While the UFA market is mostly tapped out, a few other potential avenues of improvement still exist for Feaster and the Calgary Flames. The latest may be the Washington Capitals and their precarious cap position. Washington boasts a number of things the Flames need, so a cap friendly trade for them might be benefical for both clubs.
In a post at the score today, Sean Tomlinson discusses the Caps budget problems:
Brouwer’s signing is just the latest of what’s becoming an impressive summer for Washington general manager George McPhee, who added some grit and grind in the form of Jeff Halpern, solved his goaltending leak with the signing of Tomas Vokoun, plucked Joel Ward fresh off of his impressive playoff performance, and slotted in Roman Hamrlik on the blue line.
But there’s a cost to all of that spending that goes beyond the number signed on each players’ dotted line. Brouwer’s two-year deal valued at $4.7 million and at a cap hit of $2.35 million annually puts the Capitals $1,805,128 over the league’s $64.3 million salary cap (thanks for giving me a headache with all of those numbers, Capgeek). Teams are permitted to go over the salary cap by as much as 10 percent during the offseason, extra weight that has to be shed prior to October.
McPhee’s problems extend beyond his current cap crunch. The club has yet to re-sign RFA Karl Alzner, who may come in anywhere between $2 million and $3 million per year. As such, the Caps may be looking to dump up to $5 million in cap space before the season starts.
Washington’s desperate position has led to whispers of McPhee shopping Alex Semin. The explosive left winger has just one year left on his deal worth $6.7 million. While obviously injury prone and not the best figher in the world, Semin is a legitimately elite offensive forward. He has never scored less than 26 goals in the NHL, despite never playing more than 77 games in a season. His underlying numbers are frequent amongst the best on the Capitals, meaning he’s not simply a Kovalchukian PP specialist who is a black-hole at 5-on-5. Though he has a reputation as soft and one-dimensional, his year-over-year possession rates say the puck stays in the offensive zone when he’s on the ice.
As such, Semin would obviously fill the Flames enduring need to add another elite forward to the rotation. He is 27-years old, so right in the meaty part of his career-arc. Obviously Calgary would have to drop further salary to add Semin *cough* Hagman *cough* , but it would be worth the upgrade.
The Capitals have other, slightly less shiny baubles that may be up for sale as well. They could spare themselves the trouble of signing Alzer by dealing him instead. His addition would add another true top-four defender to the Flames stable. Despite being just 22-years old, Alzner faced the toughest competition on the Caps blueline last year and had the most difficult zone start ratio (49%). He’s not going to score you many points, but the dude is legit already.
Denis Wideman and Eric Fehr might also be available, although the former is just okay given his $3.875 ticket and the latter would not really address a Flames need since he is more of a middle-rotation forward (albeit a younger one with some upside).
It’s impossible to know just what these players would cost to acquire, although we can be sure the Captials would be looking for draft picks and prospects since they can’t afford to take on any more salary. If either Semin or Alzner is available, I think the Feaster would do well to at least inquire – both fill legitimate needs and wouldn’t cost a valuable roster player.