After another up and down Caps season, there was a familiar smell of defeat in the playoffs, and another game 7 where a team filled with talent forgot to show up. You'll hear many take the easy route and bash the MVP Ovechkin, some may go in other directions and say the team lacked grit, or inexperience in net. Regardless of what people think the Caps like the other 29 teams that feel short of Lord Stanley had a lack of something. And this is the time of the year to fix those gaps.
Free Agency starts July 5th and the Caps have a few holes they need to fill. Whether they can do it by inking a player in free agency or by making a trade, the Caps are in need of another defenseman, and another top six forward (preferably a center). These are some free agents I would be interested in if I were the GM in the capital.
Damien Brunner- The 27 year old Swiss winger played his first NHL season last year with the Detroit Red Wings after playing his first eight professional seasons in the Swiss national league. In his first season Brunner put up solid numbers in the regular season (26 points in 44 games) as well as a solid performance in the post season (9 points in 14 games).
Brunner is a very skilled offensive forward, and has very good playmaking ability as well as being a solid shooter. he's a bit undersized, but makes up with it in his fast hands and skating ability. Brunner also always seems like he knows what he wants to do with the puck. He certainly isn't going to win any Selke trophies for his defensive play, but the Caps need top 6 scoring forwards and Brunner is a guy I wouldn't mind taking a shot at.
What's he worth? I'd be willing to give Brunner 3 years for 7.5 million (Cap hit of 2.5 million per year).
Andrew Ference- This rugged 34 year old defenseman won't wow you with his size, but Ference is a reliable and physical defender that has been on some very successful Boston Bruins teams, including one that won a Stanley Cup.
Like stated earlier at only 5'10 Ference may not intimidate with his size, but he plays a physical game and can break down his opponents. He also doesn't have a very long reach, but he always seems to play forwards very well whether it be on the rush, in the corners, or in settled situations. Ference's game isn't limited to his defensive prowess either. he is a good skater and is a solid passer from the blue line as well. He won't put up huge offensive numbers but he makes smart plays and gets the puck to open men. Ference is someone the Caps could really use on their blue line.
What's he worth? I'd be willing to give Ference 3 years for 9 million (Cap hit of 3 million per year).
Valtteri Filppula- Another Red Wing on the list, the 29 year old center has had a solid career thus far in Detroit, already winning a Stanley Cup. Filppula seemed to really be coming on after a huge season before the lockout, but then after his lack luster season this year some people are wondering what will come in the next few years for Filppula.
Filppula is a solid two way center with a very high hockey IQ. He is also an excellent skater and a very good passer. Filppula is very good in the faceoff circle and can be used on both the power play and penalty kill. The incredibly skilled forward has already shown he can put up big numbers, but can he do it consistently?
What's he worth? I'd be willing to give Filppula 2 years for 7 million (Cap hit of 3.5 million per year).
Rob Scuderi- This nose to the grindstone 34 year old defenseman has already won two Stanley Cups with two different teams (Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles). He led the L.A. Kings in blocked shots this year and is a solid sized defenseman who is all about hard work and winning games.
Scuderi is a prototypical defensive defenseman and really won't do much offensively. He'll block shots and get himself in the right position to make key plays on defense. But as of now with guys like Green, Carlson, and Orlov the Caps have some puck movers. They need guys who can be shutdown defensemen in their own end which outside of Alzner no one really is. Scuderi would greatly help the Caps on defense if signed. It wouldn't surprise me if Scuderi wins another cup in the next few years, hopefully he'll be with the Caps for his 3rd.
What's he worth? I'd be willing to give Scuderi 3 years for 11.25 million (Cap hit of 3.75 million per year).
Stephen Weiss- This 30 year old center from Florida has had some great years with less than top talent around him and doesn't get as much recognition as deserved playing in Florida. He was steadily putting together some great seasons with the Panthers, but didn't have a great year this year due to injury.
Weiss plays a solid two way game and is a solid skater who gets himself into high scoring areas. A former 4th overall pick Weiss really is the complete package. He's a very skilled player, plays excellent defense, and plays with a ton of grit by blocking shots and finishing off checks. He's a player any coach would love to have. and a player I know Adam Oates would love to coach.
What's he worth? I'd be willing to give Weiss 2 years for 8 million (Cap hit of 4 million per year.