January 22, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals center Matt Hendricks (26) fights with Winnipeg Jets right wing Chris Thorburn (22) in the third period at Verizon Center. The Jets won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Farewell, Matt Hendricks

So, we’ve known for a couple weeks now that Matt Hendricks’ time with the Washington Caps was up. He was introduced today as a Nashville Predator, and it wasn’t that fun of a sight to see.

GMGM definitely made the right call by letting him walk, however. The Caps are in need of everything that Hendricks brings to the table, but we’ve seen time and time again how crippling it is when franchises overpay role players. Because of the lack of gritty role players on the team, it feels like the Caps are losing a large chunk of their soul with the departure of Hendricks.

Although fighters are a dying breed, replacing Hendricks fists will be necessary. Aaron Volpatti seems a likely candidate to takeover the top fighting position, since that is probably his only real value (his contract still confuses me.) My biggest wish, and I’m sure most Caps fans agree with me, is that Tom Wilson blossoms into a perfect power forward replacement. He brings size and upside and would be a great infusion of youth and talent if he develops.

Steve Oleksy is now my favorite grit guy on the team, although Oates has stated that he plans on relying on Oleksy to be a dependable blue-line contributor, thus allowing him to drop the gloves on a less frequent basis. I think that’s the smart move, given how lacking the Caps are on the back end.

Matt Hendricks is replaceable, and that’s the only point worth noting when discussing his departure from the club. Yes, he was a huge part of the locker room and he has incredible heart. Yes, I will miss rooting for him and watching him defend his guys. Yes, I didn’t enjoy seeing him in a Nashville jersey today.

But if the Caps are significantly weakened by the loss of Hendricks, then they’ve got far more serious problems to deal with. I’m glad Hendricks got a nice payday, and I hope Predators fans appreciate that guy.

Most importantly, I really hope Braden Holtby is ready for The Paralyzer should the opportunity come around…

Tags: Aaron Volpatti Adam Oates Matt Hendricks Nashville Predators Steve Oleksy Washington Caps

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