Whenever you assemble the Capitals’ potential forward lines for the 2014-15 season, even when you move Alex Ovechkin from right wing to left wing, you seem to come up a little short on the left side.
Can Brooks Laich play there? Yes, but he’s a natural center.
Marcus Johansson? Yes, but he’s also a natural center.
Andre Burakovsky? He can play both wings, but the Caps would like to see how he handles the center position.
Evgeny Kuznetsov? Yes, but he played right wing throughout most of his career in the KHL and the Caps are looking to try him at center as well.
In fact, the only natural left wings on the Caps’ projected roster are Jason Chimera, who appears to be cemented on the third line, and Aaron Volpatti, who saw limited action last season and could be a depth player next season.
Which brings us to Dan Carcillo, a rambunctious left wing that everyone but his teammates loves to hate.
Carcillo, 29, remains unsigned as a free agent. He made $850,000 as a member of the Kings and Rangers last season, recording four goals, one assist and 100 penalty minutes in 57 games.
He has also been to the Stanley Cup Final in three of his last five seasons, winning the Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013 and falling short with the Flyers in 2010 and the Rangers in 2014.
The Caps have roughly $1.1 million in cap space and although they have 49 players under contract, only 45 of them are likely to count against the NHL’s 50-man limit because Madison Bowey, Jakub Vrana and Vitek Vanecek are expected to return to their teams in Kelowna, Sweden and the CzechRepublic, respectively.
That means the Caps have roster room and salary space for a player who could give them the “bite” new coach Barry Trotz would like to have on his fourth line.
Don’t be mistaken. Carcillo comes with his fair share of controversy. Nicknamed “Carbomb” by his teammates in Philadelphia, Carcillo has been suspended seven times in his eight-year NHL career, including a 10-game ban that was reduced to six after he made physical contact with linesman Scott Driscoll during the Eastern Conference finals.
However, what may have been lost in Carcillo’s suspension is what led to the altercation with Driscoll.
Minutes earlier, Rangers center Derek Stepan had his jaw broken on a hard hit by Canadians winger [and former Ranger] Brandon Prust. On his next shift Carcillo answered by ramming Prust into the boards for a charging penalty.
When Prust dropped his gloves with Rangers forward Derek Dorsett, Carcillo wanted a piece of the action and was forcibly removed by Driscoll, who was caught in the chin by an elbow from Carcillo.
It was clearly a case of Carcillo sticking up for his teammates, something he has done throughout his career, although sometimes overzealously. Falling under the category of a player you hate to play against but would love to have as a teammate, Carcillo was very well liked in the Rangers locker room.
“He’s been a great teammate,” former Rangers center Brad Richards, now a Blackhawk, said at the time of the incident. “Heard a lot about him before and don't have one bad thing to say about him as a teammate since he's been here.”
Carcillo’s agent, Kevin Epp, did not return messages left for him on Friday, so it’s hard to gauge the Caps’ interest, if any, in Carcillo.