With 10 days to go before the NHL’s trade deadline, there have yet to be many major deals and Capitals General Manager George McPhee said it appears as though many teams may remain quiet until Feb. 27 draws much closer.
The Capitals are at an interesting place this season at the deadline. They’re fighting to work their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture and have had two key players sidelined by injuries.
Mike Green is expected to return from sports hernia surgery soon, possibly this weekend, and much depends upon how he fares upon being placed in game action once again. The murkier portion of the equation is the health of Nicklas Backstrom, who remains sidelined by a concussion and hasn’t skated for more than five minutes since Jan. 6.
“It’s hard when you don’t know what you’re going to have,” McPhee told reporters on Thursday. “Obviously Nicky’s a terrific player and we’ll certainly welcome him back but we don’t know when that’s going to be. We’ll get as close to the deadline as we can to figure out what we might be going with and make decisions accordingly.”
Keep in mind McPhee typically reveals little about his thinking at this time of year, so it’s always tough to gauge his true intentions. But he made it clear he wants as much information as possible on Backstrom’s recovery and Green’s progress to consider before making a move.
Whenever Green is activated off the long term injury list, it will decrease the amount of room the Capitals have to spend under the salary cap at the deadline. According to Capgeek,com, Washington’s room to add at the deadline will be roughly $1 million once Green returns. (That is without including recently recalled Keith Aucoin, as it’s likely he would be returned to Hersey if the team acquires a forward).
That’s not a large cushion of space. Asked if he would consider placing Backstrom on long term injured reserve in order to increase the amount the Capitals could add at the deadline, McPhee said it’s not the ideal path for the team to take. If the team would place Backstrom on the list, exceed the salary cap and then Backstrom were able to return before the postseason they wouldn’t be able to activate him.
“It’s an option certainly but Nicky’s not the kind of guy you want to LTI and then three weeks later he’s ready to go and you can’t use him,” McPhee said. “We’ll just see when, 10 days from now, if there’s a way to help the club we will if there isn’t a deal that makes sense then we won’t do it. You do have to put a team on the ice again in September. We have certainly lots of young talent that everybody would like to have, but we’d like to have them in our lineup too.”
All those elements considered, McPhee said the Capitals’ aren’t solely limited to exchanging salary for salary adding that there are “always ways to do things”. When questioned directly about Alexander Semin, and if he would consider trading the Russian winger, McPhee responded in a more broad fashion reiterating that he isn’t set on moving players out of Washington.
“We’re not interested in moving anybody,” McPhee said. “We have a solid team when we get healthy and we’ll see how healthy we are 10 days from now and what we can expect from Mike and Nick. Then we’ll make decisions based on that but we’re not that interested in moving people out.”
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