Sunday, April 27, 2008

Centers Of Attention

Word from The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson is that "[Ted] Leonsis and [George] McPhee would both like Sergei Fedorov back for another year, because he proved he could play and he was somebody Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin looked up to, almost in hero worship for Fedorov's three Stanley Cup rings in Detroit."

Interesting, but I doubt Fedorov is interested in being a third-liner, and the Caps already have their top two centers... or do they?

In a separate piece, Matheson notes that "the Devils need a first-line centre in the worst way after losing Scott Gomez and the Caps have Michael Nylander ($14 million over the next three years), but solidly No. 2 behind Nicklas Backstrom. Sounds like a perfect trade situation to me because the Caps then could try and re-sign centre Sergei Fedorov for another year at say, $2.5M."

As Spector notes, Nyls' "no movement" clause (aka his wife) makes any trade unlikely, as does the fact that the Caps really don't have any near-term first- or second-line pivots in the system who are taller than 5'8", so even if you believe that Fedorov can effectively center one of your top two lines for 82 games (I have my doubts) next year, what you've got after that is a nearly 40-year-old Fedorov and/or a gaping hole to be filled via free agency... which is exactly where the Caps were last summer. No thanks - I'll take my chances on a 37-year-old Nylander in 2009-10.

But how Fedorov might fit into the 2008-09 Caps' plans is obviously going to be interesting to watch. My guess is he's gone, but if he wanted to come back for a year at that $2M to get spot duty on the top two lines, kill penalties and help quarterback the power play, I'd welcome him back (hey, it ain't my money). Besides, if Sergei's responsible for unleashing Alex Semin's inner beast (and there's every reason to believe he is), he's a short-term investment that's well worth making.

Oh, and one last note on the Nylander-to-Jersey thought - Matheson concludes that "[i]f Dainius Zubrus wasn't making $4M in Jersey, he'd be a perfect return for Nylander because the Caps need better shutdown people." If only.


Tyler said...

Uh.... Matheson is so incoherent he makes TEB look Pulitzer-worthy.

Lisa said...

I've given up trying to divine the thoughts of 38 year-old Russian multimillionaires with nothing to prove.

That said, if Fedorov is the reason Semin played with some gumption over the last couple of months, sign him. I'd sit at games mid-season and wait for a Semin hat trick (goal, stupid penalty, fall down repeatedly) and just lament the situation. As you said, it's not our money so if Ted has to sink another 2-2.5M in Fedorov in order to make his nearly 5M investment in Semin pay off, so be it.

And you can imagine a scenario whereby Fedorov, at this stage in his career, signs for a reasonable price because he's enjoying himself and comfortable with the situation.

b.orr4 said...

If you never want another free agent to come to Washington, then by all means trade Nylander after a half season. I'm all for signing Feds but not to be the second line center. He could fit in quite nicely on the third line and playing on the PP and PK, but Nylander deserves a spot on the top two lines. Not to mention that Michael took less money and risked his personal reputation to sign with the Caps. It would be a back stab to trade a top UFA after one year and I'm sure McPhee knows. Nyls isn't going anywhere.

JP said...

I think we're all on the same page... nothing to see here, move along.

Mike in SF (currently in Bogota Colombia) said...

Fedorov plays every position, and injuries happen. And Boudreau likes to spread his scoring talent across 3 and even 4 lines. If the team signs Fedorov, he'll get plenty of minutes with good players.

As long as we're playing the wacky trade offer game, how about Miika Kiprusoff for Semin, Jurcina and a pick or a prospect? After reading the articles from Calgary the past week, it looks like the Flames would rather keep Mike Keenan than Miika Kiprusoff. I say we help them make that dream possible...

Shaggy said...

I think Feds was a luxury for the playoff run, bit over the course of an 82 game season, it is hard to, as lisa said, divine the best road to take here. But I don't think our o-ffense is worrisome.

What amazes me is that, like the Pens with Gonch, the Caps get by on Defense with a pretty steady no-name crew with one superstar offensive blueliner. Obviously signing Huet becomes the priority here.

~Mark said...

First, Nyls isn't going anywhere. Period. As for Feds being willing to be a 3rd line center, I can't see that being an issue. Fedorov has always been a team-first guy (note his playing defense in the prime of his career - and not balking). It's gonna come down to money, plain and simple. He knows he'd be playing with a team that will contend, he knows the style is offensive and open (which he likes), and he's clearly a leader on this team. I say odds are at least 50/50 to see him back, if not higher.

dmg said...

mike in SF/Columbia,

Even if Kiprusoff is available, I really don't think Semin is Keenan's type of player. Plus you run into the same iss b.orr4 pointed out - it's not going to look good to players who have signed Semin to an extension and then dealt him.

As for Fedorov, I think it's too early to tell. Make the more essential moves: re-signing Green, Morrisonn and Laich, figure something out in the goaltending situation and see how much that has cost. If the team can afford to go after a rugged defenseman and re-sign Fedorov, go for it. If not, it's not the end of the world and there as there are needs that are more important

tg said...

Let's change the thinking here, because people keep saying, "Is he willing to be a third line center?" But why don't we look at it this way: If he's willing to stay, would you be happy if the Caps were to have three scoring lines with Nylander, Fedorov and Backstrom as your centers?

Translation: Instead of thinking of it as two scoring lines, a checking line and a "crash and bang" line, why not have three scoring lines and a shutdown line? Or four lines that can do each (like Buffalo two years ago where you just keep rolling them out)?

Both Fedorov and Backstrom can play defense pretty decently. Steckel/Gordon are able to score. Would this be a viable situation? It would save wear and tear on Ovechkin, Semin and the other "scorers", and when you have three games in four nights you can sit Nylander or Federov and put someone else (Laich? Gordon? Kozlov?) in their place.

noonan said...

i think the big story here is that sergei fedorov needs to be here next year centering a third line with guys like laich and cooke, maybe fehr. i like any of those combos.
he doesnt need to be playing on a line with an alex, just on the same team. he will get plenty of time on special teams, and his minutes will be perfect for his age.
It would have been nice to have had a guy to step right in to the top six without missing a beat this year when nylander went out. god forbid that happens again, but it could.
not only that, nylander could have gotten his surgery sooner and could have been back for the run. just something to think about. you can never have too many centers.
If we want to compete for a cup, fedorov is exactly the kind of guy we need to keep. Just an example but look at pitt, they traded for a vet like roberts last year to make a push and they retained him becasue he added an element that they feel they need to get to the next level. dont get me wrong, id rather have feds than roberts, just an example. im not saying we should emulate shittsburgh either, cause i think were better.
bottom line, sign fedorov...and huet...and cooke. there, im done.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't anyone else find it interesting that for the first time since he defected, Sergei Federov is playing at the World Championships for Mother Russia, after being rejuvenated by his time with the Caps? Is it really a coincidence that he is on the same line as Ovechkin and Semin? Although nice, I don't believe having his brother on the team would have been enough incentive. Lots of good signs about his leanings, if not intentions.

JP said...

Great point.