Is Poti really worth the money?
By Kareem El-Alaily
Tom Poti? While there was some good news from the past week – the Caps opened camp strong, Michael Neuvirth signed a two-year deal, and HBO's Hard Knocks is going to showcase DC’s best-kept entertainment secret (Matt Bradley) this winter -- it’s all overshadowed by one move the Caps made: signing Tom Poti to a 2-year, $5.75M extension. I don’t get it. I like the guy and respect his game, but why would the Caps sign someone who is supposed to be a fifth defenseman next year for $3M?!? He’s good 5-on-5 but is not going to play on the PP and is not exceptional on the PK.
What bothers me most is not the overpayment, but that it hamstrings the Caps in their pursuit to land a nasty, shut-down defenseman that is desperately needed. How would they afford it? The Caps can’t keep a $3M Poti as our 6D – that’s salary cap suicide. Lest you think Tom Poti would be trade bait -- well -- not at $5.75M for two years. The only way I can see us landing an impact defenseman is if we trade Schultz or Alzner, and we know George McPhee loathes trading away young, cheap assets.
So unless McPhee pulls a rabbit from his hat – and I’m not holding my breath – we’re staring at Green, Schultz, Alzner, Carlson and Poti as our top 5 defenseman for the next two years. Certainly not a bad group -- they’re great at moving the puck, setting tempo and are positionally sound -- but we’re still sorely lacking in physicality and shut-down prowess. The Flyers and Penguins aren’t exactly going to stay away from the crease now that Tom Poti is re-signed.
Jersey Talk: I’ve been making a habit of referencing fellow blogger Nicole Wiessman’s posts and I can’t help but comment again on her latest set of blogs about player jerseys. Wearing a jersey indicates the type of player you appreciate. Wear a “Backstrom” jersey and you personify the sublime slickness of #19; wear an old school “Hunter” sweater and it screams toughness and grit; wear a “Brashear” jersey and we know where your interests lie; wear an Ivan “Majesky” jersey and it means you’re related to him; wear a “Semin” jersey and, well, it means you like scoring pretty goals and letting others do the dirty work. (Whoops – I’m getting carried!)
I have a Mike Green jersey that I bought in 07-08. I don’t wear it anymore. He’s a points-first guy and that isn’t my style. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player and the NHL’s best offensive defenseman but I personally prefer the grinders over the glory-hounds. If I were to buy another jersey it would be Matt Bradley’s #10 (limited skill but huge heart) or ex-Cap Quintin Laing #53 (no skill, all heart, all the time). If the Laing decision perplexes you just remember the guy blocked a shot with his face and skates every shift like it’s his last. If certain players on our team had a tenth of his heart we’d have cruised past Montreal last year. (Whoops – I just ended another paragraph with another swipe at #28…gotta stop!)
Capitals Cup: I’d love to see someone resuscitate the dormant idea of having a DC-area college hockey tournament, one that would include any of the following schools in an 8-team knockout: Maryland, UMBC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Navy, Georgetown, GW, George Mason, JMU, Radford and Catholic -- all teams that are either local or have a large local presence on their team. It would be a good way to build up awareness of the local college game and would be a fun experience for the players and fans. Perhaps the Caps can take a cue from their rivals to the south and sponsor this tournament, much like those rascals in Carolina do to sponsor the Canes Cup, which annually pits Duke, UNC, NC State and one rotating member in a 4-team knockout tournament. There are other local tournaments, such as the Richmond-based four-team Commonwealth Cup, which pits Virginia schools against one another. Navy also hosts the four-team Crab Pot tournament, showcasing Maryland schools. But the DC Area could use its own tournament. There would certainly be a lot of interest in it.
Although Virginia Tech and Navy fans may disagree, my bet for this year’s winner would be UMBC.
Box Seats blogger
| September 30, 2010; 3:55 PM ET
Categories: Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily | Tags: Capitals, Tom Poti
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