Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/11/11

Yes, it’s that time.  The time to recognize that for all the skill that George McPhee demonstrated in putting together this year’s team, he didn’t get it quite right.  Let’s look at some of the options:

Roman Hamrlik:  #44 came to the Capitals from Montreal, where he had 34 points in 79 games last year.  I’m sure he was viewed as a way to help increase the experience level of the Capitals’ blue lines, having played a total of 19 seasons in the NHL with five teams (with three breaks to play in the Czech League).  To date, he has only a single point in 13 games and the worst plus-minus stat on the Capitals roster.  He has been beaten a number of times and appears slow — at least to this correspondent.

Jeff Schultz:  #55 continues to be the Capital that most fans wonder about.  It’s not clear to most fans in the Verizon Center why he is still around.  He is clearly uncomfortable with the puck and appears to want to give it to anyone else — even the opposing team.  It’s terribly frustrating to watch him cough it up time after time.  He was one of Coach Bruce Boudreau’s ‘boys’ in Hershey, though, so there’s a good chance he’ll be around as long as Bruce remains in the saddle.

The problem for both of these two players, it’s not clear what sort of talent we’d get for them in a trade.

The obvious choice — or perhaps the elephant in the room that most Caps fans want to ignore — is Alexander Semin.  As alluded to in the report posted after opening night:

“Which Alexander Semin would we see — the hard charging and incredibly deft stick handler?  Or the guy who frequently appears to be along for the ride?”

Consistency has never been one of Semin’s long suits.  Opening night, by the way, he looked pretty good, scoring an incredible goal that totally faked out the opposing goalie.  He also, in typical fashion, had a blatant and unnecessary penalty for elbowing that night at the end of regulation that put Washington in a very deep hole at the beginning of the overtime period.  In this week’s embarrassing loss to Dallas, he had two blatantly obvious tripping penalties, necessitated by failure to skate.  He has the most minor penalties — nine in 13 games — of any Capital.  Of note, Roman Hamrlik (see above) has seven. Even Coach Boudreau commented on this issue and limited Semin’s ice time after the second penalty.  The problem with trading Semin is this:  To which team are you willing to give his offensive firepower?  Not an easy question to answer, but one that I predict will have to be answered before the end of the year?

Given the above; i.e. the Schultz connection to Boudreau, and Semin’s incredible potential which periodically shows itself, this correspondent believes that #44 Caps’ jerseys with “Hamrlik” stenciled on the back will be discounted in the merchandise store like those of all previously traded Capitals, most likely before the All-Star break.

Let’s Go Caps

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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