Photo by the Washington Post
George McPhee cannot win.
Heading in to free agency on July 1st, many expected the Capitals’ General Manager to make a splash – like he has in almost every other free agency period during his tenure.
But as Sunday and Monday passed, only Joey Crabb, a bottom six forward, was added to the Washington player corps. There was no winger to replace Alexander Semin. There was no top-four defenseman.
And for some reason, the Capitals’ fan base is in an upoar.
July 1st is a funny day almost every summer, but this summer, it had the potential to be extra funny. With a ridiculously thin market, players like Dennis Wideman and Paul Gaustad had already signed crazy deals as potential unrestricted free agents. As noon passed on Sunday, the same thing began happening again.
Jiri Hudler got four years, $16 million from Calgary. P.A. Parenteau, who has one 20-goal season at age 29, got the same. Jason Garrison, who had 33 points last season, received a six-year. $27.6 million deal with his hometown Vancouver Canucks – and left money on the table.
“It’s a very inflated market this summer, and there aren’t very many players and a lot of teams pursuing those players.” McPhee said at a press conference Monday afternoon. “At some point you start inventing players, making them out to be more than you should. Sometimes it’s better to sit back and stay out of it. It’s not a great crop of free agents this summer anyway.
“We added a skill guy in [center Mike] Ribeiro, and we expect that move is going to make us a whole lot better. We got a pretty good hockey team here. I don’t anticipate a lot happening. You gotta do what you think is right in terms of dollar and term. With respect to certain players, if it doesn’t make sense, you don’t do it. It’s gotta be right for us.”
Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, McPhee is absolutely correct to employ this course of action.
That’s not to say that this team doesn’t need to be improved. Of course it does. Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault are not top-six wingers on a Stanley-Cup caliber team. But spending big money over long term on players that are not worth said money and term is always a bad idea, especially with such a thin market. There is little to be had, and the prices go up for mediocre players as a result.
“There’s not a lot of depth,” McPhee added. “People talk about Parise and Suter, but then where does it go after that? There’s not a lot to talk about. Everybody wants to do something, but you’ve gotta be careful, because we all know what it’s like to feel like you’ve gotta do something, you do something, and the end of training camp or the end of October you look at the guy and say ‘why did we do that?’”
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