Could Dave Steckel be the Caps player to be traded?

davesteckel2.jpgThe recent fun with the drama surrounding Eric Belanger’s impending re-signing with the Washington Capitals is that it’s created the more intriguing stir about what move the Capitals are going to make to help Belanger better fit into the fold. While initial rumor mongering suggested that Tomas Fleischmann could be the guy heading out of town, Capitals blog Japers Rink has someone else in mind to ship out of town should the Caps need to do it. J.P. suggests that David Steckel is the guy being eyeballed by Caps GM George McPhee.

Belanger, [Mathieu] Perreault, [Marcus] Johansson, [Brooks] Laich and Fleischmann are probably all in the running for the second-line center spot (in varying degrees) at present, with one of Laich and Flash also as potential top-six wingers. No matter how that shakes out, Belanger, Laich and Fleischmann are locks for second or third line spots, with Alexander Semin also a second-line lock and Eric Fehr sure to be a top-nine forward. That leaves four forward spots (likely the third-line center and the entire fourth line) up for grabs, with Johansson the most likely candidate for the third-line center spot and Perreault, Gordon, Steckel, Matt Bradley and D.J. King fighting for three positions (to say nothing of a Hershey guy like Jay Beagle or Andrew Gordon making a bid). That’s quite the logjam on the back end.

So if the Caps had their choice of whom to move from that surplus of checking forwards, who would they want to trade? Perreault has value as a fill-in on a higher line, especially if prized prospect Johansson isn’t quite ready for the NHL. Bradley is a heart-and-soul leader, with a manageable contract – one year, $1 million. Gordon really stepped up his game in the playoffs last spring, but more importantly has a good deal – one year, $800,000. The Caps actively sought out King last month, so it surely wouldn’t be him.

That leaves David Steckel, a fine enough fourth-liner (though be careful not to overstate the importance of a good faceoff percentage – see here, here and here), but with a bad contract, one that will pay him $1,100,000 in each of the next three seasons. It’s not a cripplingly bad deal, of course, but rather one that’s tough to love for a guy whose game regressed in 2009-10 (I strongly recommend re-reading his Rink Wrap) and who was a healthy scratch in four of the seven playoff games, when cheaper checkers like Blair Betts (and Boyd Gordon) seem to be available every summer.

With that sort of contract for Steckel, it makes a ton of sense to want to potentially deal off the face-off specialist fourth liner. After all, if you’re making over a million dollars, playing a handful of minutes doesn’t quite make that financial investment worthwhile, especially on a fixed budget like the salary cap. Swapping out Steckel to a team looking for a player of his caliber (checking center, great with face-offs) looking to move a player with a larger salary can work for the Caps. The Caps aren’t in immediate danger of the salary cap and could stand to take on something a little bit bigger in return provided it’s not a long term contract. So who could that mean they’d be interested in?

Could the Caps expect to get much of anything in return for Steckel? Probably not, unless they found a potential trade partner who was looking to unload a moderate salary to free up some cap space… which is where a team like Vancouver comes in. Say they move the oft-rumored Kevin Bieksa for Steckel. The ‘Nucks save $2.65 million of cap hit (coincidentally, nearly the exact amount of salary they need to drop, per CapGeek), move a player from a position of overflowing depth, and better their bottom-six forwards. The Caps, in such a move, would upgrade their defense, move a player from a position of overflowing depth, be out from under Steckel’s deal for the next three years, and pick up an affordable – and expiring – deal in Bieksa. Because it rids the team of a bad contract, a deal like that makes sense for the Caps in a way that signing Willie Mitchell doesn’t (though, to be sure, a Mitchell signing makes sense in numerous ways this hypothetical would not, namely providing more of what the Caps need on the ice).

And, boom, you’ve got yourself a deal that makes sense for both parties involved money-wise.

There is a catch here though. The Canucks have added Manny Malhotra who is a more talented version of Steckel and also making a bit more money as well. Malhotra figures to be the team’s third line center while Rick Rypien could be the guy that holds down the fourth line. Rypien is a scrapper unafraid to drop the gloves if need be and an ideal energy line brand of player. If the Canucks are that eager to move some money off the cap, and they do have a surplus of defensemen even with Sami Salo out with an injury, taking on Steckel would only help them out with forward depth.

This is all idle speculation and trade-crafting at its best, but this is a situation where one often rumored player-to-be-traded fits into the needs of what another newly rumored player-to-be-traded can do for the other team.

Scroll Down For:

    NHL on NBCSN: Penguins host Flyers as chase for top spot in Metropolitan continues

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    The second game on the NBC networks on Sunday will feature Keystone state rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

    Puck drop is at 7 p.m. ET, and you can catch all of the action on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.

    The Penguins, currently in a three-team race (along with the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets) for the Metropolitan Division crown, are still dealing with a mountain of injuries that has them playing without Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel, Carl Hagelin, Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta, and Ron Hainsey. Even with that injured list they are still finding a way to collect points in the standings and enter Sunday’s game with an 8-1-3 record over their past 12 games.

    They enter the day three points back of the Capitals for the top spot in the division and the entire league.

    They have dropped two consecutive games in a shootout and are looking to avoid what would be their first three-game losing streak since January (it is also their only three-game losing streak of the season).

    Given that they have been without their second best player, pretty much an entire top-four on defense (including their No. 1 defenseman), and a couple of other key forwards this has been an incredible run over the past few weeks. It speaks not only to the depth of the organization, but also to the way the top players, specifically Sidney Crosby, have been able to carry the team through the injuries in recent weeks.

    Crosby has eight goals and 12 points over the past eight games alone as he tries to secure his second goal scoring crown and keep pace with Connor McDavid in the Art Ross race.

    On Sunday evening the Penguins will wrap up their season series with the Flyers and are looking to win it. The Penguins won the first two meetings of the season, including a 4-2 win in the Stadium Series at Heinz Field back in February. The Flyers however won the last meeting, shutting out the Penguins 4-0 in Philadelphia earlier this month.

    While the Penguins are competing for the top spot in the NHL, the Flyers are simply looking to salvage something from a season that has turned into a pretty big disappointment after appearing to be trending in the right direction back in December when they put together a 10-game winning streak. Since that winning streak however the Flyers have gone just 15-22-5 and are going to miss the playoffs for the second time in three years and the third time in the past five.

    The one bright spot for the Flyers this season has been the play of power forward Wayne Simmonds who is just one goal away from recording his second straight 30-goal season.

    NHL on NBC: Wild look to bounce back after embarrassing loss

    Getty
    4 Comments

    With losses in 10 of their 13 games so far in the month of March the Minnesota Wild are fading during the stretch run of the 2016-17 season.

    It is a slump that has almost certainly cost them the Central Division crown (something they seemed destined to win as recently as a month ago) and has caused some concern with the playoffs just around the corner.

    Things seemed to only get worse on Saturday when they were embarrassed on home ice by the Vancouver Canucks, a defeat that prompted coach Bruce Boudreau to pretty much rip into his team’s effort.

    The only good news is they do not have to wait long to get back on the ice and get rid of the sour taste that effort left.

    They will be making their final trip to Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon when they visit the Detroit Red Wings. All of the action can be seen on NBC or via our Live Stream. Puck drop is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET.

    While the Wild, a team that is headed to the playoffs and had been in contention for a division crown, is playing some of its worst hockey of the season right now, the Red Wings, a team going nowhere this season with nothing to play for, has put together a nice little run in recent weeks with a 3-1-1 record in its past five games, collecting seven out of a possible 10 points. Henrik Zetterberg, still the team’s best player even at age 36, has been playing especially well for the Red Wings over the last quarter of the season, collecting 30 points in his past 26 games. That includes five multi-point games in the month of March alone.

    After Saturday’s loss to Vancouver the Wild now find themselves eight points back of the Blackhawks in the standings with eight games to play. This after the Wild held a five-point lead over the Blackhawks (with a game in hand) when the month of March began. That is a massive swing in the standings in a very short period of time, and will likely result in Boudreau failing to win a division title for just the second time in his career as an NHL coach.

    Still, the Wild know they are going to the playoffs (they actually clinched a spot on Saturday, even with the loss to Vancouver) and they know they are now likely to be the second place team in the Central Division and get a first-round matchup with either the Nashville Predators or St. Louis Blues. Still, this is not the way they want to be heading into the playoffs.

    They would probably like to start getting things back in the right direction on Sunday.

     

    Flames win in OT, setting up a four-team race for Pacific Division title

    Getty
    1 Comment

    ST. LOUIS (AP) Sean Monahan likes working overtime. The Calgary Flames forward proved it again Saturday night.

    Monahan scored with 3 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Flames past the St. Louis Blues 3-2. Troy Brouwer and Matt Bartkowski also scored for the Flames, who improved to 13-4 in overtime this season. Brian Elliott made 29 saves.

    Monahan’s winning goal deflected off of Blues forward Kyle Brodziak. It was his third goal in his last four games.

    “You never know, when you throw pucks at the net, anything can happen,” Monahan said. “That’s a good bounce, a lucky bounce and we’ll take it.”

    Monahan set the Flames franchise record with the seventh regular-season overtime goal of his career. He also has seven career shootout winners.

    Flames coach Glen Gulutzan didn’t know what happened at first immediately after the game-winner.

    “I jumped when everybody else jumped and it was kind of like, I didn’t get the joke, right?” Gulutzan said. “Everybody got the joke, I didn’t. I just jumped because I saw everybody else jump. So now I’ve got to take a look at it now.”

    Ivan Barbashev and Jaden Schwartz scored for the Blues, who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Jake Allen made 28 saves and all three goals he gave up went off of teammates.

    “You feel bad for Jake when he played the way he did,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “If you give up three goals off your own guys, it means probably, for the most part, you’re doing a good job defensively. Some tough bounces there, but we got a point out of it.”

    The Blues fell one point behind Nashville for third in the Central Division with 86 points and eight games to go. St. Louis trails Calgary by two points for the top wild-card spot.

    The Flames snapped a two-game skid, salvaging the finale of a three-game road trip.

    “It was a quick-paced game and it was pretty physical and it was back and forth all night, but we feel good right now and we’re both fighting to stay in the playoffs and it was a big win for our team,” Monahan said.

    Schwartz gave the Blues a 2-1 lead at the 7:16 mark of the third period. The puck went off of Schwartz’s skate and the goal was upheld after a review.

    Bartkowski tied it at 10:53. It was the first goal in 17 games this season for the Flames defenseman.

    Brouwer’s power-play goal gave the Flames a 1-0 lead with 2:49 left in the first period. It snapped an 0-for-12 scoreless streak with the man advantage for Calgary.

    Elliott stopped all 13 shots in the opening frame, including two quality chances by Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo on a Blues power play.

    Elliott improved to 4-1 all-time against his former team, including a 2-0 mark this season.

    “I mean, obviously, you’d like to give up no goals there and I thought it was a blatant kicking motion (by Schwartz), but you’ve got to get points somehow in this league,” Elliott said. “It was big to solidify one point and then to go after the next one.”

    Barbashev tied it at the 8:08 mark of the second period. Colton Parayko‘s pass drew Elliott out of position and Barbashev, on his second try after his first was blocked by a Calgary defender, put the puck in the empty net.

    “After the first off the legs of the D or someone, I saw the puck was going back and I wasn’t for 100 percent sure that someone was going to be there, but I got lucky,” Barbashev said.

    Sharks coach DeBoer wasn’t happy with Jarnkrok hit that preceded Haley match penalty

    7 Comments

    San Jose Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer weighed in on Micheal Haley‘s sucker punch on Calle Jarnkrok in the third period of Saturday’s game.

    Haley was given a match penalty for the incident. He was hit into the boards by Jarnkrok and immediately retaliated, dropping the Nashville Predators forward with one punch as a melee ensued.

    Jarnkrok was penalized for boarding on the hit.

    DeBoer had an interesting take on the incident.

    “When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” he told reporters.

    The Sharks have now lost six in a row, after a 7-2 defeat to the Predators. The Oilers defeated the Avalanche on Saturday, which puts San Jose into a three-way tie with Anaheim and Edmonton at 91 points for first place in the Pacific Division.

    In two games this weekend versus Dallas and Nashville, the Sharks were outscored 13-3.

    It gets worse.

    Per CSN Bay Area, forward Logan Couture was taken to the hospital after he took a puck to the mouth and lost a tooth late in the second period.

    “You can’t replace him, so it would be really tough,” said Patrick Marleau of Couture. “But if that is the case, then guys are going to have to pull up the slack. Definitely we hope he’s back sooner.”