With the NHL’s best record heading into the trade deadline, Capitals General Manager George McPhee was looking to add to the team’s depth, and he certainly did so, adding a pair of forwards early in the day and adding two defensemen just before the 3 p.m. ET deadline.
While none of the four players are front-line quality, they do add some depth and grit to a team that is looking to seriously challenge for the Stanley Cup this spring.
The biggest names heading to Washington came in two separate deals with Carolina, as the Caps acquired forward Scott Walker and defenseman Joe Corvo from the ‘Canes.
The veteran forward Walker made a name for himself in Carolina’s playoff series against Boston - for good and for bad.
In Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against last year’s top seed, Walker punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward, and narrowly avoided a suspension from the NHL, but was hit with a $2,500 fine.
Good thing for Carolina, as Walker scored the overtime game winner in the following contest, giving the Hurricanes their first berth in the conference final for the first time since 2006, before the team fell to Pittsburgh in a four-game sweep.
His teammate Corvo also had a hand in the ‘Canes run last spring, as following a season where he recorded 14 goals and 24 assists, he added seven points in 18 postseason games. Corvo also had a role in the Ottawa Senators’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006-07, notching nine points in 20 postseason contests.
But Corvo has struggled this year, as he suffered a lacerated calf in a collision with Washington’s Karl Alzner in a game in Raleigh in November, and has just 12 points in 33 games with the ‘Canes. Now, his puck-moving skills will be utilized in Washington’s high-powered offense, as the Capitals hope he is an upgrade over Brian Pothier, who was part of the deal to bring Corvo to D.C.
Corvo also had a questionable incident in Boston back in November of 2002, when he was arrested for assaulting a woman in a restaurant while as a member of the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. Corvo pled guilty and received a three-year suspended sentence after the incident.
Washington sent its second-round pick to Minnesota to get Eric Belanger, who is fifth on the Wild in points, with 13 goals and 22 assists so far this season. Belanger is also a face-off specialist, ranking seventh in the league in that department and better than any Capitals center besides David Steckel.
The most surprising move was reacquiring defenseman Milan Jurcina from Columbus. Not only was the Slovakian blueliner just traded from the Capitals to the Blue Jackets in December, he also reportedly suffered a sports hernia and may not be ready to play for Washington right away.
Jurcina did skate for his native country in the Vancouver Olympics, finishing on the fourth-place squad without a point. He had four assists with Washington before being traded, and has had one goal and two assists in 17 games in Columbus before being reacquired.
While none of the players are standouts, the additions do help with the team’s depth somewhat, although the team could have used a defensive defenseman to help cut down scoring chances against.
While a good puck-mover, his defense isn’t exactly stellar, and although he fits into the team’s current makeup, as shown by the last three games before the Olympic break, the team could have used more responsibility in their own zone.
The other unknown is how the chemistry issues will impact the team. The team still is 14-1-2 in their last 17 games, and although Pothier is replaced by Corvo on the team’s roster, Washington will still have to make some corresponding moves to get to the 23-man roster.
However, unlike last year where the Capitals had to stand pat due to salary cap issues, McPhee got active to try and bolster the team with some grit and veteran leadership as 20 games remain in the regular season before what Washington hopes is an extended playoff run this spring.
Ted Starkey, a Web editor for the continuous news desk, has written for and edited high-traffic websites, including AOL News, AOL Sports, FanHouse.com, USAHockey.com and BuffaloBills.com. He also has covered the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics, Stanley Cup playoffs, NFL, NHL, MLB and NCAA hockey during his career.
He is a graduate of American University, with a double major in ...
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