Arnott looked slow in the latter stages of the season and playoffs, and now we know the reason why. He provided a boost to the team's leadership, as he instantly added gravitas to the room upon his arrival. On the ice, he showed flashes of his skill, including an absolute sick play to feed Alex Ovechkin for the tying goal in Game Two against Tampa Bay. He still carries his size and strength well, but no longer an elite skater, and the knee surgery will only hinder that.
If Arnott is willing to accept a sizable pay cut to take another legitimate chance at a Cup, the Caps should consider the idea. But they really should try fill the No. 2 center spot with a considerably younger player.
Hannan's problem is that while he's game physically, and able against smaller players, he just isn't imposing despite his 6'1", 225 lbs frame, and sometimes just gets beaten in battles along the boards, as he did by the much smaller Martin St. Louis in Game Three, leading to a goal.
Overall though, he's a terrific defender and was one of the biggest benefactors of the change in philosophy to a more defensively oriented team. He's going to be pretty expensive to re-sign, and with the Caps stable of defensemen -- including possibly Dmitri Orlov -- this might be a spot where McPhee tries to save money and lets Hannan walk.
Marco Sturm 33, UFA, $3.5 million (Season: 35 games, 5-11-16, +6, 23 PIM; Playoffs: 9 games, 1-2-3, +1, 4 PIM): Sturm averaged 25 goals a season from 01-02 to 09-10, minus 08-09 when he was injured, so the guy can score when healthy. Unfortunately, most of this past season he was not healthy. He had knee surgery, probably came back to soon, then missed more time, which led to getting waived by the Kings and subsequent waiver claim by the Caps.
Sturm proved to be quite a competitor, and though and he didn't provide that secondary scoring he's always been capable in his history, he played much more physically than I expected, chipped in on the penalty kill, and was a good soldier, playing whenever and wherever Bruce Boudreau stuck him in
His once-elite speed and skating has really suffered from injuries two of the last three seasons and he's really a shell of the player he once was. I'd be highly surprised if the Caps rolled the dice on that speed returning at this point in his career.
Many Caps fans thought Laich should have been awarded the Captain's C when it went to Ovechkin. There could be a mini-revolt by the fan base if the Caps let him walk.
Bradley brings an element of the game when he's most feisty. But anecdotally, his spark just seemed to be missing as the season wore on. Considering the Caps re-signed Matt Hendricks, a player three years younger and more skilled than Bradley, to do essentially the same job Bradley has for the last six seasons, the handwriting may be on the wall for the veteran winger. Also, consider the fact that Jay Beagle could also fill the same role at half the price next season with eight year younger legs if the Caps feel they need more grit.
Gordon certainly doesn't add anything to the offense but is responsible and considering the team traded away its other faceoff specialist in David Steckel, we could see the Caps re-signing him to a moderately-priced contract such as the one he played with this season.
Sean Collins 28, UFA, $650,000 (Season: 4 games, 1-0-1, +2, 0 PIM; Playoffs: 1 game, 0-0-0, even, 0 PIM): Collins spent most of the season in Hershey, where he compiled four goals and 16 assists (+29) in 73 games. He was pressed into duty for the Capitals in the playoffs and was exposed as an AHL-level player on numerous occasions in Game Four against Tampa Bay. He just doesn't possess the speed, strength or acumen necessary at the NHL level.
Hershey could sign him as a veteran AHL defender to fill out their usually competetive roster, but he should only be used as an extreme injury replacement in the regular season, and the Caps already have Tyler Sloan signed for another year to play No. 8 defenseman next season.
Alzner is a classic stay-at-home defenseman and as he continues to fill out, his physical game will as well. Something folks lose sight of is that Alzner is 6'3", but just 205, and an off-season in the weight room will help him with some of the more physical power forwards in the league, as well as possession battles in the corners and behind the goal.
As with Hannan, Alzner's positioning and angle play is sublime, well advanced for a player his age and experience. We anticipate the Caps signing Alzner to a reasonable long-term deal this summer.
Varlamov has all the talent in the world, but his injury problems have kept him from playing a full season the last two years, and if the Caps think his is a chronic situation, they won't get caught up in doling out a multi-year deal for an injury-prone netminder. McPhee has stated on numerous occasions that he values all three of the Caps young goalies (with Braden Holtby), but we could envision a scenario where GMGM trades Varlamov's rights and lets someone else worry about signing him long-term.
Varlamov's agent has also made rumblings about taking his client to the KHL, to which McPhee responded, "If he wants to go to the KHL, let him go." We think that's more of a negotiating ploy by the agent, and Varlamov has stated recently that he wants to stay in the NHL and in D.C. But he also wants to be a starter, and the possibility of being a No. 1 goalie -- plus a possible huge contract offer from a team in his home land -- might be too much to pass up.