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TGIF: Should the Caps make a play for Kesler?

Feb 28, 2014, 3:21 PM EDT

keslergetty Getty Images

Saturday: Washington at Boston (1 p.m. ET)

The first two teams that came to mind after it was reported that Ryan Kesler had requested a trade out of Vancouver were Detroit and Columbus, mostly because he’s from Michigan and went to Ohio State. But if I had to pick one team that really needs a player like Kesler, Washington would be right up there. Possibly at the top of the list. For the most part, the Capitals’ postseason failures have been put on the shoulders of their captain, Alex Ovechkin. And while I don’t believe Ovechkin’s beyond criticism — sometimes his commitment to defense is abysmal, bordering on unfathomable — the Caps’ lack of playoff success is more about the players they don’t have than the ones they do. And right now they don’t have an elite two-way center like Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, or Pavel Datsyuk, all of whom have put their names on Stanley Cups in recent seasons. Kesler nearly did in 2011, the year he won the Selke Trophy. I’m not sure the Caps have the pieces to get Kesler, and I’m not sure he’d agree to go to DC. But if I’m George McPhee, I’m at least giving Mike Gillis a call.

Saturday: Pittsburgh at Chicago (8 p.m. ET, NBC)

I’m curious to see how the Blackhawks do down the stretch and into the playoffs, particularly from a motivational standpoint. They’re already the defending Stanley Cup champs, and three of their key players — Duncan Keith, Toews, and Patrick Sharp — just won Olympic gold. I still remember Keith saying during the 2011 playoffs, not long after he’d helped Canada win Olympic gold in Vancouver and the ‘Hawks their first Cup since 1961, that he’d struggled with keeping focus and “just was not really … interested for whatever reason” during the 2010-11 season. Chicago lost in the first round to the Canucks soon after he said it. To me, teams like Pittsburgh, St. Louis and San Jose have so much more to prove than the ‘Hawks. It’s tough to say how much of a factor that could be, if any. But there’s no denying it takes a massive physical and emotional commitment to win the Cup.

Sunday: Philadelphia at Washington (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

Thursday’s 7-3 loss to San Jose was the Flyers’ 13th of the season by three goals or more. Only four teams — Edmonton, Florida, Buffalo, and Ottawa — have lost big more often than Philly. And that’s bad. But on the flip side, the Flyers have also won a good number of games (11) by three goals or more. In the entire NHL, Dallas (14W, 10L) is the only other team to hit double digits in both categories. All of which helps explain the feeling a lot of people have about the Flyers should they make the playoffs. Defensively, there are issues. But if they get decent goaltending from Steve Mason, with all the scoring ability they have, they could make a run.

Or, they could get swept in the first round.

Sunday: Ottawa at Vancouver (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

After shutting out the Blues on Wednesday, Eddie Lack will make his second straight start in goal for the Canucks Friday against Minnesota. Roberto Luongo will probably get the nod Sunday at BC Place, but the decision by coach John Tortorella to go with Lack against the Wild already has at least one Vancouver media member smelling another goalie controversy. I’m not sure I’d go that far — yet — but Lack does have better numbers (.924 save percentage) than Luongo (.917) this season. Hey, here’s a question: is a Luongo compliance buyout a complete non-starter for Canucks ownership this summer? To do it would cost just over $22 million, spread over 16 years, and that’s a lot of money. But if I were Gillis and I got the green light, I’d do it.

Sunday: Boston at NY Rangers (7 p..m. ET)

I definitely feel like Glen Sather is using the media to put a scare into Ryan Callahan. The Rangers’ general manager knows his captain wants to stay with the club, so it makes sense to threaten a trade to bring down his asking price. While I don’t believe Sather’s threat is an entirely empty one, it’s interesting that the two sides have been talking this week. Callahan has scored 20-plus goals three times, and we all know the way he sacrifices his body to block shots and get in on the forecheck. Which, in a bit of a Catch 22, is why he’s a risk to give a long-term deal. But, ultimately, you want to keep guys like that. I know it’s been reported there’s a “99 percent chance” he’ll be traded, but I’m more optimistic they’ll come to an agreement.

  1. penguins87and71 - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    I think the best game this weekend will be the Penguins VS Blackhawks game. These two teams are both power house teams. They are both are carbon copies of each other they both have tons of star players, both defenses are solid, and both goaltenders are good. The only advantage the Blackhawks have is they have 4 good lines while the Penguins only have 2 good lines.

  2. jpelle82 - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    that heritage classic game is going to be awful. have they managed to sell all the tickets yet? i would be pissed if i bought tickets the day they went on sale only to see the rest of the fans pay 1/3 of the price just so they could fill the seats.

    • kaptaanamerica - Feb 28, 2014 at 6:59 PM

      Troll much…

  3. topshelf37 - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    If the Caps want to avoid a playoff choke yet again, wouldn’t it be wise not to trade for someone who never shows up in playoff/championship scenarios? Where was he during the Stanley Cup Finals? Where was he when the US played Canada…both times…?

    • topshelf37 - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:34 PM


    • imleftcoast - Feb 28, 2014 at 4:21 PM

      You don’t have any idea what you are talking about. He was instrumental in making the Finals. Pretty much won the Nashville series. stfu.

  4. capspats - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Yes it would be awesome to get kesler, we really need a defensive forward. I don’t know what we’d give for him tho, maybe we could include mike green?

    • therealjr - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      That’s the problem. What do the Caps have, short of Backstrom, Ovechkin and Carlson that they really want?

      I’d ship Green there for Kessler in a heartbeat.

      • mikebel11 - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        Green could be of interest. If they eat half of Erats salary he could also be part of the deal. A first round pick would likely be part of the deal. I think if I’m Vancouver, my asking price starts at Andre Burakovsky though.

    • elvispocomo - Feb 28, 2014 at 4:03 PM

      That Canucks don’t really want Green though. They have an abundance of D as it is: Edler, Hamhuis, Bieksa, Garrison, Tanev, Stanton and Diaz are all good to very good on the back end.

      As an alternative suggestion, maybe they’d consider Kesler and Booth for Johanssen, Orlov, Erat and a 1st. It’d open up the Canucks to move a more valuable D for more help up front.

      • therealjr - Feb 28, 2014 at 4:42 PM

        You just said you don’t want defense then you ask for Orlov. So you don’t want Green.

        Booth and Erat are a wash – although Booth costs about $2.5M more in real dollars.

        Kesler for two roster players and a #1 seems a little steep.

      • elvispocomo - Feb 28, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        There’s a big difference between Orlov at $690K and Green at $6.08M. We aren’t going to trade for Green so we can move another D, that gives no advantage in either cap or actual playing ability.

        Booth might be making more in salary, but Erat has a higher cap hit – an extra $250K for this year and next. That, and Erat has multiple times this year requested a trade so that does affect his value.

        If you want a very good Selke winning center then you have to offer good assets in return or else why would the Canucks bother trading him? He’s already said he didn’t ask for a trade and the rumour is false so I’m sure he’d be happy to stay.

      • therealjr - Feb 28, 2014 at 5:14 PM

        Sure there is a big difference, but he is better than Orlov. You were unclear about what exactly it is you didn’t want.

        Booth and Erat are a wash, they both suck. I’m not going to debate which one sucks ever so slightly less.

        I’m sure every team in the league wants him, but the market is only what teams are willing to pay and none will pay quite that much. Canucks are probably inclined to do nothing unless this festers into the summer.

      • bethgoesglobal - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:08 PM

        I’d love to see Kesler in DC, but I just don’t see McPhee pulling off a deal that the Canucks would accept. Besides, I don’t see the Caps making a big push for the Cup this year (with or without Kesler), so why pay the price?

        I also wouldn’t want to trade MoJo (personally). I really think his game has improved a lot in the past couple years. He’s been get bigger and stronger each season and I’d like to see how he develops; however there is something to be said for a player who’s already there.

  5. xdj511 - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Thank you Jason for being a voice of reason in regards to the Callahan situation. I also believe that all of the trade talk is a scare tactic from Sather. Luckily we only have five more days to hear about it.

    Also… Kesler to the Caps… if only the Caps were actively trying to trade somebody… I seem to recall Martin Erat’s name being bandied about as somebody who might want a trade out of Washington…

    When you thumbs down me… please be specific as to which comment you are thumbing down. Thank you.

    • stcrowe - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      Erat does keep coming up because he has asked twice for a trade. However, he has played terribly. The only time we see him on the highlight shows is when he scores on his own net. I think that most teams would know to steer clear of this loser.

    • imleftcoast - Feb 28, 2014 at 4:23 PM

      If Kesler would agree to go to Toronto, I think that’s the deal. Kadri is somehow going to end up in Vancouver.

      • kaptaanamerica - Feb 28, 2014 at 7:09 PM

        I wish you could be thumbs downed a thousand times for that comment. I don’t even want kadri to visit Vancouver on vacation let alone play for the Canucks or have Kesler go to Toronto.

    • kaptaanamerica - Feb 28, 2014 at 7:05 PM

      Thumbs up for the thumbs down comment

  6. upyourstodd - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    RE Ovechkin: “sometimes his commitment to defense is abysmal, bordering on unfathomable”

    Jason, I still think that is being nice.

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