Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thoughts on trade deadline day

I'm a little late to the party in talking about the Caps trade deadline moves, but I also wanted to see the guys in action with their new team before I was able to make a decision about how the moves affect the team.  So let's break them down by person.

Walker fighting former Cap Chris Clark (photo by AP)

Scott Walker

I'm going to be honest, I had no idea who this was.  Until a loyal Bruins fan reminded me of this incident from last year's playoffs.  I instantly remembered.

The funny part is that Ward and Walker were teammates on the Carolina Hurricanes this season until the deadline (Ward was traded to the Anaheim Ducks).

My first impression was that Walker gets points for being so excited about coming to Washington.  Seriously.  Adorable.

Scott Walker came here for a 7th round draft pick, which is practically nothing.  He's not really known for his offensive prowess - he came to the Caps with three goals on the season and is described as being a gritty grinder on the 4th line.  In fact, prior to the 1996-97 season (when he was with the Vancouver Canucks) he was a defenseman, which might explain his tough style and focus on backchecking.  The 5'10" winger has said he actually modeled his game after Caps General Manager George McPhee's style of play:  
After checking out some of McPhee's game film and fights from his six-year NHL career, Walker thought, "maybe you don't have to be 6-foot-2 to make it."
Walker scored two goals in his first game as a Capital on March 4, leading the Caps to a 5-4 victory over Tampa Bay.  Keep in mind that in the entire season in Carolina, he'd scored three goals total.  This season.

Verdict: thumbs up

photo by Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images

Éric Bélanger

Another guy I didn't know.  This time because he's on a Western Conference team that the Caps play very little.  Not to be confused with the male model of the same name, Belanger's a 6' centerman who ranks 8th in the league on faceoff percentage with 57.4% (David Steckel is 2nd with 60.2%).  He came to us from the Minnesota Wild, where he had 13 goals and 22 assists this season.  Just after the draft, he was quoted as saying he uses his speed to his advantage in his play, and this description immediately put Jason Chimera into my mind.  Chimera's been a fantastic pickup for the Caps, so I was looking forward to his play.  

Last night, it really solidified for me how well Semin, Belanger, and Laich play together on a line.  Saturday night versus the Rangers, Belanger scored his first goal as a Capital, having been set up for the shot by Semin and Laich.  Last night against the Stars, the trio again were setting up fantastic plays - all three are gifted passers and are great with positioning.  The new second line could be the line to beat going into the post-season.  Plus, José Théodore's gotta like the addition of another Québécois to the lineup.

Verdict: thumbs up

photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Joe Corvo

I was a little iffy about this one.  I certainly knew him by name, but never saw anything too magnificent about his play.  This one was also tough on me as I was a big Brian Pothier fan and was upset to see him leave.  However, I know it's supposed to be about the team, so let's move on.

Corvo has missed a lot of games for Carolina this season, having recently returned to the ice after Karl Alzner's skate accidentally severed his Achilles tendon during a game against the Caps on November 30 (interesting side note: he, along with Ovechkin and Morrison, now wears a Kevlar sock to protect against such injuries).  However, in his career with Carolina, he's been known as a power play specialist, often holding up the blue line on the man advantage.  He's enough of an offensive force to pick up some of Mike Green's mind-boggling amount of TOI.  And he's spent enough years in the NHL (8) to avoid mistakes in his play.

He didn't have a great game last night, but he recorded an assist on the Fehr goal on Saturday night, and had a great first home game last week.  Corvo and current D partner Tom Poti seem to have great chemistry - cycling the puck with ease and making smart defensive plays.  Douchey tattoos and assault arrests aside, he's matured and the Coach has confidence in him.  We'll give him a shot.

Verdict: thumbs up

photo by Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

Milan Jurcina

Sigh.  This idiot again.  Well, we all know who he is and how he plays (read: badly).  And he's out for 6-8 weeks with a sports hernia that is getting operated on Thursday.  At least I won't have to be dealing with screaming at him via my TV until then.

Verdict: thumbs down

1 comment:

Anna said...

Well, Jurcina is only under contract for the rest of the season. So I guess we'll see...