Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Bears, Old Bears...and my opinion on the Caps and Ribeiro

Tomas Kundratek and Dmitry Orlov were re-assigned to Hershey yesterday.  I am guessing that means Kundratek is healthy and ready to play, but he has missed games in Washington recently due to injury and I am not certain on his status.

It helps the Bears immensely as they shipped defenseman Garret Stafford to Oklahoma City for left wing Dane Byers earlier last night.

At first glance (if you don't or didn't know who Dane Byers is) was that maybe this was a move to get under the veteran limit and not have the difficult decision of which veteran to sit each night.  But it isn't.  Byers is also an AHL veteran and has served as team captain multiple times in his career.

No, this was strictly a move to improve the Bears toughness and grit. 
“It's clearly a thing of trying to add a quality that we think we need to win.”
That was Mark French's comment on the Stafford trade.  The team obviously feels like they aren't playing physically enough and in order to get tougher they traded a solid defenseman.

Further proof that I wasn't entirely off base on Monday with my post...

The Bears/Caps traded Matt Clackson to Phoenix for Joel Rechlicz.  Obviously I don't have to tell you much about Joel, but he isn't here to help in the goal scoring department.

In Clackson's defense...the team didn't really give him the chance to truly succeed in Hershey.  He dressed in only 19 games so far this year, including just 2 of the last 22.  It's kind of hard to really get and stay in game shape, both physically and mentally, when you are playing so infrequently.

In the Bear's defense...even when he dressed he didn't seem to fill the role they were looking for.  He just didn't seem to have the 'edge' to his game that everyone expected.  I really expected more of a physical player that was willing to drop the gloves whenever given the chance.  But I don't think that was the case this season. 

Overall, I like the moves.  The Bears needed to get more physical and adding these guys will do that.  BUT, I don't see Byers getting into a ton of games unless he starts scoring.  Who do you sit instead...Kane? Taffe, DiSalvatore, Crabb, Potulny? 

I am sure Byers will get his chances early on.  This is a guy that has scored 20+ goals in multiple AHL seasons so the potential is there. 

As for Joel...he brings an energy to the team and game when he is playing.  He will get his chances, but he will also be little more than a cheerleader come the 3rd period of games.  Same as last year.  He is a good guy, a great teammate (based on things I read), and obviously a energizing presence, but his skill set is limited.  I welcome him back to the roster and hope that he can breathe some life into this roster.

NHL Trade Deadline:

The big debate, which probably isn't much of one anymore considering their recent success, in Washington the past week has you trade Mike Ribeiro.  Since my opinion is never requested, I just figured I would offer it.

Personally I agree with this view from RMNB.

I think the Caps should be sellers at today's NHL trade deadline.

Why?  Because your goal at the beginning of each season is not to just make the playoffs.  Your goal, every season, should be to win a championship. 

The Capitals, as they are built right now, don't seem capable of doing that.  There is obviously something to be said for just getting a chance and possibly getting hot and making a run, but considering the teams at the top of the conference, it seems unlikely that the Caps will be able to win 16 games after the regular season ends.

Ribeiro is 33.  He is having a career year point-per-game wise (only 1 other time in his career did he average a point-per-game like he is this year) and his other measurables (faceoff wins and puck possession time) are lacking. 

He has made it clear that he wants a 5 year deal.  Surely at about $6 million a year.  That means you would be paying a 38 year old center $6 million in a few years.

Simply put...that would be a mistake.

And if they don't trade him and don't resign him, then they are getting nothing for him. 

I understand that the organization has been looking for a 2nd line center for a while, I get that.  But do you really think there is only one guy that can fill that role?  Evgeni Kuznetsov is expected in Washington sometime next season and is expected to play center.  I am willing to bet that he can win as many faceoffs as Ribeiro and while he will likely take a year or 2 to adjust to the NHL game, he will surely be better (or at least as good as) Ribeiro shortly.

Ribeiro has huge value right now.  Sometimes you have to plan for the future and make a move that sets you up better for the future for a negative now.

I won't pretend to know what some team will pay for Ribeiro, but seems like a high pick and a couple of prospects would be a good starting point.  There has to be a team out there willing to give up a lot for a player playing to Ribeiro's caliber right now.

Trade Ribeiro, replenish your farm system (weak right now, let's be honest) with picks and prospects and address the 2nd line center role through free agency this summer.  Surely they can find a stop-gap player to fill the role for a season until Kuzentsov is ready to go. 

Hell, I think you trade Mike Green too.  And Jeff Schultz...if you can get anyone to take him.  And maybe even Neuvirth. 

Time to fix the problem you created by selling prospects and picks for fringe players at past deadlines and look towards the next few seasons, instead of a possible playoff berth this spring.

I fully expect the Caps to stand pat at the deadline and try and make the playoffs.  If they go that route...I hope they make the playoffs and I hope they make a run to the Cup finals.  But that won't change my opinion.

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