With this now becoming a primary concern, and as the Caps look into future players they must re-sign, the rush to sign outside players becomes less of an issue. While I still think Washington has holes that need to be filled by a player from the outside i.e. defense, I can vision signing these Caps more of a priority.
I'm really a big fan of Fehr. Fehr, 24, had his best season to date last year, and I think his presence will make a difference in the future for Washington. Despite his limited time on the ice, Fehr still was able to get 21 goals and finish with 39 points. The numbers seem low for the high-scoring Caps offense, but Fehr scored goals at very opportune times and made things happen when he did get out there ratio-wise. He also did show up in the playoffs when he was put on the ice. I say give Fehr more time on the ice and he'll be able to show
Jeff Schultz. Yes, I always call him a traffic cone, and, yes, I sometimes attribute his improved numbers from last year to the performance of his peers and not his own (things like plus/minus - a misleading stat I believe). But for the flak I always give Schultz, I think he could actually fully turn out in about one more season.
The Caps do need defense, and with Schultz's familiarity of the system and improving play, he could become pretty useful. For the time he spent on ice last season, the team will ability to evenly distribute time among defensemen; Mike Green can get a break!
Finally Fleischmann... I used to defend him often. My favorite showing of Flash came when he returned from his blood clot and displayed some versatility, helping the Caps power play slightly and also playing on the penalty kill. He recorded 51 points this year, adding to that necessary secondary scoring.
But the 26-year-old winger's invisibility during the playoffs put question marks around him. Almost Semin-esque, Flash can choose to show up or not; usually when he's picked on he'll show up big, but if left alone, he seems to fade away. Nonetheless, I say sign him and see what he'll do when Bruce Boudreau leaves him alone and trusts him to show up. Maybe the key will be to not pick on him and test him, but to just let him play. After all, I'll admit I wasn't the biggest fan of scratching Flash for Scott Walker in Game 7 *bitterness*.
Like I said before, however, the Caps still have holes they need to get filled now if they intend to win at all. I COMPLETELY understand that the prices that these quality players went for on the first couple days of free agency were slightly astronomical. But who wouldn't want to play for Washington? Had the Caps been in the front of the race for some of these guys, they definitely could have gotten some players for a more reasonable price. My addiction to Pawn Stars on the History Channel and experience in sales have shown me that negotiations can work in your favor, and with such negotiations, some folks will make accommodations to close the deal.
All of this just shows that Caps fans just have to deal with it (like that's anything different). None of us outside of the front office really know the plan that GMGM has for the team (of course, unless you work directly with the team). For all we know, the Caps could care less about winning the Cup this or next year and want to wait another five years... O_o... Okay, I doubt that but still...
As a fan for over a decade now, I still don't know exactly how to feel about this offseason. All year, I thought this was the Caps' best chance to win it all, and then fairly quickly, that idea was shot to hell. So naturally, I assume that next year would lead to victory with a couple of additions. Clearly though, it's not that simple. I would love to see the Caps make moves to win tomorrow, but I guess if I would take winning three out of four seasons over winning once, and never seeing it happen again.
Looking at other Caps news, rookie camp begins next week. That's about it.
And all condolences to the family of former NHL player, Bob Probert (Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings), who passed away yesterday at the age of 45 from heart failure. About the time I began watching hockey, Probert was still playing. He retired in 2003. Can't tell you how much I loved watching those clips of his fights when I was younger. It's definitely a little more personal in actually having memory of watching the guy play.