Monday, February 28, 2011

Caps Make a Splash in the Trade Pool

The calculating GMGM should be relaxing in a leather recliner enjoying a cold adult beverage of choice right now after a long day at the office. George McPhee was hard at work making several key trades at today's deadline to fill in the missing pieces on the Caps' roster. As our Eastern Conference rivals the Bruins, Flyers and the Penguins, bolstered their benches in early trading, GMGM waited until the waning minutes to pick up veteran center Jason Arnott.

The beauty of today's actions on the part of GMGM is that he didn't give away the farm (literally, considering all the talent the team has housed in Hershey) and only traded one roster player (popular face off guru David Steckel). Yet he still made the moves he felt necessary to take the boys deep into the Cup race by plugging the second-line center hole and adding another defense man in the form of former Bruin and Panther Dennis Wideman.

While Tom Poti is still on the injured list, Mike Green's head injury may keep him out of action for longer than was initially thought. Thus the pick up of Dennis Wideman (who played in Boston with another new Capital, Marco Sturm), provides some added insurance on the blue line and will hopefully help resuscitate the ailing power play. Wideman was brought in as part of a trade that sends prospect Jake Hauswirth and a third round draft pick to the Sunshine State. Wideman, 27, is a seven-year NHL veteran who has played for the St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins and the Panthers. The 6’, 200-pound defenseman has appeared in 439 career NHL games, recording 55 goals, 143 assists and 325 penalty minutes. This season, he has 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists) and 33 penalty minutes while playing in 61 games for the Panthers.

Wideman, who will wear No. 6 with the Capitals, set career highs in assists (37), points (50) and tied his career-high in goals (13) during the 2008-09 campaign with the Bruins. He also registered a career-high +32 rating and helped lead Boston to first overall in the Eastern Conference.

Of course the other big news of the day was the addition of veteran center Jason Arnott from the New Jersey Devils. The bad news is that the team had to part with fan fave David Steckel as part of this deal (in addition to a second round pick in 2012). Arnott, who is in the twilight of his career, brings veteran leadership and lots of playoff experience to a young Capitals team. This big guy (6’5’’, 220-pounds) is a 19-year league vet with 1,161 career NHL games under his belt. He's recorded 369 goals, 501 assists and 1,208 penalty minutes during regular season games throughout his career. In addition, he has collected 66 points (30 goals, 36 assists) and 74 penalty minutes in 106 career playoff games. A two-time NHL All-Star (1997, 2008), he won the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2000, scoring the game-winning goal in the second overtime period. This season, Arnott has 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) and 32 penalty minutes while playing in 62 games for the injury-depleted Devils.

I for one can't wait to see the newest additions hit the ice tomorrow against the Islanders and am hoping these moves bring the consistency and energy this team has been lacking thus far this season. Welcome to Washington boys!

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