I was all set to do a long trade deadline preview for the Caps, but in the last two days the Caps have made two trades to address, or at least attempt to address, the holes in the lineup. In case you missed them:
1. Washington: Tim Gleason (D)
Carolina: Jack Hillen (D) + 2015 4th
2. Washington: Curtis Glencross (F)
Calgary: 2015 2nd + 2015 3rd
Washington's biggest holes entering the deadline were at 1RW and 2C. Instead, so far management have upgraded our 6D, even though there is a better upgrade named Nate Schmidt playing in Hershey, and added a middle-6 winger who could potentially help out the struggling 2nd and 3rd lines.
As it stands now, here are the potential Caps lines, with Andre Burakovsky likely going to Hershey for a bit:
Barring any more trades, the Caps still haven't done anything to address the black hole that is Troy Brouwer on the second line. His Fenwick (Unblocked Shot Attempts) is second worst on the team, better only than Jason Chimera, who has drawn the majority of Caps fans' ire this year. His Corsi (Total Shot Attempts) is also better only than Chimera among Caps forwards. At this point, Brouwer really should not be playing Top-6 minutes.
One solution would be to bump Brouwer down to Line 3 or 4 and either put Wilson or Burakovsky on the second line. This would allow Glencross to take Brouwer's second line role, since Glencross has been better than Brouwer on a poorer team (see HERO charts at ownthepuck.blogspot.ca -- I'm not able to screenshot right now for some reason).
Optimally, without any more trades, here's how I'd like to see the Caps' forward lines look:
Still, the team would be better off with a proven 1st line winger who can fill in capably for at least two years, by which time the next wave of prospects such as Jakub Vrana and Riley Barber should be ready for the big time. Patrick Sharp would've been perfect for that role, but he will not be traded.
There really aren't any more big name 1st line wingers available, which means the Caps will have to get creative to address that problem.
The best option would be James Van Riemsdyk of Toronto. Unfortunately, he would likely require a king's ransom. If something like this would work:
Washington: James Van Riemsdyk (F)
Toronto: 2015 1st, Jakub Vrana (F), Phillip Grubauer (G), Troy Brouwer (F) OR Tom Wilson (F), Jason Chimera (F, cap dump)
I would strongly consider this trade. Yes, we'd lose three, or possibly four, very good assets, but we have to spend big to get good assets, especially from a rebuilding team like Toronto. If this goes through, the Caps' forward lines would be:
This would be one of the deepest forward ranks in the East, one capable of carrying the Caps to a long playoff run. Add in a strong, balanced D-corps and one of the best goaltenders in the league, and the Caps could certainly make it, to the very least, the conference finals.
That trade is obviously a pipe dream, but the Caps would be one of the most balanced teams in the league for a few years, right in the prime of OV and Backstrom, whose window is closing quickly.
Now, I'm not necessarily advertising for that Van Riemsdyk trade, which would truly mean the Caps are all-in this year, but if the Caps are committed to bringing in a first-line RW, this would be a great deal.
Most likely, however, I think the Caps will stand pat after already bringing in Glencross and Gleason. Either way, we can only hope that the Caps will get back on track for the playoff push and beyond.