As the dog days of August approach, all is quiet on the NHL ice surfaces and the list of available free agents slowly dwindles down by the week. The Capitals were big spenders on day one, landing two premier defensemen in Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik along with a backup goaltender, Justin Peters.
Brian MacLellan did nothing, however, to shore up the forward lines which didn’t impress all that much last season.
In fact, since then they have lost their second-line center, Mikhail Grabovsky. Martin Erat, once viewed as a second-line staple along with Grabovsky entering last season, is long gone. They also traded Mathieu Perreault for a bag of Doritos to Anaheim, losing their third-line center as Adam Oates and George McPhee purged him to make room for a 19-year old Tom Wilson.
Where it all leaves Barry Trotz and the Caps is with their strongest defensive and goaltending corps since the 90’s but an offense that has been so thinned out that one or two injuries would leave them in dire straights. Right now, Aaron Volpatti, arguably one of the ten worst skaters in hockey last year, is currently a candidate to crack the starting lineup, which says it all.
Bolstered as the defense may be, MacLellan’s shopping spree also left the Caps with under $1.2 million in cap space to work with as of today.
Caps fans know what that means – it’s time to go dumpster diving on the free agent market! (an all-too-familiar phase of the offseason from McPhee’s tenure.) It’s on MacLellan to scour the bottom of the bargain bin to try and make this offense deep enough to withstand the toll a hockey season can take on a roster.
As it stands now, here are the five remaining unrestricted free agents the Caps should be mulling over: