Good morning and welcome to the Dart 4-Pack of Fan Questions, where we provide answers to your most pressing questions regarding the Washington Capitals. Every week through the remainder of the regular season we’ll select four questions and do our best to “keep it real” with our answers.
Let’s get started:
What are the chances the Caps contend next yr without a legit #2 center like Ribeiro? – Andy Green on Twitter
First things first, Andy. Even though Ribeiro reportedly turned down a three-year contract worth a reported $14 million it doesn’t mean he won’t be coming back next season. As we’ve been saying all week, Caps GM George McPhee has a tough decision on his hands. Does he keep Ribeiro and continue his attempts to sign him? Or does he trade him before the April 3 deadline for a draft pick and a prospect? For the sake of argument, let’s say McPhee trades Ribeiro. Your concerns are legitimate, Andy, because the Caps don’t have another center in the organization with the skill set of Ribeiro. Philip Forsberg and Tom Wilson will make a push for roster spots next season but both are right wingers. The big question is where Evgeny Kuznetsov fits in and when he’ll arrive. Many scouts project him as a left winger and not a center and he’s already told the Capitals he won’t play in D.C. until after the 2014 Olympics. So, under the assumption Ribeiro is gone, the Caps’ depth chart at center would be Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Laich, Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle.
We took the liberty to tweak the question a little, but if you’re a fan of the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and/or Jarome Iginla, Feaster is not your favorite executive right now. Feaster won a Stanley Cup in Tampa in 2004 but he’s had trouble turning the Flames around since arriving in Calgary in 2010. When it became clear the Flames would miss the playoffs for the third straight season Feaster conducted a bidding war for Iginla, who listed the Penguins, Bruins, Kings and Blackhawks as the four teams to whom he would accept a trade. Feaster tried to make the best deal for his team and thought he had one with the Bruins, who offered a first-round pick and two prospects for Iginla. But when Iginla learned the Pens also had a deal on the table he forced Feaster’s hand and went to the Penguins for their first-round pick and the rights to two prospects. That’s why Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli felt like he was left at the altar and Bruins fans felt jilted as well. Not sure if that qualifies Feaster as a bad GM but you can bet he’ll be active before the deadline, possibly moving defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and possibly shopping for a goaltender to replace Miikka Kiprusoff, who is not expected to play next season.
Interesting that you mention Marcus Johansson and Michal Neuvirth as tradeable commodities. Both are in the final year of their contracts and will be restricted free agents after this season. Johansson looked lost early this season and when the club announced he had a concussion we knew why. Shero has been a different player since returning to the lineup, recording eight points in his last seven games. He’s also just 22. I think the Caps are willing to stick with Johansson and if they are satisfied with his play down the stretch they’ll re-sign him. We talked with Neuvirth on Thursday and he’s not at all enthused with playing in just 10 games so far this season. The Caps would need to get a veteran goalie in return for Neuvirth, so trading him after the season makes more sense than trading him before the deadline. At 25 Neuvirth wants to be a starter and as long as Braden Holtby continues his strong play, it doesn’t look like it will be in Washington. Ironically, the Flames might have an interest in Neuvirth but it would be a risky move for the Caps, who do not have a veteran goalie in their system.
Should the Caps have gone after Iginla? – Chauncy Blonchonski on Twitter
Hey Chauncy. The Caps still have slightly more than $7 million under their salary cap so they could have fit Iginla’s $7 million salary. But the Caps were not on Iginla’s list of teams and it really came down to the fact he wanted to play in Pittsburgh. If the Caps have an area they’d like to strengthen it’s probably on the left wing, where they could use a proven scorer for one of their top two lines. There’s just not much of a market out there. I think the Caps’ trading strategy centers around Mike Ribeiro. If they know they cannot sign him, do they keep him through the remainder of the season? Or do they trade him for players they can develop? It’s a tough call, but I’d keep Ribeiro and see what this team can do down the stretch.