A year ago, George McPhee was a buyer before the NHL trade deadline, adding forward Jason Arnott and defenseman Dennis Wideman to a team everyone saw as a Stanley Cup contender.
This year, its hard to determine whether the Capitals general manager will be a buyer or a seller. With Mondays 3 p.m. deadline fast approaching and his team perilously close to missing the playoffs, McPhee must decide whether he should begin shedding players from his underachieving roster.
Its unfamiliar territory for this team, said Capitals right wing Joel Ward, who signed a four-year, 12 million contract with the Capitals last summer. For me, it isnt really what I expected when I came here. If we stick to our game plan, well be fine.
If McPhee is convinced its time to retool, hes got a few veterans (right wings Alex Semin and Mike Knuble and defensemen Roman Hamrlik and Wideman) who might draw interest. Or he could keep what he has and deal one of the teams two first-round draft picks to add a missing piece.
Were all Capitals right now, and we all expect to stay Capitals, right wing Troy Brouwer said. Thats all you can do. If something happens, something happens, but you have to worry about where you are and worry about the present. Its business as usual.
One player that has drawn incredible interest in the past 24 hours is Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown, who could be the odd-man out now that the Kings have added Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Brown has 14 goals this season and routinely is among the top five NHL players in hits.
Hes a physical player, hes got some good skill and he works real hard, Brouwer said of Brown. Hes tough to play against, and if he is on the move, that will be a good acquisition for someone.
Brouwer said NHL players get as excited about the NHL trade deadline as fans, but Brooks Laich said he stays completely out of the roster decisions of McPhee.
Im a player, man, Laich said. I dont have anything to do with that.