By Katie Carrera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 1, 2010; 12:10 AM
The Washington Capitals have spent the past three or four years looking for the right shut-down defenseman to add to their roster in the hope of making a run at the Stanley Cup.
General Manager George McPhee said he had been involved in talks to obtain Hannan since August, and that the durable blue-liner's combination of experience, shot-blocking prowess and stay-at-home nature is exactly what the Capitals need.
"I think it completes our defense," McPhee said. "We're really happy with the way our defense has been playing, but to add one more guy like this helps. Our defense moves the puck pretty well - we can generate offense from back there - but to have one more shut-down guy that can block shots, that can do all the little things that would make a difference, we thought was important to add."
Hannan, who turns 32 in January, joined the Capitals in St. Louis, where Washington will take on the Blues Wednesday in the first of back-to-back road contests this week.
During Washington's rise to NHL prominence, critics have long said that a player with Hannan's skill set would be necessary to make a serious playoff run.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Hannan is a defense-first defenseman. He excels at keeping opposing shots to the perimeter, preventing traffic in front of his own net and blocking shots - a category he would have led the Capitals in each of the past four seasons.
"You like being on a team where you know you can fit in right away with something the team wants," Hannan said. "I've played that [defensive] role on many other teams."
Throughout an 11-year career playing for San Jose and then Colorado, Hannan has developed a reputation for being durable; he's missed just two regular season games since the 2007-08 season.
With 775 regular season NHL games to his credit, Hannan immediately adds experience to a Capitals defensive corps with four players - Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, John Carlson and Karl Alzner - younger than 25. He has played in 73 playoff games, including a run to the Western Conference final in 2003-04 with the Sharks.
"I'm really excited about going to a team that is in first place and has a great chance to make a run for the Stanley Cup," said Hannan, who waived a no-trade clause for the move to take place."I'm excited to be able to add whatever I can to a team with that much talent on it."
Hannan is in the final season of a four-year, $18 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. According to capgeek.com, his pro-rated salary cap hit is $3,193,548, leaving the Capitals with more than $2.3 million under the cap should they want to make another move as the season progresses.
By acquiring Hannan several months before the NHL's trade deadline in March, Washington has plenty of time to integrate him into the close-knit roster that, for the most part, has been together for several years. The timing, McPhee said, also reflects the more limited options that have been available at recent trade deadlines.
"Sometimes you get to the trade deadline and things you want aren't there; there aren't a lot of things to choose from anymore. More teams are in the hunt," McPhee said. "This is not unlike the [Jason] Chimera trade last year. It was there to be done and we thought it was the right thing to do."
Fleischmann heads to Colorado after spending the five years since the lockout with the Capitals organization. This season, he struggled to contribute to Washington's secondary scoring, tallying just four goals and six assists in 23 games. Recently, it looked as though the Capitals had abandoned their experiment of playing him at center.
A natural left wing, Fleischmann started the season as the second-line center but struggled on faceoffs and was scratched twice in the past seven games. Only $754,839 of his $2.6 million contract this season will count against Washington's salary cap figure.
"Flash is a good player. He's not playing as well as he can play right now, but he will," McPhee said. "He's helped get us to where we are and was a big part of the turnaround."
Capitals note: Alexander Semin did not participate in Tuesday's practice because of a nagging injury, according to Coach Bruce Boudreau, who added that the team's trainers said the Capitals' sniper "needed another day" off.