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It was a whirlwind day for the Washington Capitals as they made several moves to upgrade a shockingly ineffective offense. First they brought in Dennis Wideman to provide an extra presence at the point on the power play. Then, they made the much anticipated deal to acquire Jason Arnott to anchor the second line.
While a lack of depth up the middle was the primary concern for the Capitals, the addition of Wideman might be just as vital to the team's Stanley Cup hopes. Washington's power play is ranked 25th in the league just a year removed from being the top unit in hockey. Wideman's eight markers with the man advantage make him the leading power play goal scorer on a team with just 35 PPGs on the season.
“I think the power play has been struggling a little bit of late [but] it won’t last long with the amount of guys they have out there," the 27-year-old defenseman said in a conference call on Monday. "They got a lot of depth there and we’ll be fine on the power play.”
If the power play can rediscover their touch from last year, Brooks Laich believes thing will fall into place across the board.
"The power play is usually the catalyst to our offense overall," Laich said earlier this month. "We score on the power play, generally we score more five on five so it gives the team a boost, puts the other team down a little bit and obviously makes a change on the scoreboard. Last year the power play for us was a lethal weapon, and we have to get it back to that point."
Wideman will certainly help regenerate the power play and he was thrilled he won't have to worry about defending against Alex Ovechkin anymore when the Caps go to work with the extra skater.
"Now [I'm] going to be trying to get him the puck,” he laughed.
Despite the Caps reversion to a more defensive mindset, Wideman is still excited about playing with explosive players like Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
“Those [up-tempo teams] are the teams that control the play a lot. They have the puck a lot and that’s the type of hockey that I enjoy playing,” he said. “I’m just going to try to get in there and help out wherever I can, carry the puck up the ice and then obviously get the puck as soon as I can to guys like Backstrom and Ovechkin."
The Washington Capitals' first splash of the NHL trade deadline was one that no one saw coming. The Dennis Wideman trade, which brought the defenseman to Washington from the Florida Panthers in exchange for prospect Jake Hauswirth and a 2011 third-round pick, gives the Caps another puck-moving defenseman that will help them find their missing power play.
Last season, the Capitals had the NHL's best power play at 25.2 percent. This season, it's closer to the bottom at 16.3 percent, 25th in the league. Florida's power play is actually worse than Washington's at 13.7 percent (29th). Yet, Wideman accounted for over 25 percent of the Panthers' goals with the man advantage, scoring eight of their 29 total power play goals. Wideman's eight PP goals and 33 total points now lead all Caps defenseman.
With Mike Green suffering from numerous injuries, the Caps lack their power play quarterback, the player responsible for getting the puck into the zone and anchoring the power play. Wideman can do that. Don't expect him to provide solid defense (minus-26 on the season), but the dormant power play has now received the energy boost it sorely needs.
With a lot of NHL trade rumors flying at the trade deadline, the Washington Capitals have stepped in and made a move. They have acquired defensemen Dennis Wideman from the Florida Panthers in exchange for minor league forward Jake Hauswirth and a 2011 third-round draft pick, according to Mike Vogel of WashingtonCaps.com.
The deal was consummated at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, less than four hours before the 3 p.m. deadline, according to Vogel. The Capitals still have that much time to make a move for a second-line center if they feel it is an important need. The team did acquire veteran winger Marco Sturm off waivers over the weekend.
The 27-year-old Wideman fits in with the team's philosophy of becoming more defensive-minded. He has nine goals and 33 points in 61 games this season for a struggling Panthers team. His best season came in 2008/09 with the Boston Bruins, where he posted 13 goals, 37 assists and a plus/minus of +32. He also provides insurance for the Capitals on the blue line as they deal with the frequent injuries to Mike Green and Tom Poti.
It seems likely that the Washington Capitals are looking around the league for a second-line center to add to the team prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday. It also seems likely that Jason Arnott of the New Jersey Devils will be moved, since he's an unrestricted free agent. Would these two sides be a good match?
We think so.
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reported today that Arnott will be moving somewhere tomorrow whether the Devils win or lose tonight. He even went so far as to name the Capitals as a possible destination.
And according to the Newark Star-Ledger, Arnott may even request a trade out of New Jersey.
"Maybe a little bit," Arnott admitted Saturday ... "I've thought about [tonight being his last game with the Devils]," he said. "It will be disappointing, but it's part of the game, part of the business because of the hole we dug ourselves at the beginning of the year."
It seems to be nothing more than rumors and pure speculation at the moment that Washington would be the team to make a move with the Devils to acquire Arnott. But they could be as good a fit as anyone else.
We'll keep you updated in this StoryStream as this or any other deals develop over the next 21 hours.
With just two days before the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 28 at 3:00 PM EST, the Washington Capitals have already made one move. The team picked up left winger Marco Sturm off waivers earlier today, and sent D.J. King packing.
King had played in only 14 games this season and was signed to fill the enforcer role that had been vacant since the departure of Donald Brashear prior to the start of the 2009-10 season. But with other physical players like Matt Bradley and John Erskine dropping the gloves when necessary to stick up for Washington's stars, King's services were no longer deemed necessary.
The often injured Sturm is a speedy and seen as a good skater with quality puck-handling skills who is likely to step into Washington's lineup immediately. He'll be among the Capitals' top six forwards.
But just because the Capitals have made a minor move, one should not believe that the team is done seeking new players this season. The Capitals could still look to add a premier second-line center, as suggest by SB Nation D.C.'s own Adam Vingan earlier this month. Some potential targets could be Stephen Weiss, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, or Jason Arnott, but the Capitals would probably have to be willing to part ways with one of the team's several young talents like Marcus Johansson or Matthieu Perreault.