Caps' Wilson not suspended
Welcome to our weekly edition of Penn Quarter Sports Tavern’s 6-Pack of Questions, where we aim to keep it real while answering your most pressing questions regarding the Washington Capitals.
Let’s get started.
@Destro0908 Why is Oates completely ignoring the charging aspect of the hit [on Flyers center Brayden Schenn? [Tom] Wilson came from outside the zone.
When I first saw the replay I immediately thought a suspension of 1 to 3 games was warranted. I was surprised at how vehemently George McPhee, Adam Oates and Alex Ovechkin defended Wilson’s hit and after seeing the entire clip of Wilson’s shift I understand why Brendan Shanahan refrained from supplementary discipline. Does Wilson come from outside the zone? Yes. But he does not make a beeline toward Schenn, as many suggest. Oates accurately described the play on two counts. As Oates stated Tuesday night, Wilson reads the play to see if the puck comes up the left wing wall. It is not until Schenn retrieves the puck that Wilson takes two powerful strides and hits him shoulder to shoulder. Oates also said Thursday morning that Schenn made an “incorrect” play by turning the puck toward the net, which made him vulnerable for the big hit. Again, Oates was right on the mark and likely made those same two arguments to Shanahan. In short, I believe Shanahan not only got it right, but explained himself very well, which is just as important to players who want instruction. By the way, I’m told Wilson texted Schenn after the game to let him know there was no intent to hurt him.
@Dayz00 Do you think the Caps will ever move [Marty] Erat ?
We can’t have our Friday 6-Pack without this inquiry. My short answer is yes. But since the Capitals failed to deal Erat before last night’s midnight NHL roster freeze, they now must wait to trade the disgruntled winger until after Dec. 26. There are three reasons Erat is still a member of the Caps. The first wears No. 21. Until Brooks Laich [groin] proves he can stay in the lineup, the Caps simply can’t afford to trade Erat. Secondly, Erat has done very little to increase his trade value, which hit rock bottom when he announced he wanted out of D.C on Nov. 25. In 31 games this season Erat, 32, has no goals, 10 assists and is a minus-3. Finally, the Caps are seeking more for Erat than any team is willing to give up. While the Caps could use a left-handed No. 4 defenseman, they’re likely to have to settle for a prospect. Erat has given the Caps a list of teams he will play for and McPhee said the list is very accommodating. But I’m beginning to wonder if Erat’s trade value will increase dramatically in the weeks and days leading up to the March 5 trade deadline.
@Tpr04 Is there anything about the likelihood of a [Mikhail Grabovski] extension happening over the next few months?
Good question. I asked Grabovski about this four weeks ago and he told me the Caps had not approached his agent about an extension on the one-year, $3 million contract he signed last summer. Grabovski has 27 points in 32 games and will be looking for another home run as a UFA next summer. With that in mind, his price tag is probably too high for the Caps right now, putting them exactly in the same position they were in with Mike Ribeiro last season. Is Grabovski a good fit with this team? Absolutely. Will they lock him up before the season ends? Not unless he’s willing to take significantly less than $5 million a year, which is probably what he’ll get on the open market.
@ZacharyBobby Does Tom Wilson realize he’s a poor man’s [Milan] Lucic?
Not sure what to make of that one, but Wilson wouldn’t mind that comparison. In fact, when I asked him at the 2012 NHL draft if there is a player he likened himself to he said Lucic. Wilson is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, while Lucic stands 6-foot-3, 235 pounds. Lucic was also 19 when he entered the NHL and he finished that season with eight goals, 19 assists and 89 penalty minutes while averaging 12:07 a game. In 34 games this season Wilson has one goal, three assists and 78 penalty minutes while averaging 7:01 of ice time. When Troy Brouwer was asked about Wilson on Thursday he said he thinks he’ll be a thicker, second-line, goal-scoring right wing in a few years. Lucic topped out at 30 goals and 62 points in 2010-11 and is on a pace to score 27 goals with 58 points this season. I think the Caps would be happy with those projections for Wilson.
@Robostop10 Has [Dmitry] Orlov’s play changed how [Adam] Oates views him?
Another great question. I wondered what would become of Orlov after his agent, Mark Gandler, told me on Nov. 27 he had no future in Washington and wanted to be traded. Three nights later he made his season debut with the Capitals and has been in the lineup ever since. There’s no question Orlov has been impressive since Oates has given him the chance. But that doesn’t mean Oates thinks the 22-year-old defenseman has it all figured out. In fact, Oates harps on Orlov’s defensive zone play nearly every time he assesses his progress. It’s entirely possible Oates used the scratch sheet as a tool to get Orlov to play a harder game in the defensive zone. Whatever the rationale, it worked. Orlov has been one of the Caps’ best blue liners in recent weeks and told me that if he continues to get valuable ice time he wants to stay in D.C. To be honest, the Caps can’t afford to trade him right now and shouldn’t.
@RW LI Around the league, is [Braden] Holtby viewed as the Caps’ most valuable goalie by other organizations? If so, would there be any thought to moving him instead of one of the other two?
I seriously doubt it. Holtby has struggled with consistency this season and we’re too far along into the season to make excuses for him. Does that constitute the Caps trading him? Not in my opinion. If any of the three goalies is moved, my bet is Michal Neuvirth and it would not surprise me if it happened before the Feb. 9 Olympic break. With his brief stint in the NHL, Philipp Grubauer has gained the trust of Oates [illustrated by all three goalies going to Carolina], while Neuvirth seems to have found a away to be injured whenever Oates plans on using him. Of course, for Neuvirth to increase his trade value he’ll need to get some starts. If we see him make a little run in the next month or so, keep your antennae up for trade possibilities.