Monday, February 05, 2007

Cap for Sale: $50 OBO, Accessories Not Included

There’s a debate raging on over at Capitals Insider about whether or not Richard Zednik should be moved before the trade deadline. I’ve read Tarik’s thoughts and skimmed through the comments in response to this question, not to mention the fact that I'm a Caps fan and therefore know everything. So I feel that I am adequately prepared to respond.

(Why here and not over at the Post? Well...because I can. Plus this way if someone wants to call me a raging moron they have to visit my site. And it’s all about the stats, kids.)

On paper it would seem as though hanging on to a player like Zednik could be rather risky. After all, he’s not getting any younger – just turned 31 – and has suffered a rash of injuries over the last few seasons, including a sports hernia this year that has kept him out of almost half of the games to date. With a team that wants to go young and inexpensive for the foreseeable future, an older player looking for what is likely his last big contract could probably be moved for some picks and/or prospects before the deadline. is usually the case with things “on paper”, there is more than meets the eye when you’re talking about someone like Zednik.

First of all, in the games he actually has played in this season and especially the two since coming back from extensive surgery, he has shown more jump than most of the guys on the ice. He consistently has created scoring chances and is still able to generate that lightning quick speed that we remember so well from his first stint here in DC. Just a little something I like to call ‘butt rockets’, folks...

Second of all, while he could probably garner some picks and/or prospects on the open market, he’s not likely to bring in much more than that. The Caps have stockpiled enough picks; I’m ready to see some actual flesh and blood. And let’s not forget, picks and prospects are just that – picks and prospects. They don’t always pan out (paging Alexandre Daigle...) and even if they do, you usually have to wait years to find out. That should work out well, right? Because Caps fans have exhibited signs of being such a patient bunch lately...

Third, there’s something to be said for the intangibles, the things you can’t measure with numbers. How happy a player is somewhere, how he fits into the locker room, and yes, even fan response. Zed seemed genuinely happy to be back in DC this past summer and has continued to appear that way in every interview he’s given since. As for the locker room, well, no one really knows. I find it hard to believe that anyone could not enjoy this group of guys, though, so I’m going to assume that he likes it. And from what I’ve seen, it seems like the fans have welcomed him back with open arms – it may seem trivial, but management would be smart to keep him on for at least another year just so they don’t piss off any more fans.

I’d personally like to see Zednik stick around and see how his veteran presence can maybe help him to mentor some of the younger guys – much the same way that Bondra (gasp! I said the B-word...sorry) seemed to take a young Zednik under his wing when he first started.

I’m admittedly a little biased. I’ve always liked Zednik and was extremely upset when he was traded to the Habs back in 2000...although I was flattered that the Caps arranged it to coincide with my time there so I could continue to root for him. By the way, I’d like to take full credit for his performance in Montreal if I may. He clearly knew I was there and he responded with career marks in goals, assists and points during my four years. After I left? Well obviously he was despondent, as his performance waned and his ice time followed. Zednik may have only played in 23 games so far this year, but he’s already almost halfway to his points total from last year in a third of the games.

Boy, I never knew my powers were so strong. I wish I could learn to use them for good and not evil...

Anyways, this is the first of what I’m sure will be many trade discussions over the next three weeks. We mere mortals will slip into our collective phone booths to magically become NHL general managers and begin the time-honored tradition of basically predicting everything incorrectly.

Who else is on the trading block? Can we hope to get anything of actual value given the roster of what some people think are simply overachieving AHLers? What will become of little Timmy in the well? And what about Corinne? These questions and many others will be answered on next week’s episode of…SOAP!

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