- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2004

The deals and the intrigue continued for the Washington Capitals with the NHL trade looming at 3p.m. today.

Just before last night’s game with Ottawa at MCI Center, the Caps dealt right wing Anson Carter to Los Angeles for prospect Jared Aulin. Goalie Olie Kolzig, also on the trading block, watched from the bench. Team officials said Kolzig had the flu, but general manager George McPhee said the move was made because he and coach Glen Hanlon want to give backup Sebastien Charpentier more of a chance to show what he can do.

Meanwhile, rugged and reliable defenseman Brendan Witt was on the ice for his 556th Caps game, a total exceeded by just 15 players in the franchise’s 30-year history. Right wing Mike Grier, who also could depart, was in the lineup despite the flu.

McPhee said he wasn’t going to make any more deals last night. The Caps shed $34.725million worth of salaries by trading Carter, Steve Konowalchuk, Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, Robert Lang, Sergei Gonchar and Michael Nylander. By comparison, Washington added just $3.83million in salary by acquiring Aulin, Shaone Morrison, Bates Battaglia, Craig Johnson and Brad Norton, plus prospects and draft picks.

Carter, 29, had five goals and five assists after he was obtained Jan.23 in the cost-cutting deal that sent Jagr to the New York Rangers. Carter was deemed expendable because of his $2.8million salary, second on the Caps to Kolzig’s $6.5million, and because they weren’t going to give him a qualifying offer when he became a restricted free agent in July.

Aulin, who turns 22 on Monday, had four points in 17 games for the Kings last year but has been out all season after dislocating a shoulder in training camp. The Caps hope he can get on the ice for their American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, Maine, late this month. He had 44 points in 44 games for Manchester, N.H., of the AHL last season.

“L.A. had expressed interest in Anson, and we thought it would be good for him since he spends the offseason there,” McPhee said. “Rather than have Anson walk away, we got a 21-year-old player who had a real good year in his first year as a pro. Our doctors have talked to their doctors quite a bit. It’s not a career-threatening injury. We probably wouldn’t have gotten Aulin if he was healthy because he would probably be playing in L.A.”

Grier ($1.632 million), a leader and solid two-way player, and Witt ($1.75million) are both 29 and affordable for teams looking to enhance their chances of a long playoff run. They also will be restricted free agents and will cost more if their new teams opt to re-sign them. With two years and $13million left on his contract, Kolzig would be an expensive addition. That’s especially true because he turns 34 next month and because of the likelihood of a labor stoppage.

Also hindering any trade is that most of the playoff contenders are happy with their No.1 goalies. Only Colorado, the New York Islanders and Vancouver figure to have any interest.

There’s more of a market for Witt. New Jersey captain Scott Stevens has been out two months with post-concussion syndrome, and his return is questionable at best. Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Los Angeles reportedly have been pursuing Witt. Dallas may be out of the running after acquiring defenseman Chris Therien yesterday from Philadelphia. The Flyers added Vladimir Malakhov from the New York Rangers yesterday, and fellow defensemen Eric Desjardins and Magnus Ragnarsson should return from injuries soon. Nashville GM David Poile, who drafted Witt for Washington in 1993, may feel less pressed for a reunion after acquiring defenseman Brad Bombardir from Minnesota.

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