Sarich, Pelech and the Washington Capitals

Montreal Canadiens' Benoit Pouliot (C) gets a shot on Washington Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov (R) despite defensive pressure from the Capitals' Tom Poti (L) and Mike Green (bottom) in the third period of Game 2 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final hockey series in Washington, April 17, 2010. The Capitals won the game in overtime.  REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)


With the summer winding down and training camp rapidly approaching, the impetus to make roster decisions is increasing. Not only in Calgary, where a glut of defenders and a bloated cap budget have the team in a pickle, but elsewhere throughout the league.

The Washington Capitals are another such team. The Caps have struck out in their search for a capable NHL defender and the fans are starting to get antsy because their options are beginning to dwindle now that Willie Mitchell is off the market. Washington’s current d-corps looks like this:

Green – Shultz

Poti – Alzner

Erskine – Carlson


Not the deepest of groups. Alzner and Carlson are high-level kids, but are still fairly green. A guy like Sarich who can play in the top 4 and kill penalties would probably useful to them particularly since the Caps have more than enough cap space to accommodate his salary.

On the Flames side, it’s no secret the club could stand to lose an overpriced defender or two. Calgary now boasts 8 one-way NHL contracts including Bouwmeester, Regehr, Giordano, Sarich, White, Pardy, Kronwall and Staios.

As if the situation wasn’t complicated enough, Matt Pelech is set to become waiver eligible this season. According to his player bio, Pelech signed his first contract in 2007. With the help of Cap Geeks waiver calculator, that seems to mean that Pelech will indeed be waiver eligible this season – meaning the Flames will risk losing the former first rounder to waivers should they ever try to recall him from the farm during the season. While the big guy hasn’t exactly blown the doors down as a prospect (despite his draft pedigree), there’s no question losing him for nothing would represent a significant loss to the organization. There’s no guarantee he’d be snagged off the wire, but it’s probably not a gamble worth taking.

Thus, beyond the Staios/Sarich/too many d-men/bad cap position issues, the Flames will likely have to make a decision on where Pelech lands for the entirety of the year this September. If Pelech is to make the leap in 2010-11, a roster spot has to be cleared for him sooner rather than later. The team can do that by demoting the likes of Steve Staios to the minors (which would also clear his cap hit from the roster), but I’m sure the guys who sign the checks would prefer to deal a big ticket rather than bury one. The org may be able to squeeze an asset out of Washington in return for Sarich as well, which would be a pleasant bonus.

There’s no knowing the minds of Sutter and McPhee, but the swap makes sense on paper and is worthy speculation fodder for the last few weeks of the off-season. Feel free to suggest packages in the comments.

  • House

    Ecklund had me dreaming of Carter on the first line but with Gagne traded away, there will be no deal there. Its like Anaheim dealing Getzlaf. Not gonna happen. I would like to see a second rounder come back for Sarich regardless although it would be good to see Darryl pull a rabbit out of his hat like he did with Kipper and Bourque.

    Go Flames Go

  • The caps have a ton of prospects down the middle. Would love to see Sarich gone in return for a Center who can develop until we trade Jokinen again.

    If Sarich gets dumped & Staios gets demoted, does that mean Kotalik stays?

  • I hate Kotalik as much at the next guy. I think hes lazy and that was one of the stupidest trades the flames have ever done, let alone any hockey club. That being said, looking at the option of removing Kronwall, Sarich, and Staios from the books and giving that last spot to Pelech or, if he doesnt do well in training camp, signing a FA to a very very cheap salary intrigues me. I am particularly intrigued by Kotalik. Remember I hate him but is he really THAT bad? If you have the cap space maybe he really could contribute SOMETHING to this team that cannot score goals.

    If the Flames could trade Sarich for a guy like Laich that would be awesome. Thats not likely and would be thrilled just to see a 3rd rounder come back. Maybe Sarich does have a little value. He has won a cup, was a pretty big contributer on that winning team, and can be decent/average in a 4th d-man role. Maybe Washington would even look at it as an addition as more of a teacher role (as hopefully Staios will be next year on the farm).

    Just my thoughts, if they get anything more than a 3rd for him we won.

    • Kotalik isn’t a terrible NHLer. He’s just on a bad contract.

      Is he ever going to be a $3M guy at ES? Probably not. But if he’s on your team, he can probably do some good on the PP and the shoot-out and won’t be too big a problem if you can shelter him from the tough competition.

      • Thats what I’m really thinking to be honest. Of the big three contracts everyone wants gone on the team (i.e. Sarich, Staios, and Kotalik) I would have originally put Kotalik second behind Staios but now I’m thinking he can add some value to the PP on the point and on the third line. A line of him Stajan/Jokinen and Moss might do surprisingly well playing against other 3rd liners. They just have to be certain they dont ever let them out there against the best of the best.

        From a longer term stand point I would focus on the teams strength (depth at defense) as the area where the salaries could be very expedable because there are enough kids out there that one surely must be ready to make the jump as a #6 right? If not there is some good enough defenders still on the market that could be had for near league minimum. Get rid of Staios and Sarich now, save about $6 mill this year. Let Kotalik play. If he falters hes an issue that can be taken care of next off season. Satios $$ will be off the books and can be replaced with Kotalik going over seas.

        The only benefit I can see from getting rid of Kotalik at this time is if they are replacing him with some young RFA that a team is looking to offload because they cant sign them (i.e. Ryan

  • BobB

    The caps are in their own pickle as well, considering they are going to be no match for the newly appointed “best team in the league – the Canucks” – blech. This is according to the Hockey News. I disagree.

    Why, are the Caps no match for the Canucks? Luongo.

    The Caps need a goalie and need a goalie badly. Therefore, they are not going to have much Cap Space after they go shopping.

    They may be able to convince Theo to come back for 1.75-2mil.

    They may also be the ones to bite and sign the overrated Niemi for whatever his arbitration award was? ~2.75??

    That’s bad news for the Flames, cause then there is much less money for Cory Sarich.

    We could however, suggest this, since people like throwing his name out there in trades:

    Miikka Kiprusoff (5.8) + Cory Sarich (3.6) and Mikael Backlund (1.2) total 10.6

    in exchange for

    Semyon Varlamov (825k) and LW Alexander Semin (6mil) total 6.8

    Wait, what am I saying…that’s just stupid.

  • BobB

    All indications I’ve gotten from WAS is that they’re going to stick with the youngsters in net. With Niemi winning the cup and Huet sitting on the bench, a lot of teams have come around to the “don’t pay too much for goaltending” line of thinking.”

    Now you’re going to make me defend my stupid idea.

    I wouldn’t make the trade but here are the reasons it works:

    1. The money works.

    2. Washington has a surplus of what Calgary needs, and Calgary has a surplus of what Washington needs.

    3. IF, the Caps go into this season with 5 million bucks cap surplus and that goaltending tandem, they are making a big mistake. There aren’t really any defensemen that would help them, and they don’t need more forwards/scoring. Goal is the area.

    4. Washington finished 1st last year, the org./fans will want to see an improvement. ie… the cup. Or at least an acquisition that will make them think they can win the cup. ie. Kipper.

    5. The first place team may be one of the few Kipper would waive his NTC to go to.

    6. Lots of ??? around Alex Semin after 2 pts in 7 playoff games.

    but a lineup of

    Semin-Lanks-Iggy, Hagman-Joker-RBQ, Tang-Stajan-Kotalik, Glenx-Connie-Moss suddenly looks like it could score a lot of goals and keep the puck in the other end of the rink.

    Varlamov is a good keeper, he’ll be unaffordable for the caps at seasons end anyway, if that is their philosophy. I personally think you shouldn’t pay too much for any position, but I’m dumb that way.

  • @ Lawrence

    I actually didn’t mind your fantasy scenario. However, you and I both know Sutter would rather kiss each of Lowe’s Stanley Cup rings than give up Kipper in a trade that would include not one but two Russian players.

    • BobB

      Ha! I’m not surprised it was you to be the first to point that out, but that’s kinda why I suggested it. Yes, I know that too, maybe all too well. It does however, open up the conversation of what possibilities exist out there that would be vetoed on the sole basis of Sutter’s Nationalisms.

  • I don’t think the Flames would be successful with the whole young goalie getting lucky all season scenario. It doesn’t fit Sutter’s hockey model & I think he’s too stubborn to ever think that will work.

    Parting out our best player isn’t gonna make our team better. Semin would be great but I don’t think it’d be worth it if we lose Kipper. Plus I just got his jersey haha.

  • MC Hockey

    They are stubborn so I think Sutter-rite colony will give Kotalik at least 15 games to see what he can do. Staios will go to minors instead is my guess (for just barely enough cap relief) with the promise he is first call up on D or maybe do us a favor and retire. Sarich is too much $ but still a good player if you look around the league at similar style stay-at-home D-men. So while I want his salary gone, his play is not terrible, he is not ancient, and he is from the West so Sutters will keep unless you get a good younger/similar D man in trade. As for the Sarich to Washington idea, I think some deal there make sense if we get draft choice back or young prospect on 2-way contract to avoid salary issues (but that assumes we want Kotalik to stay!!). I also really like Brooks Laich but don’t see Wash giving him up unless we sent Moss with Sarich and got a bit more than just the prospect back.

  • Greg

    I still think that if all Gagne fetched was a 4th rounder and Matt Walker, getting an asset of any value is completely unrealistic. I think it’s a straight salary dump, and you have to be happy if you get the $3M in cap space without having to give up another draft pick in the process. As much as say, Sarich for a 5th rounder, makes sense to us on paper, wouldn’t Washington be better off signing say, Kim Johnson for $3M? In fact, when I look at that way, I’m not sure anyone would even claim him on waivers unless it was on call up.

    I hope it happens, but I think the reality is Sutter had a terrible brain cramp from February-March and it won’t get fixed without burning some cash or picks. I just hope the guy learned a lesson from that. Or that owners did if he didn’t.

  • Greg

    R u guys retarded. Semin is one of those Russians that only plays hard when feels like it, like kovalev and kovalchuk. I would rather die than have semin on my team.

  • MC Hockey

    R u guys retarded. Semin is one of those Russians that only plays hard when feels like it, like kovalev and kovalchuk. I would rather die than have semin on my team.

  • What’s the deal with Eric Belanger? I thought he had signed in Washington… did that fall apart? Because if not, there’s 1.8M less that they’d have to spend… making a Sarich acquisition difficult until they deleted another player, no?

    Having said that, Boyd Gordon played for Brent in Red Deer… I wouldn’t mind him, that’s for sure.