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.