Washington Capitals Not Expecting to Make Big Moves at Trade Deadline

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

With Alex Ovechkin entering his prime and a club that has the NHL's fifth-best record, the temptation to trade the future for a run at the Stanley Cup this season is great. But Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee said yesterday that he intends to resist the temptation as today's 3 p.m. trade deadline approaches.

"We've taken a long-term approach, and we've got a good club as a result," he said. "We can continue to be a good club if we're smart about things. We have some terrific young players that took some years to accumulate and we're not interested in giving them away."

The Capitals have an 11-point lead in the Southeast Division and are battling the surging New Jersey Devils for second place in the Eastern Conference. But to solidify its status as a championship contender, Washington likely must address a number of needs.

In order of importance, those needs are: a rugged defenseman, a goaltender capable of stepping into the starting role should José Theodore suffer an injury or falter and a gritty presence up front to complement the Capitals' core of finesse forwards.

"If we can add a little something here or a little something there, we would do it," McPhee said. "But we don't sense right now that very much is going to happen with our club, and that's fine."

McPhee wouldn't discuss specifics, but he acknowledged that the Capitals have enough space under the salary cap ceiling to make a significant move.

"We have room to do something if we wanted to do something," he said. "It depends on what the deal looks like."

One player who has been linked to the Capitals in recent days is Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris, according to Toronto sports network TSN. Morris, 30, will be an unrestricted free agent in July and is believed to have waived his no-trade clause; a scout from Phoenix attended Sunday's game at Verizon Center.

One veteran who does not appear headed to Washington, though, is Islanders captain Bill Guerin. A number of media outlets reported over the weekend that the Capitals were bidding for the 38-year-old right wing. But two Capitals sources said Guerin has never come up in discussions.

Someone the Capitals would like to move is struggling veteran center Michael Nylander. The 36-year-old has been a healthy scratch the past four games but has a no-movement clause in his hefty contract, which is due to pay him a total of $8.5 million over the next two seasons.

Nylander would not comment when asked if had been approached by management about waiving his no-trade clause, and McPhee declined to discuss the possibility of trading the Swede.

"You don't know what can happen, but right now it's quiet," McPhee said. "We talked to a lot of clubs [Monday], we talked to everyone again [yesterday]. But I expect the rest of the day to be quiet and we'll see what happens" today.

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