It was quite discouraging to see the Capitals lay an egg against Los Panteros on Tuesday night. The Capitals powerplay stunk without Alex Ovechkin. While the Capitals managed to outshoot the Panthers 38-19, the Capitals scoring chances were not real good. Al Montoya saw all of the pucks that came his way through 40 minutes, and the Capitals had very little net presence.
The Capitals powerplay went 0 for 8, which ended up costing them the game. The Panthers did a real nice job of closing down the Capitals powerplay. Without Ovechkin’s rocket launcher to worry about, the Panthers did not respect any of the other Capitals to fire the puck consistently at the net. The Panthers penalty kill was the star of the night on Tuesday night.
So the Capitals lacked a net presence and lacked a big shot in their lineup without Alex Ovechkin. It was really noticeable on their powerplay. These glaring flaws should get noticed by the Capitals management and coaching staff.
NOW PULLING INTO THE STATION: DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will be one of the top trade targets of the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, barring no contract extension. The Jets are on the road of missing the playoffs this season.
The 30-year old Minnesota native is a freight train on skates. The massive 6’5” 260 lb blueliner is a bruiser, and has an intimidating presence. He is a former Stanley Cup Winner with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Byfuglien brings a physical presence. He is not afraid to mix it up and he can really get under his opponents’ skin.
WHY THE CAPITALS SHOULD TRADE FOR BYFUGLIEN
Dustin Byfuglien is an impact player. He can play forward or defense, which makes him versatile. He is a player that causes a lot of disturbances on the ice. Big Buff was a major player in the Hawks first Stanley Cup run, so he is a proven playoff performer.
The main area where Byfuglien can be utilized is the powerplay. He can give the Capitals another big shot from the point. With a booming shot from the point, that will open up even more space on the ice.
Byfuglien would be an instant upgrade over Niskanen and Carlson on the Capitals powerplay point because his shot is harder and quicker. Byfuglien can also slot in front of the net, providing a big screen in front of the opposing goalie.
In order for the Capitals to get over the playoff hump, more net presence is needed. The space on the ice gets tighter in the playoffs, and battles in front of the net become even more crucial. Not many opposing players are going to be able to successfully move Byfuglien’s big frame out of the way in front of the net.
WHY THE CAPITALS SHOULD NOT TRADE FOR BYFUGLIEN
The price will be high for Dustin Byfuglien. Big Buff will get attention from all of the top contending NHL clubs. With the higher demand, the price tag will be higher.
IF the Capitals traded for Byfuglien, the Capitals will have to probably shed salary somewhere. The Capitals would probably have to shed someone like Brooks Laich or Marcus Johansson in order for the pieces to fall into place. Trading a player like Brooks Laich with his $4.5M salary will be extremely difficult.
The Jets will probably demand something along the lines of a 1st round pick and a top prospect from whatever club they choose to do business with.
With Byfuglien, the Capitals will probably only have him as a rental. He will probably not be in their long term plans, if they choose to trade for him. Is he worth a possible big deadline price if he is only a short term solution?
HOP ON OR HOP OFF THE TRAIN?
The Capitals window to win is now. The fans in D.C. are craving a Stanley Cup. The Capitals have assembled the best team in franchise history.
So, go for it! Take a big risk and a big gamble. Dustin Byfuglien has proven that he can make an impact in the postseason. What is wrong with trading for a player that can make in impact in the spring?
Byfuglien can address the issues of “more net presence” and “another big shot” in the Capitals lineup. The Capitals powerplay is already pretty good and has a good setup. Imagine if the powerplay had a booming shot from the point. Good luck to any other team trying to stop that!
Byfuglien is a mean, physical customer. He is a rude player on the ice. He brings additional attitude to the Capitals lineup. There is nothing wrong with adding more swagger to an already loaded team.
By George Foussekis