Is Tomas Fleischmann part of the problem?
Alexander Monaghan looks at the summer-long rumour surrounding Capitals winger Tomas Fleischmann.
When the Washinton Capitals re-signed center Eric Belanger, it was believed he would come at the expense of versatile forward Tomas Fleischmann. With only one year left before becoming an unrestricted free agent and other forwards like Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich needing to be re-signed, the man known in DC as Flash may be utilizing his super-speed for another team when the season starts.
Fleischmann broke the 20 goal plateau last season for the first time in his career and finished with 23 goals and 28 assists. Although he managed to put up nice totals he battled injuries like he has almost every year. His production in 69 games looks impressive, however six other forwards scored over 20 goals, with Flash only scoring more than third-line presence Eric Fehr.
His non-contact game and inability to work the corners make the Capitals even weaker come playoff time. For the third straight season the team failed to make a deep playoff run and it could be because of relying too much on finesse.
Nevertheless, the team simply cannot trade Semin or Mike Green, despite the charmin-soft game they play. Bruce Boudreau’s run-and-gun system feeds their consistent output so as long as they can put the puck in the net they will be excused. In summary, the Caps are forced to live and die by the sword with many of their more talented players.
But why should they accept the same of an injury prone, defensively challenged but skilled winger?
With all the skill keeping him would be a luxury. Filling the roster with tougher or more defensively responsible players like DJ King, Matt Bradley, Belanger and Jason Chimera could balance the team while allowing Fehr to play on a top-two line role.
Moving Fleischmann for a defenseman would be an excellent management of assets but the team looks to have another motivation to trade him.
According to Cult of Hockey, he is being shopped for either Sheldon Souray or Kevin Bieksa which honestly could be a bit more of the same. Replacing a soft but skilled forward for a defenseman could be even a lateral move which could block either John Carlson or Karl Alzner but would show that GM George McPhee feels his team’s best opportunity to win would be now with Semin and Laich still on board.
In short, Fleischmann is part of the problem but it is a problem the team still fails to see. Until the team has more balance, they look like another President’s Trophy winner and playoff exit– which bodes well for fantasy owners and not fans.
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