Washington Capitals GM For a Day: Dave Stevenson


For those of us who aren’t cleaning up after Stanley Cup parades, it’s slow-season. Basically, it’s a perfect time to play around with Capgeek.com’s Armchair GM feature (If you haven’t tried it yet, go check it out. One can waste several hours of a workday there). In part two of our “GM for a Day” series, Dave Stevenson offers his vision of what the Caps should look like in 2014-2015.

Dave’s Washington Capitals Roster

Dustin Penner ($2.500m) / Nicklas Backstrom ($6.700m) / Alex Ovechkin ($9.538m)
Evgeny Kuznetsov ($0.900m) / Paul Stastny ($6.500m) / Tom Wilson ($0.894m)
Jason Chimera ($2.000m) / Marcus Johansson ($2.000m) / Joel Ward ($3.000m)
Brooks Laich ($4.500m) / Michael Latta ($0.605m) / Eric Fehr ($1.500m)
Jay Beagle ($0.900m)

Dion Phaneuf ($5.600m—20.00%) / John Carlson ($3.967m)
Karl Alzner ($2.800m) / Mike Green ($6.083m)
Mark Fayne ($2.300m) / Nate Schmidt ($1.200m)
John Erskine ($1.963m) /

Braden Holtby ($1.850m)
Tomas Vokoun ($1.000m)

Additions: Penner, Stastny, Phaneuf, Fayne, Vokoun
Losses: Troy Brouwer, Dmitry Orlov

This team has $2,799,872 in cap space assuming a $71 million cap.

More from Capitals News

Dave’s breakdown:

"My main priority with my roster was to find a way to get a top 2 defenseman. Alzner simply isn’t one, and nor is Green. I was tempted to sign Andrei Markov, but I wanted to find a long-term fix as opposed to a short-term one like Markov. Now, teams just don’t give away top paring defensemen, so I knew I’d have to pay quite a bit. I realized that the most realistic (and best, IMO) option was Phaneuf.I know I’ve been ultra critical about Phaneuf, but I think under Trotz, Phaneuf could have a career revival and return to his Norris Trophy Finalist level of play. I traded Brouwer, a 2015 1st round pick (mostly because I really like this year’s draft), and Orlov. The reason I included Orlov was because if I traded for Phaneuf, some of the contract would have to be eaten by the Maple Leafs. He’s simply not worth $7,000,000 a year. He is, however, worth right around $5,600,000 a year. It’s definitely a risky trade, but it was one that I had to do.Phaneuf and Carlson would be a very solid top pairing. Alzner and Green would be a strong second pairing. On paper, they complement each other quite nicely. I had my replacement for Orlov in Schmidt, but I needed a partner for him, preferably a more defensively responsible one.My next priority was to improve blue-line depth. That’s why I signed Mark Fayne. Excellent possession numbers and strong defensively. Fayne would be a great fit as Schmidt’s line partner, plus Fayne could fill in short-term as a top 4 D if needed. I also considered Brooks Orpik, Anton Stralman, and Willie Mitchell, but I ultimately went with Fayne because of his value.My third priority was to improve forward depth. Originally, I was going to re-sign Mikhail Grabovski, until I realized that for roughly $1.5-2 million more, I could get an even better center in Stastny. Stastny would thrive under Barry Trotz because Stastny’s a two-way player who doesn’t slack off on defense.Expecting both Kuznetsov and Wilson to be top 6 forwards might be a bit of a stretch, but they’d have Stastny as their center, which would definitely help. Also, I realize it’s a small sample size, but Kuznetsov and Wilson played extremely well together last season. Worst case scenario, Ward and Wilson could switch lines.I decided to keep Johansson because I think he’d be a nice addition to the third line and I couldn’t find a better value as far as third line centers go. Plus, I know that MoJo is capable of being a top 6 forward if needed. Fresh off the Capitals letting go of Mathieu Perreault for virtually nothing, I wasn’t about to let a top 6 forward get away again.I re-signed Penner because I think his physicality and size would be a great fit for the Backstrom-Ovechkin line.My final priority was to find a veteran backup goalie. Obviously, there’s a good chance that Vokoun is going to retire. However, I think that Vokoun would definitely accept a backup role and I think that Vokoun would like to play for Mitch Korn again. If Vokoun retires, I’d probably sign Thomas Greiss.I decided to keep Erskine because he brings something to the table that the Capitals might need: size and physicality. He’s a tad bit expensive as a 7th D, but I’d rather have him than Jack Hillen."

My Analysis:

Overall I think this roster is a vast improvement over the 2013-2014 version of the Caps which fell short of the playoffs. This roster would minimally contend for the Eastern Conference title and have a reasonable chance of going as far as the Rangers did this year.

Like Dave, I’m a big fan of Paul Stastny and if the difference between getting him and Grabovsky is $1 million or less I’d try hard to lure him to D.C. I’m not sure I’d be willing to pay the $6.5 million it will likely take (if not more) to get Stastny, especially if Grabovsky will come back for $5 million or less. But his talent is undeniable and a clear upgrade over Grabovsky who is no slouch in his own right.

Despite the criticisms of Phaneuf, I’d love to see him on the top pair under Trotz if Toronto were willing to eat a portion of his contract. Fayne would fit nicely as a 4th/5th defenseman on a championship-caliber team and comes without the fanfair (and price tag) of someone like Anton Stralman. The defense Dave has put together is a very good unit and, under a revamped system that doesn’t promote “dump it off the glass” as its primary breakout strategy, would be one of the best in the league.

My only concern with this roster is the wingers on the top two lines. Wilson and Kuznetzov are still unproven as top six forwards and Penner, while a victim of Adam Oates‘ biases, isn’t a difference maker. Rather than resign Penner, I’d probably use his salary plus the leftover $2.79 million in cap space and make a run at another top-six forward such as Matt Moulson, Ales Hemsky or pursue a trade for a similar talent.

Overall I grade Dave’s roster as an A-.