The Capitals just signed deals to bring in on short term Gudas and Haglin. WTF. Seriously, Caps killers from arch rival Philadelpha and Rangers (with a Penguins connection)
Ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little. And, yet, I find myself writing responses like these to people regarding the signings, that, given any other circumstance I’d bash my cranium against the curb for:
Gudas is good. Like middle pairing, tilts the ice because he suppresses shots like a master of rarely giving up high danger scoring chances good, makes his team mates (especially forwards) better for his contributions in the neutral and defensive zone good. Like, his general physicality is frightening to others with how hard he hits when he needs to, how often he does despite his generally good positioning and how much he allow the rest of the players around them to do their thing at the threat thereof both in standing up on the blue line and clearing the crease to push play out of the dangerous areas.
I know, I know, he’s a goon. I readily admit he is. Gudas has had some rage-anger Hunter-meets-Simon type of moments that continue to be marks on the Caps past, and he’s not Wilson in that you can argue Wilson’s hits are hockey plays gone awray because size and speed play to his disadvantage and the timing was questionable. That’s a biiiiiig pill to swallow. Especially on a Caps team that has some big, emotional personalities. But, it’s also a Caps team where Ovi has learned to be smart with his body. Wilson is learning to be smart with his body. If Orpik sticks around in some way he can pass that along too. Ward learned. DSP was good during his time. Reclamation projects are a part of recent Caps successes.
Gudas is going to get prime assignments that should both suppress his need to have rage-anger outbreaks because he’ll be picking up probably at worst third pairing minutes as a RHD which pits him against less aggravating top forwards (that might trigger him) along with an LHD that is a better puck mover than what he’s been with pushing toward what should be better forwards in the Caps bottom-six, which will maintain the zone taking some of the stress off him
Furthermore, he will eat up a lot of PK to take the burden off some of the other D already secured with man-up time (something Niskinen was doing a bit of both of, whom he’s replacing, for example) while still providing him with minutes he’ll be accustomed to and the challenges that he’s seem to excel in.
We’re not going to know Gudas true worth till we see how he actually slots in once we evaluate Kempny post injury and Jensen after a camp and preseason to become acclimated but it’s really not hard to imagine Gudas-Djoos being pretty complimentary to Carlson-Kempny and Orlov-Jensen with Stiggy as the 7th-D as a starting point. It’s certainly one of the better cost controlled-to-expected reliability D’s in the league.
Furthermore, I don’t see the problem, at all, with the possibility of having Haglin around in general. I was not someone advocating getting him at the trade deadline because his boxcars have fallen off the cliff and I was not advocating keeping him around now either for the same reason. But, that contract is not bad, even if you are looking at Haglin as a reclaimation project in terms of his boxcars as a best case scenario or a worst case scenario of a 4th liner veteran PKer.
We have no idea what he’ll actually look like for a full year next year, forget about a few years from now but, based on the going rates on the market for similar players its a) not that bad of an AVV, maybe a quarter million overpay, which in the grand scheme isn’t much leading to b) not enough of an AVV to deter the Caps from probably signing anyone they need this year, or probably next, it’s impossible to look further because there’s just not enough info available and too many moving pieces to make the conjecture c) it’s a very movable contract especially the way the cash is structured in it d) it can be used for the seattle expansion, which can help protect other players e) as long as he performs generally around-value on this contact he’s the kind of player that’s always in-demand, even if he’s only part of an outgoing package. f) GMBM and the Caps mgt have been pretty smart at identifying players of need and then jettisoning contacts as necessary so far, it’s hard to think this would be the example of failure to do so for them (while I’m sure it will happen at some point, we’ll see what it is if it occurs)
Generally 4th liners come cheaper unless you’re the Islanders overpaying for the Best Forth Line in Hockey. Hags isn’t going to slot in on the 4th now and we can’t know how his cap hit is going to look comparatively in four years if he does sink to a 4th liner’s skill set.
For a third liner, if his boxcars are in line with what he did during his post-deadline time with the Caps are his real value and not a flash in the pan, he’s probably in line. If not, it winds up being an overpay, but again, by how much really? Dunno, have to see how bad he might actually end up sucking.
Young doesn’t mean better. There’s lots of aspects of hockey that age is superior to youth, some of which, Haglin supposedly brings to the table. With someone like Hags, who as a tri-stater I had to watch a lot in a Rangers uni, he does things that even if his boxcars aren’t there he’s still contributing. If you are going in knowing he’s not going to be an offensive juggernaut but his style of play is going to mesh well with where you need him in the lineup the lack of boxcars becomes much more palatable. I mean, I’m much more willing to submit to Haglin’s stone hands at this salary figuring maybe he’ll age like Jason Chimera did in a Caps uni than whatever the heck it is that Burakovsky has been doing with his lack of scoring prowess for the last few years at his salary.
The way I see it, some of this is about filling specific, unique needs to the Caps, in their current system, for the short window of the current Backy/Ovi contracts. If Hags slots in the third line, he’s the grinder of that line, the same role that we have come to expect out of Wilson on the top line now, Oshie before him now on the second line. Which means, we’re looking for a third line trigger man on the opposite side. Hags is very experienced on the PK which means he can take weight off of needing Backy and Oshie there as well which the Caps very much will need since you don’t want top-flight aging talent blocking shots and making hits any more often than they absolutely have to.
For the youth movement, I don’t know if you remember the Caps Young Guns era well or not, but I remember looking at those lineups complaining that the team was too inexperienced both in age and in the kinds of skills the few veterans they did possess were actually bringing to the table, the more recent teams under GMBM have had much better balance and it’s shown in the consistency of the way they are winning now. I pulled this roster from around 2011. It’s young and very, very Caps system centric…
Marcus Johannson – F, 20 years old, 2009 Caps 1st round pick, 69 games in 1 years
John Carlson – D, 21 years old, 2008 Caps 1st round pick, 104 pro games in 2 years
Bradon Holtby – G 21 years old, 2008 Caps 4th round pick, 14 pro games in 1 years
Karl Azner – D, 22 years old, 2007 Caps 1st round pick, 133 pro games in 3 years
A- Nick Backstrom – F, 23 years old, 2006 Caps 1st round pick, 323 pro games in 4 years
Michal Nuevirth – G, 23 years old, 2006 Caps 2nd round pick, 70 pro games in 3 years
Seymon Varlamov – G, 23 years old 2006 Caps 1st round pick, 59 pro games in 3 years
Mathieu Perrault – F, 23 years old, 2006 Caps 6th round pick, 56 pro games in 2 years
Patrick McNeil – D, 24 years old, 2005 Caps 4th round pick, under 5 pro games in rookie year
Alex Ovechkin – F, 25 years old, 2004 Caps 1st round pick, 475 pro games in 6 yeas
Jeff Schultz – D, 25 years old, 2004 Caps 1st round pick, 319 pro games in 5 years
Jay Beagle – D, 25 years old, undrafted Caps & Pro debut 2008, 41 pro games in 3 years
Eric Fehr – F, 25 years old, 2003 Caps 1st round pick, 230 pro games in 6 years
Mike Green – D, 25 years old, 2004 Caps 1st round pick, 366 pro games in 6 years
Alex Semin – F, 27 years old, 2002 Caps 1st round pick, 392 pro games in 6 years
Brooks Laich – F, 27 years old, 2001 Ottawa pick who’s NHL debut was 2003 as a Cap, 475 pro games in 7 years
Boyde Gordon – D, 27 years old, 2002 Caps 1ist round pick, 363 pro games in 7 years
The veterans on the staff included a couple of older Caps too and everyone else, well, not a single one had one a Cup, as a matter of fact, none had won a conference final to even compete for a cup, and to the best of my memory, none had even been to a conference final. So, while I’m absolutely FOR having a young, cost controlled players which are a necessity in a capped league and I a FOR developing talent from within, I also know that there HAS to be a balance between having young, Caps franchise drafted and developed players coming up AND having the right mix of veteran voices who have been there before. Even with all the guys who already won the Cup on the current squad, having some outside POV, especially from guys who have competed for it in other systems as well, is never going to be a bad thing.