The NHL Trade Deadline passed and the Washington Capitals have the same exact roster as they did twenty-four hours ago. Not a single change. Let's admit it --- that fact is quite stunning. Capitals GM George McPhee has had a recent history, particularly with the Caps sitting atop the Eastern Conference, of making moves that, on perception at least, were meant to solidify certain positions. Yet, this season, sitting on the cusp of barely making the Stanley Cup playoffs, McPhee walks out of the deadline with nil . . . nada . . .nothing.
In his defense, McPhee provided plausible explanation for the inaction of the Capitals. “Everyone wants action, everyone wants deals, but you get in there and you see nothing but feathers." “I just didn’t see anything that makes us better.” Nothing better than what the front office believed they could bring up from Hershey. — “I think we've been doing this long enough that [the fan base will] understand if there was something to do, we would have done it. ... Sometimes no deal is better than a bad deal.”“Everybody wanted to add and there was no one selling.” You could even look around the NHL for support of McPhee's explanation. You will not find many hockey fans out there that were pleased with the relative light activity of the NHL trade deadline. In fact, only the Nashville Predators made real significant moves. Tampa Bay and Boston can be seen as grabbing a few reinforcements. But, overall, pretty boring and dry. When was the last trade deadline you can remember where at least one of the Capitals, Flyers, Penguins, or Rangers failed to make any transaction? So yes, you can certainly buy the McPhee argument.
On the flip side, if it indeed was a buyers market, one could easily argue that the Capitals failed to get any value for Tomas Vokoun, Roman Hamrlik, and Alexander Semin. Will any of those three be Washington Capitals next season? Not likely. Possibly Semin. So why not get value for one or all of them? Sure, the counter-argument is that trading those guys would hurt the Caps playoff chances. Is that reality though? I kind of liked the idea of riding the final stretch out with Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby. Is Roman Hamrlik really going to make or break the Caps playoff chances? What about moving John Erskine or Jeff Schultz? Moving Schultz would have been a blow to playoff chances? Ummm, not.
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