Capitals appear to be searching for experience at NHL trade deadline

By Katie Carrera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 28, 2011; 12:02 AM

Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee stood pat Sunday, choosing not to make any changes to Washington's roster just a day before the NHL's 3 p.m. trading deadline. But if comments from owner Ted Leonsis on his personal blog, "Ted's Take," are any indication, there could soon be a new face or two in the locker room.

"We would like to add jump and difference to our team," Leonsis wrote Sunday. "What we don't want to do is dramatically change our team with a rental in exchange for several talented young assets. That isn't what we believe in. Change can be good and it can be bad. I am hopeful we can add some vets to help us improve in the short term. That is our challenge. Wish us luck."

McPhee made his first move of the trade-deadline season - and his first acquisition since trading for defenseman Scott Hannan in early December - when he picked up veteran left wing Marco Sturm off waivers on Saturday.

Sturm could help bolster the Capitals' offense, which is recording more than a goal a game less than its average from a season ago, but McPhee may still be in the market for an established two-way center as well. A defenseman for added depth could also still be in the cards before Monday's deadline passes, given the uncertainty of when Tom Poti (groin) will return to the lineup and the possibility of lingering concerns about Mike Green's health after the defenseman suffered a second blow to the head in two weeks Friday against the Rangers.

After defeating the New York Islanders, 3-2, on Saturday, the Capitals own 76 points and reside in the fifth playoff position in the Eastern Conference. They trail Southeast Division leader Tampa Bay by five points.

Every other team in the top eight of the East has made at least one trade to add an extra piece to its roster. Philadelphia picked up winger Kris Versteeg and plucked defenseman Nick Boynton off waivers; Tampa Bay shored up its defense with veteran Eric Brewer; Boston brought in defenseman Tomas Kaberle and veteran forward Rich Peverley, among others; Pittsburgh acquired power forward James Neal, defenseman Matt Niskanen and veteran freelance offensive artist Alex Kovalev from the Ottawa Senators' sell-off; Montreal traded for Brent Sopel to help boost depth with a depleted blue line; the New York Rangers got their veteran defenseman in Bryan McCabe; and Carolina went back to the future to add experience with Cory Stillman.

The spotlight of this year's deadline seems to shine brightest on what the Dallas Stars will do with center Brad Richards, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer but has been out for more than two weeks with a concussion. It's unclear when he'll return. But more transactions may stem from the teams that already have declared a full-out rebuild, like Ottawa and the Florida Panthers, who have had nearly every player from Stephen Weiss to David Booth involved in a trade rumor.

New Jersey may have tough choices to make as the deadline looms as well. The Devils, who beat Florida on Sunday, have gone from last place in the NHL to just nine points out of a playoff spot. Devils center Jason Arnott will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and has a no-trade clause in his current contract, but he could ask to be traded to a contender by the deadline.

Capitals note: Washington reassigned goaltender Todd Ford, who served as Michal Neuvirth's backup Saturday against the Islanders, to the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears.

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