By Leslie Silvey –
The annual NHL trade deadline marks the date after which no more trades can be made for the remainder of the season. For hockey fans, this day can either be like Christmas with lots of shiny new presents or a tearful bon voyage to beloved fan favorites reluctantly being shipped off to don another team’s sweater. This day is especially important to teams like the Capitals, who are looking to tweak their roster (just a tad – don’t want to mess with beautiful chemistry) for what we hope will be a long and lucrative playoff run. General Manager George McPhee is one of the busiest men on the planet in the days and hours before the actual deadline (which fell at 3 p.m. on March 2 this year). McPhee is known for holding his cards close to his chest when it comes to any potential trades for his organization and we are usually very surprised (and pleased) when the actual trades hit the wires. I followed the flurry of trade action via Twitter, where analysts from Canada’s CBC and TSN set up shop, providing minute-by-minute speculation and reporting trade transactions.
The Capitals were one of the most active teams in the league at the deadline this year, picking up three new faces and one old, familiar one. The new kids on the block are right wing Scott Walker (Carolina Hurricanes), defenseman Joe Corvo (Carolina Hurricanes) and center Eric Berlanger (Minnesota Wild). The familiar face belongs to defenseman Milan Jurcina, who will once again be rocking the red after his brief stint with the Columbus Blue Jackets! The Capitals traded future draft picks for Berlanger, Jurcina and Walker, but the Corvo acquisition sent Brian Pothier, Oskar Osala and a second round pick in 2011 to the Carolina Hurricanes. It’s always sad to say goodbye to a beloved player and we wish Brian Pothier nothing but the best with his new team.
Each of the new players will bring their own unique contributions the red-hot roster. Scott Walker is already earning quite the fan following after lighting the lamp not once, but twice, in his first home game in a Capitals sweater! Walker also adds a little more "sandpaper" in front of the net, something that comes in quite handy in the mucking and grinding style seen in post-season play. He has played in 29 career Stanley Cup playoff games, registering one goal and seven assists.
D-man Joe Corvo had four goals, eight assists and only 12 penalty minutes in 34 games for the Hurricanes this year. He is expected to pair up nicely with fellow blue liner Mike Green, as both are offensive-minded defensemen who will make the league’s leading power play even more dangerous!
Eric Berlanger is a Quebec native who comes from the Minnesota Wild with 13 goals and 22 assists in 60 games to rank fifth in scoring for his former team. He also ranks seventh in the NHL with a 57.6 faceoff percentage. And on another interesting note, both Berlanger and Corvo have had experience playing under Coach Bruce Boudreau during their time in the AHL.
And Capitals players are excited to welcome back big guy Milan Jurcina, who was part of a trade sending him and Chris Clark to Columbus in exchange for Jason Chimera. "Juice" recently played for the Slovakian team in Vancouver but is currently out with an injury so we aren’t likely to see him on the Caps’ bench for another four to six weeks.
So now that another frenzied trade deadline has passed, George McPhee can hopefully breathe a sigh of relief and sit for a spell. Meanwhile the newcomers have to quickly acclimate to the Caps’ systems with less than 20 regular season games left. To all of the new Capitals – welcome to Washington; we’re sure you’re gonna love it here!