Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Knuble,  Alexander Semin

Capitals’ trade deadline plan is quite cloudy


Losing to the Carolina Hurricanes is one thing; totally falling on your face in a nationally televised game is another. As close as the Washington Capitals are to a playoff spot, one could argue that they’re the most depressing team not located in the NHL’s basement.*

The Caps have dealt with some significant injuries, which prompts some to call for reinforcements. CSNWashington’s Chuck Gormley asks a sobering question, though: should GM George McPhee even consider his team “sellers” instead?

So McPhee must ask himself this question: Is it time to unload soon-to-be unrestricted free agents Mike Knuble, Alex Semin and Dennis Wideman before they flee somewhere else on July 1?

Or should he keep what he’s built, cross his fingers that center Nicklas Backstrom returns from his concussion and take his chances that the Caps go on a season-ending run that extends well into the postseason?

The first paragraph is what makes this situation so interesting. Washington has a bevy of high-profile free agents. It’s part of the reason that I wrote that McPhee should keep things together for one last run in the preseason (which already hasn’t come true with Bruce Boudreau’s firing).

One interesting omission from Gormley’s list is soon-to-be-free agent Mike Green, which might speak as much to his injury-rendered irrelevance than anything else. To me, McPhee likely needs to choose between Green or Wideman – if he wants one of the offensive blueliners. Going into this season, it seemed like Wideman could be classified as the poor man’s version of Green, but Green’s been so riddled with injuries you have to wonder if Washington might opt for Wideman.

(Tomas Vokoun’s also set to be a free agent, by the way.)

With all things in mind, should McPhee clean house, keep a handful of those players or just give everyone a chance to make it work? Share your armchair managing tips in the comments.

* – At least in the Eastern Conference; the Minnesota Wild present a similarly demoralized West representative.

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
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Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.