With less than a week remaining before Mondays 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline and the Capitals losers of five of their last six, the question must be asked:
Should George McPhee be a buyer or seller?
Back in September you would have been laughed out of the Verizon Center with such a question, but lets be real. The Caps dont look like a team thats one or two pieces away from competing for a Stanley Cup.
They dont even look like a team capable of stringing together five or six wins to build a comfortable lead atop the Southeast Division.
So McPhee must ask himself this question: Is it time to unload soon-to-be unrestricted free agents Mike Knuble, Alex Semin and Dennis Wideman before they flee somewhere else on July 1?
Or should he keep what hes built, cross his fingers that center Nicklas Backstrom returns from his concussion and take his chances that the Caps go on a season-ending run that extends well into the postseason?
Last week, McPhee told reporters hed like to hold onto his teams future assets, and there are quite a few of them, starting with Russian forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Stanislav Galiev and extending to their two picks in the first round of the 2012 NHL draft, picks that may be pretty high if the Caps and Avalanche continue losing.
Right now, the Caps have slightly under 1 million in cap space. They could clear another 6.7 million if they deem Backstrom unable to play for the remainder of the regular season (the salary cap is lifted for the playoffs, which would enable to Caps to add salary, then add Backstrom in the post-season).
So what will McPhee do? Better yet, what should he do?