Monday, March 2, 2015

2015 Trade Deadline Recap and Analysis: Did the Caps do Enough?

The NHL Trade Deadline came and went a few hours ago, with the Caps standing pat after making a couple of moves in the days prior.

In case you don't know what trades the Caps made:
1. Washington: Tim Gleason (D)
    Carolina: Jack Hillen (D) + 2015 4th
2. Washington: Curtis Glencross (F)
    Calgary: 2015 2nd + 2015 3rd

The Caps also sent Aaron Volpatti and Cameron Schilling to Hershey, and did the same for Andre Burakovsky in a paper transaction for him to be eligible for the AHL playoffs. Even if Bura does not play in Hershey, which he likely will until he is recalled one final time, he probably will be scratched next game. Here is how the forwards should look next game:


Once Bura comes back, I predict the forwards will be as so:


There's still a lot than can be changed in the forwards thanks to the dearth of true top-line talent and a plethora of bottom-6/grinder players in the system. The Caps entered the trade deadline searching for either a first-line Right Wing or a second-line Center. They got neither, but one has to be reasonably pleased with the Caps' approach this year. There weren't many legitimate 1st liners available, so a significant overpayment would be needed to pry away a Jordan Eberle or JVR or even a Patrick Sharp. The center position was similarly shallow, with Antoine Vermette the premiere talent at the position. He cost a pretty penny at a first-rounder and a prospect, and when compared to Evgeny Kuznetsov, our current 2C, he is likely not worth the price:
Evgeny Kuznetsov HERO
Antoine Vermette HERO
As you can see, Vermette is just a slight upgrade, if any, despite having much more ice time, although he was on a team much worse than the Caps. He still definitely wasn't worth a first rounder in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.

The only trade made on offense was to bring in Curtis Glencross from Calgary. Glencross has fallen hard this year as compared to the years past, with just 28 points in 53 games this year after 24 in 38 last year. However, his underlying stats are relatively solid for a middle-6 winger despite the fact that he played on the third-worst Corsi and Fenwick team in Calgary this year:
Curtis Glencross HERO
Glencross should bring veteran experience to the left-side of the Caps lineup as well as better scoring depth for the playoffs. For second and third round picks, there may have been a better option on the market, but with all of the overpayments this year at the deadline, this was a great pickup for the Caps.

The upgrade on defense was also a good deal for the Caps, with Tim Gleason taking Jack Hillen's spot:
Tim Gleason HERO

Jack Hillen HERO
At first glance, Gleason looks like a much worse option than Hillen. However, much of this can be chalked up to Gleason's increased ice time as compared to Hillen (16:39 vs. 12.22). In fact, all of the stat comparisons in the HERO chart can be attributed to ice time. If you look at Corsi, Fenwick, and PDO without accommodations for ice time:

Player        TOI/GP             Corsi               Fenwick                PDO
Jack Hillen 12.22 -40 -32 1011
Tim Gleason 16.39 -32 -29 954

Despite playing more minutes on a team with only a marginally better Corsi and Fenwick than the Caps, Gleason actually had better Corsi and Fenwick scores than Hillen. Additionally, Gleason had a much, much lower PDO (shooting percentage + save percentage while on ice), signifying that his numbers are bound to bounce back whereas Hillen is undoubtedly going to regress. In fact, in Carolina's last game (Hillen's debut, a win) Hillen had a PDO of just 948. 

Even the eye test supports that Gleason is better suited on the Caps D than Hillen. Gleason is a stay-at-home defenseman, a steady presence who will allow Mike Green to jump up into the play when he feels like. Hillen wasn't suited for that job and may have been holding Green back. Gleason looked solid against Toronto yesterday, much better than Hillen has for a while.

Overall, the D-corps is one of the deepest the Caps have had since OV joined the team in 2005. With Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov progressing on their return from injury there is depth beyond Gleason which will serve well for the Caps come playoff time.

In the end, this was a solid trade deadline for the Caps. By bolstering their depth on both offense and defense, the Caps have primed themselves for a deep playoff run without mortgaging the future like teams such as Chicago and the New York Rangers did. With increased secondary scoring, more spectacular play from OV, Backstrom and Holtby, and a solid defensive unit, the Caps look ready to embark on their first playoff run since 2013.

***All HERO charts courtesy of***
***All Advanced Stats courtesy of***

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