Hannan Handy to Have

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

We are now two full months into the 2010-11 NHL season. During those two months, the 30 NHL general managers have combined to make a total of two trades in which NHL players were both coming and going in the deal. The most recent of those swaps was a week ago today, when Caps general manager George McPhee sent forward Tomas Fleischmann to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for veteran defenseman Scott Hannan. Today, that trade looks even more timely as Washington will be without defenseman Jeff Schultz for the next 4-6 weeks. Schultz fractured his right thumb in Monday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Leafs. A healthy scratch on opening night of the 2009-10 season, Schultz finished the campaign with a plus-50 rating, tops in the NHL and easily the best single-season mark in franchise history. Last summer, he signed a four-year contract worth a total of $11 million. Along with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, Schultz is one of only three Capitals to be locked up through the end of the 2013-14 NHL season. Since coming into the league in 2006-07, the 24-year-old native of Calgary has carved out a greater role for himself on the Washington blueline while showing steady improvement. He averaged 18:12 in ice time as a rookie, a figure that ranked sixth among the team’s defensemen. Even as a freshman in the league, Schultz skated 3:13 per game while the Caps were shorthanded, good for fourth among the club’s defensemen. Schultz logged an average of 18:05 in 2007-08 – his first full season – and moved up to fifth among Washington rearguards that season. Although his shorthanded ice dropped ever so slightly to 3:10 per game, he ranked third among Caps defensemen. Schultz was also third among Caps defenders in blocked shots. Schultz’s overall ice time per game jumped to 19:45 per game in 2008-09, third most among the team’s defensemen. At 3:18 per night, his shorthanded time moved up to second on the team. Last season, Schultz led the team with 129 blocked shots in addition to leading it in plus/minus. He nearly cracked the 20-minute mark for the first time, averaging 19:51 per night in ice time. Although his shorthanded ice dropped to 2:38 per game, it was still second among Washington blueliners. In playing each of the first 29 games of the season, Schultz is third among the team’s defenseman with 21:26 per game. His 3:30 in nightly shorthanded ice is tops among the team’s defensemen and his 63 blocked shots are second most on the team and eighth in then league. Schultz is 17th among all NHL defensemen in shorthanded ice time per game this season. What will the Caps miss in Schultz’s absence? “His steadiness,” replies Caps bench boss Bruce Boudreau. “It’s amazing that people see on Jeff Schultz only that [because] he’s big he should be a crusher. But he gets the puck and he moves it. He makes the right play and his positioning is really good. Those things, you miss.” The Caps coughed up a three-goal lead in the third period on Monday night against Toronto, surrendering two goals in the final three minutes on their way to a 5-4 shootout loss to the leafs. Boudreau believes the outcome might have been different, if Schultz hadn’t broken his thumb blocking a shot in the first period. “Who’s to say, hindsight is 20/20,” laments Boudreau. “But who’s to say if he hadn’t gotten hurt, he probably would have been out in the last three minutes, probably for two and a half of those three minutes. Who’s to say what would have happened?” One thing is for sure, the Caps are fortunate that McPhee pulled the trigger on that Hannan deal last week. The price for landing defenseman in a deal in the NHL is steep enough, but it gets steeper when the other 29 general managers can see that you’re even more desperate to land one, with a top-three defender out of the lineup for a month or more. “The one good thing about that is you’ve got Hannan now,” says Boudreau, “who always leads his team in blocks and leads his team in shorthanded playing. It’s not ideal because you don’t have what you perceive as the lineup you want all the time on the ice. But at the same time, you’ve got a very valuable guy that we just made a deal for.”

next up:

Fehr Game

January 14, 2013

After scoring a career-high 21 goals last season, Caps right wing Eric Fehr is off to a slow start in 2010-11. Fehr scored twice in the season’s first three games, then went without a tally in his next nine. Seven games into that goalless streak, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau scratched Fehr for a game


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