For the past few seasons the Washington Capitals have been one of NHL’s premiere teams. But one thing has been missing from the team since their rise to power (besides a Stanley Cup); a second line center. The Capitals think they’ve found their man in Brooks Laich.
A veteran of 9 seasons with the Capitals organization, Laich will look to do what guys like Brendan Morrison, Jason
Arnott, Mike Ribeiro, and Eric Belanger couldn’t do. A 6th round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2001, Laich was traded to Washington with a 2nd round pick for Capitals legend Peter Bondra. His first full season in the Capitals system saw him and the Hershey Bears capture their first Calder Cup since 1997. Since then the Wawota, Saskatchewan (and yes that’s as small as it sounds) has been one of the best two-way players on this Caps team scoring 20+ goals in three straight seasons (2007-2009).
Many believed, including myself, that the Capitals would go outside of their system to find the answer with names like Derek Roy and Mikhail Grabovski and even Mason Raymond. However all dreams of Roy dawning a Red jersey were crushed when he inked a deal with the St. Louis Blues. Dreams of seeing Grabovski or any other big name free agent were also wrecked when General Manager George McPhee told this to the media on Monday:
We didn’t think it was a great class of players. Not a great pool of players to invest in, so we didn’t. There were a couple of players we had interest in, but when the numbers get the way they were going in terms of salary or term, we stayed away. We didn’t really make any offers, we just knew where they were going. Usually the issue is the term. Salary you can compete with, but when people get into term that’s too long, you can ultimately hurt your competitiveness down the road. We try to avoid that.”
When asked about the position and what it takes to play it, McPhee stated:
For now, and until 2017 when Laich’s contract is up, Brooks Laich is the Washington Capitals 2nd line center. There’s no doubt in mine, or anyone’s mind for that matter that Laich can play, but can he be that offensive contributor that he was during that three year span of 20+ goals? If not, look for Washington’s center woes to get bigger and bigger. something that’s continued to happen since the departure of Sergei Federov.
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