Wednesday, February 28, 2007

After a Long While Off, the JET is Back and Looking at the Trade Deadline Deals!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! No not Christmas! Trade Deadline Day! And the JET spent it watching the live TSN newscast of the many trades and signings that came about. While there were certainly big trades of high profile players being sent to contenders, all the JET cares about is who got dealt to and fro the Caps. So without further ado...

Trade #1: Richard Zednik to NYI for 2nd round Draft Pick
Now this year, the JET is not a big fan of trading for picks, especially because this draft is rumored to be one of the weakest in recent memory. Second round picks are usually fringe NHL talent and the Isle's pick figures to be around a mid-rounder (so somewhere in the late 40s-early 50s). Whoever the Caps use this pick on will, in all likelihood, not be a player who can step in immediately and probably won't be close to the NHL within 3 years (if ever).
That said, Zednik is a UFA who the Caps couldn't resign. He's been nagged with injury problems and has been inconsistent in scoring. I knew once the Caps traded for him in the offseason that he wouldn't be more than a secondary scoring threat who the Caps would try to use to get some more young assets later in the season. Most people thought Zednik would get traded for the 3rd round draft pick the Caps had previously sent to Montreal. But instead, George McPhee pulled off a 2nd rounder for Zednik. Big ups to McPhee who once again traded a player for a much higher draft pick than he was worth (see Witt for Beech and 1st rounder).

Overall Grade: B

Trade #2: Lawrence Nycholat to OTT for Andy Hedlund, 6th round pick
This is an even trade, in every sense. It's literally, one minor league defenseman for another. The only difference is the 6th round pick coming the Caps way which can be disregarded since even in very strong drafts (which I mentioned, this is not) there are not many NHL players or top AHL players that are drafted in the 6th round.
There is no TSN scouting report on Hedlund, so there is nothing to expect from him. All in all, this trade was probably made to allow the Caps to move Helbling with Zubrus to Buffalo. If you don't hear of Hedlund for a couple of years (unless you live in Hershey) I wouldn't be surprised.

Trade #3: Dainus Zubrus, Timo Helbling to BUF for Jiri Novotny, 1st round pick
Losing Zubrus, to many Caps faithful, means losing a critical part of our team: the first line center. The only problem is that Zubrus is, by nature, a right wing! This trade makes sense and is, dare I say brilliant, for a number of reasons:
1) The loss of Zubrus will force management to go out and acquire a legitimate 1st line center. Seeing this team lose faceoff after faceoff, while watching Ovechkin skate around with no one to pass to him will, hopefully, show them the light to trade for or sign a top line center man and pay him the money he needs. Simply bringing back Zuby or saying that Nicklas Backstrom won't cut it either George. This team is weak down the middle and Zubrus was merely keeping our front line from looking pathetic. If he's brought back, it should be as a right wing (we're also pretty weak at that position). Backstrom, right now, is an AHLer in my mind. Maybe he can step in and be the 2nd line center, or maybe not. As of right now, there are two glaring holes in the middle of the ice.
2) We might just be getting something for nothing. I heard the reports on XM radio that Zubrus may be coming back to DC in the offseason and, quite frankly, I think that's the case. Once I heard he was traded to Buffalo, I rejoiced because I knew that the Sabres don't have the cap room to sign more than 1 center. That means Zubrus will be on the market again this summer and I'm sure he'd be willing to come back here to play with his buddy Ovechkin.
3) I feel that Zubrus' value has been inflated by playing with Ovechkin. He's had record years when he's played on the same line with Ovechkin, as has Chris Clark. A few years ago, no way Zubrus would be worth this much, so we're getting more than he's worth.
Another element is that Zubrus was asking for $3 million per year for 5 years. Zubrus may be overvalued, but he's not worth that much. I think McPhee recognizes that and also realizes that Zuby will only be on the 2nd or 3rd line in Buffalo. I believe his production will taper off in Buffalo and so, when he becomes a free agent, he'll be worth LESS than he is now. Therefore, the Caps might just be able to resign Zubrus in July for around $2-2.5 million a year (a salary range he should be in) because other teams will be offering him less after seeing just how dependent he is on Ovechkin's offense.
The only downside to this deal is what we got in return. I did say Zubrus was overvalued, and I do think we got more in return than we gave up in the first round draft pick, but I don't think Nvotony was the right guy in return. George McPhee described him as a "third line center" and TSN's analysis agrees. A third line center is the LAST thing we need. Along with Beech, Sutherby, Laich, and Gordon, this team would win the "third line of the year awards." McPhee should have either thrown in another defenseman (perhaps Eminger or Clymer) or relented on the 1st round pick for a 2nd or 3rd (since this a weak draft and that late 1st round pick is essentially equal to a mid-second in another year's draft) and gotten a young defenseman or forward. Among those McPhee could have swiped for Zubrus (in my opinion):
- Dmitri Kalinin
- Ales Kotalik
- Derek Roy
- Jochen Hecht
So while I don't feel that it was a BAD trade, it wasn't the BEST trade that could have been made.

Overall Grade: C

Trade #4: Jamie Heward to LAK for 5th Round Pick
This is just getting the most bang for your buck here. Jamie Heward was going to be a UFA this summer and is clearly the least valuable player to this rebuild. It hurts me to say this, but the 5th round pick from LA was probably the best offer out there. It just pains me that Muir didn't get shipped out as well.

Overall Grade: C+

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