The bigger concerns for McPhee are on the ice. He needs to sign at least two of his four restricted free agents — Mike Green and John Carlson — and would no doubt like to have Jay Beagle and Mathieu Perreault back as long as the price is right.
The unrestricted free agents are another story. In theory, there is good reason to bring back Alexander Semin and Dennis Wideman. In reality, it might be smarter to say goodbye to both, especially Semin.
In many ways, Semin defines the Caps: brilliant at times; wonderfully talented and yet destined to break your heart sooner or later. Wideman was an all-star the first half of the season, not nearly as good the second half. His best hockey might be behind him.
If McPhee wants to make a really important move this offseason, perhaps he could take the money not spent on Semin and Wideman and put together a package of draft picks (he has two first-round picks this year) and young players to trade for Columbus’s Rick Nash.
Adding a forward of Nash’s caliber would change the Caps in ways far more important than any coach or system possibly can. Not only would he give the team another big scorer, his presence might finally spur Ovechkin into being Ovechkin again. At the very least, it would take some scoring pressure off Ovechkin and his line.
That is all for the future. For now, there is the epitaph for this season to consider. There’s no shame in the way the Caps lost, but there certainly shouldn’t be any satisfaction either. This was a playoff season in which there wasn’t a dominant team; the Caps were as capable of winning the Stanley Cup as any of the four teams left playing.
And yet, they aren’t playing. They won’t win the Stanley Cup. Hearts and flowers aside, that’s the bottom line. This was a healthy team with a hot goaltender. In the end, this was a spring filled with great promise. It ended — again — with great disappointment.
For previous columns by John Feinstein, go to washingtonpost.com/feinstein. For more from the author, visit his blog at www.feinsteinonthebrink.com