Thursday, October 23, 2008

Caps Extend Erskine: Mo Than Meets The Eye?

Per Tarik, the Caps have signed John Erskine to a two-year extension that will keep him in D.C. (should they so decide) through the 2010-11 season. We can debate the wisdom of the signing, but first, let's take a look at what it means to the blueline corps in the medium-to-long-term.

To begin with, the Caps already have Mike Green and Tom Poti locked up for the next couple of years or more, so add Erskine and that's three NHL rearguards (insert joke here) under contract for the next two years.

Beyond that trio, the Caps obviously have high hopes for Karl Alzner, and have shown differing degrees of faith in 2004 draftees Jeff Schultz and Sami Lepisto. You'd expect all three to at least get a fair chance at a spot within the next two years (Schultz obviously already has one), and Tyler Sloan is currently getting an audition in The Show. Other prospects (John Carlson and Josh Godfrey, for example) are a little further off, time-wise.

Which brings us to Shaone Morrisonn and Milan Jurcina. It's pretty clear that this is a fish-or-cut-bait season for Juice, but I wouldn't be so sure that Mo has a spot sewn up yet. He's more than twice as expensive as Jurcina, and, frankly, still needs to prove that he's worth it. Yes, he's tough. Yes, he plays big minutes against top competition. And yes, he covers Mike Green's backside. But he's also just a couple of months removed from beating the team in arbitration (after a contentious hearing) and if the Caps had full confidence in him (there are indications that GMGM might not even consider him a top four guy), they'd have signed him to a long-term deal by now, no? I'm not saying they won't, I'm just saying they haven't.

The point is that the Caps look to carry seven defensemen for the foreseeable future, and with Erskine signing an extension, the number of spots up for grabs (barring a trade or a relatively cheap buyout) is reduced by one. You do the math and tell me who the odd man out is.

16 comments:

rananda said...

for next year, you have green, poti, schultz, and now ersknine as mult-year returnees and locks to be on the team (green and poti are too valuable to be traded, gmgm and boudreau love schultz, and erskine doesnt have much a market for his services).

incoming locks would have to be alzner and lepisto (they're both probably ready right now).

that leaves 1 spot at most (caps opened w 6 d right now) for morrison, jurcina, godfrey, carlson, and finley. i think it's very safe to say morrison is gone after this year (primarily due to his salary which will have to increase next year as well) and jurcina is in a very precarious situation as well.

i like having at least one defender who brings a little sandpaper, but i'd like him to be able to play top-4 minutes as well. i'm not sure this erskine signing makes any sense. i think it's a mistake to let morrison go, especially considering he brings something to the table that the caps' young d-men (alzner, lepisto, schultz) dont really have.

tg said...

OK, I'm going to throw something weird out there, but what if this is done with an eye to the salary cap? True, he's not making that much, but is it possible that the new contract helps lower the salary hit this season?

b.orr4 said...

At the next arbitration hearing, all GM has to do is run the tape of his pass to Iginla the other night. That should kill any chance of a raise.

RinkRaith said...

This is a small insurance policy (assuming it is a one way contract... which I think it has to be) at less than $600K/year with a not so subtle message to all of those D-men who will be battling for the remaing spots... "You better bring value for the money we are paying you because we have other less expensive options."

If Juice and Mo have a great 2009-2010 and Sammy and Karl do the same in Hershey and "during Call-ups" you try to pass Erskine through waivers (like Ben Clymer). If not, one gets traded or not re-signed and you have a tough guy back up to Brash, who is not getting any younger.

Chris said...

For a modest raise having a player with NHL experience in the system for injury call ups or a cheap scratch would make sense from the Caps point of view but beyond that I'm not seeing the wisdom in this deal, especially if Pothier is ready to play in 2009.

DMG said...

that leaves 1 spot at most (caps opened w 6 d right now) for morrison, jurcina, godfrey, carlson, and finley.

Neither Finley or Carlson has played a professional game yet. Neither of them is going to be breaking the NHL lineup in 09-10 and Carlson might not even sign until after next season. I have my doubts Godfrey will be ready by next year either.

wittcap79 said...

I just threw up a bit in my mouth...

Anonymous said...

So much Erskine hate, he has performed marginally better than last year. Good for Erskine he deserves it.

cw said...

Tarik posted that the extension is for $1.25 million in each of the next two seasons. Not cheap and a big raise, not a modest raise. I am not an Erskine fan and I just don't get giving a two-year extension for that much money. Why are they still settling for mediocre on defense? If it is a salary cap move, why give him that much?

HotDog88GT said...

I'm a big fan of Erskine and I'm glad he was extended by the Caps. Outside of Poti, the Caps have a very young defense and we fans tend to forget that.

The return of Pothier seems less and less likely as time goes by. I know he'll keep the long view in mind if and when he's cleared to play again. What I'd like to see is someone return the favor to Lucic sometime soon.

Hazardous said...

Erskine is not that good, I'll admit that much. But I think we have a lot worse on defense right now. Jurcina and Morrisonn are absolutely terrible. I see them both gone by next year(HOPE HOPE HOPE).

HotDog88GT said...

Mo and Jurcina are not horrible. I don't think the Caps have ANY horrible D men - a few are slow, maybe, but positioning, physicality and smarts are more important.

At the same time I wish BB would use them on the PP more, sending in bombs from the blue line. I don't like having OV at the point.

Hazardous said...

Jurcina IS, in fact, absolutely terrible. Every single time he's on the ice, he's lost. I will gladly take his job at league minimum just to get his goofy ass off the ice.

He constantly throws the puck in front of our own goalie. That's mites-level stuff. You simply don't do it, yet this guy is a PROFESSIONAL and still does it? Terrible. Absolutely terrible.

I'll let you argue Morissonn all you like, I don't care if you see what I see, but Jurcina is just unbearable.

Hazardous said...

Also, you don't see Jurcina on the point in the PP because he doesn't shoot. He has a shot, he just doesn't use it.

Hazardous said...

And how about that second goal that just happened in the phx game? Which 2 numbnuts were on the ice at the time of the goal? Which 2 played horrible defense to allow that goal?

Yeah. Thought so.

Josh said...

Yeah, but the goal was all on Mo, he lost track of the only guy in his viscinity and the only guy who could possibly score. That is totally inexcusable, just horrible. Juice was playing his man, Mo once again was watching the puck, that has always been his problem, and he just hasn't got any better about changing. I think he's stagnating and needs to move on. I'd love to keep him as a 3/4 dman, but I think Mo thinks he is more than that.