), Troy Brouwer (RW)
To Washington- Sven Baertschi (LW), Patrick Sieloff (D)
The Flames seriously lack good right wingers, and here the Caps can send them two who need a change of scenery. The Flames still have talented left wingers behind Baertschi, although they may prefer to send Johnny Gaudreau instead. This gets rid of some un-needed right wingers and brings in players where the Caps need it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

How to Trade Away Martin Erat

Ed. Note: This was almost titled How to Get Rid of Martin Erat, but the author felt that was a little harsh. Anyways...

This morning, Martin Erat announced he wasn't satisfied with his playing time and requested a trade to a better Stanley Cup contender. First of all, good luck Martin, wherever you go, and I completely agree with you that this situation was mishandled. But, that's not the point right now, I'm not trying to go on a rant on GMGM, Adam Oates, and how STUPID they are for trading away a star prospect for a good player they played of the fourth line or scratched for most of the season and now he is requesting a trade and...

But I regress. My goal for this is to propose some trades which would be a win-win-win for the Caps, Erat, and the other team. So without further ado...

1. To San Jose- Martin Erat
To Washington- Matt Tennyson, mid to late-round 2014 draft pick
Tennyson is San Jose's top defensive prospect, and the Caps need good defensemen. Unfortunately, it is unlikely the Sharks would send him away, but stranger things have happened (like a team trading away one of the most talented prospects in the league for a 4th line prospect and a 30-year-old winger).

2. To Boston- Martin Erat, mid-round 2014 draft pick
To Washington- Joe Morrow, first/second-round 2014 draft pick
Again, the Caps will need to pay a price to get a good, young defenseman, but this trade is not too bad. The Bruins have a lot of talented prospect, and getting Erat would shore up a fairly thin wing with players such as Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith.

3. To Pittsburgh- Martin Erat
To Washington- Derrick Pouliot
This may be a potential black hole for the Caps, as Pouliot may not pan out, and as a one-to-one deal this is dangerous. However, Pouliot is one of the top defensive prospects in the league, and it's not like the Caps haven't taken risks before.

4. To Chicago- Martin Erat, third round 2014 draft pick
To Washington- Kris Versteeg
This is one of the least probable deals on here, but since the Blackhawks do not have a great prospect pool, they may be able to make use of Erat to shore up a shallow wing and use the pick to improve their prospects. Still, Versteeg may be too high a price, especially since he was just traded here.

What do you think? Who should the Caps get for Erat? Want to rant about how stupid GMGM and Adam Oates have been? Whatever it is, put it in the comments.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What's Wrong With Washington?

After a red-hot start to the season, the Caps have struggled in the last two games. They got destroyed 4-0 by Pittsburgh (ugh) and were outshot 40-18, and were down 3-0 early before coming up late in a rally against Montreal today.

However, there is not much different between the teams before and after the two-game disaster. Why is this team struggling as of late?

Here are some reasons:

  1. The defense just keeps getting better (note sarcasm). I gave them a D for the first quarter, and they have not done any better. After being absolutely terribly outshot against the Penguins, they gave up a high shot amount again, outshot 31-27 against Montreal today. This is the highest priority for Adam Oates to fix, because the Caps cannot win without fixing this.
  2. The goaltending has not exactly improved. Yes, Holtby and Neuvirth faced high shot volumes the last couple of days, but a lot of the goals they gave up were soft. Against Pittsburgh, especially, the first two goals should have been easy saves for Holtby, and Neuvirth should have stopped the first goal against Montreal. It's hard to blame them, but if not for the softies, the games may have had a different outcome.
  3. The special teams has become worse. Over those last two games, the power play is 1 for 5, and the penalty kill is 6 for 8. First of all, the Caps have to stop taking so many stupid penalties. Today, especially, they took a lot of unnecessary penalties. If/when they do go on the penalty kill, the Caps have to be a bit more agressive. If their power play has taught them anything, it should be that the best way to stop a power play is to hound their players, keep them from getting looks and space. Their power play has to learn how to counteract the other team when they employ that method, because the Caps just have not been having space to pass or shoot, and that is the entire power play for Washington.
  4. CONVERT! The Caps have had some really good chances, especially early on, in the past couple games. If the caps had converted on one or two of them, they would have had the momentum and the outcome may have been different. The Caps have to be able to score on their early opportunities, or we may be seeing another few games (or more) like the last two.
Let's hope the Caps can take care of these problems and do better in the near and far future.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

2014 First Quarter Grades

This is a sort of wrap-up of each quarter of the season as they come and arrive. Check out my version for the end of 2013 to get more info.

The Caps have had a pretty good first quarter of the year. We are currently atop the Metropolitan Division and have played and hung with/beat many tough teams. However, is it enough? Let's see the grades.

Grade: 90% (A-)
The Caps are only 20th in the league in goals allowed per game, but they are 5th in the league in team save percentage. That can only mean one thing: the goaltending is good, the defense is terrible (more on that below). Despite a rocky start to the season, Holtby and Neuvirth have been fantastic as of late, peaking currently at the 46-save masterpiece by Holtby against St. Louis yesterday. Both goaltenders once again came in with high expectations, and they seem to have all but met them thus far.
Top Performer: Braden Holtby
I really don't need to do any analysis for this.

Grade: 68% (D)
The Caps defense has been absolutely pathetic, especially at even strength. Although people like Carlson and Alzner are doing well, and Nate Schmidt, Steve Oleksy, and Alex Urbom are not doing bad either, the Caps are allowing way too many shots on goal. Against St. Louis, the Caps allowed 47 shots. Although there were not very many quality scoring opportunities, that is still way too many shots. Whenever the save percentage is so high and the GA/game is so high as well, that says something about the poor effort from the D.
Top Performer: Karl Alzner
John Carlson is the tempting choice, but the Caps D would have been even worse without Alzner. He has turned into the top shutdown defenseman for Washington, and currently leads the Caps in plus/minus. He also has chipped in with four assists. Although the defense must get better, Alzner has been a bright spot in an otherwise sad group.

Grade: 90% (A-)
The Caps offense has been firing on all cylinders; well, not all, but most of them. The second line still has to improve, but the MoJo-Backy-OV line has been fantastic, and the 'third line' of Chimera-Grabo-Wardo is arguably our most dangerous. The fourth line, led by Michael Latta and Tom Wilson, has also been pretty good for one of the top offenses in the league.
Top Performer: Nick Backstrom
I was sorely tempted to put Ovechkin here, and no doubt he is deserving, but Backstrom is in the midst of a sensational season. He has been able to put up points with and without Ovechkin, and is tied with him for the team lead in points. He is only behind Joe Thornton (and ahead of Sidney Crosby) in assists so far, and has shown that he should be in the discussion for the Top 5 centers in the league.

All in all, the Caps have had a solid start to the season. Although the defense needs work, the offense and goaltending has been very good, and has carried the Caps through the first quarter of the season. Hopefully this success will translate into an even better rest of the year.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Starting Six Part 3- All American

Continuing on the starting six, I now turn to countries; all time. And why not start with everybody's favorite, the USA?


  • Once again, you need one person from each position.
  • Everybody must be American.
  • You can pick anybody, retired or playing, who was/is American.
  • Post your lineup in the comments.
Here is my starting lineup:
Zach Parise-Pat LaFontaine-Brett Hull
Brian Leetch-Chris Chelios
John Vanbiesbrouck

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Starting Six Part 2: Half and Half

Continuing with the starting six stuff, we now go to a half-and-half.


  • Once again, you must have one left wing, one right wing, one center, two defensemen, and one goalie
  • Any three of these guys can be retired, but there must be EXACTLY three; same goes for current players
  • As always, put your six into the comment section
Here is my starting six:

Luc Robitaille-Wayne Gretzky-Alex Ovechkin
Zdeno Chara-Bobby Orr
Henrik Lundqvist

Starting Six Part 1: All of the Old

Branching out a bit, I pose this question: If you could have a starting six of all retired players, who would you choose?


  • Everybody must be retired
  • You need 1 goalie, two defensemen, one left wing, one right wing (yes, one of each), and one center
  • Positions are based on official positions.
Tell me your lineup in the comments. Just for fun, here is mine:

Luc Robitaille-Wayne Gretzky-Gordie Howe
Bobby Orr-Nicklas Lidstrom
Dominik Hasek

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Complicated Business of Capitals Forward Lines

After a perhaps more than brief hiatus due to lots of work, Caps Circle is back on air!

A lot has happened since the last post (and I mean A LOT), but the most pressing concern right now is how the Caps forward lines should look once Alex Ovechkin (remember him?) comes back from injury on Tuesday. The Caps have played well without him, but against two bottom feeders nonetheless. So once OV is back, how should the lines look?

This is a really hard job, because the Caps have many top-6 capable forward. Still, here are my projected line combos. Take note, Adam.


Or, if numbers are your thing:


The first and third lines are both extremely solid, and the fourth line is pretty good to, although Jay Beagle could take Latta's current job when he comes back from illness. The second line is the question. I would have put MoJo in the center position, but Adam Oates hates playing people on their off-wing, and Fehr and Brouwer are both righties. Still, Fehr has not done badly at center, and would certainly be an upgrade on Brooks Laich right now.

Speaking of Laich, what's wrong with him? He's been moving a lot slower than usual and making much more turnovers than usual. I don't like having to demote him to the fourth line, but he is the odd man out right now. Still, that second line is definitely the make-or-break line, and we could see many different looks cycling Johansson, Fehr, and Laich before Oates is comfortable.

Still, this is a pretty good roster for the next few games at least.