Caps add Jagr, but lose some great young talent

By Rick Davis
The Washington Capitals traded Kris Beech, Michal Sivek, and Ross Lupaschuk, along with future considerations to Pittsburgh for Jaromir Jagr and Frantisek Kucera. While this trade is great for the Caps right now, it depletes their prospect pool and may come back to haunt them when Jagr’s contract expires in two years. The Caps get a player like Jagr without giving up any current roster players.

Here’s an attempt to put into perspective what the Capitals lost and how big of a hole it puts in their system of prospects.

Kris Beech probably had the most potential upside of any Capitals prospect. He’s a great passer and he should develop into a first or second line center. He was pencilled in to Portland to play in the AHL next year, as he would probably benefit from more ice time in the AHL as opposed to limited opportunities as a rookie in the NHL.

Going in to this summer it looked like Michal Sivek would be the prospect who would make the Caps out of camp, and he could be on the Penguins next fall. If the Penguins trade Jan Hrdina or Robert Lang, Sivek has an even greater chance of making the team. However, it is likely that Michal would also benefit from a year in the AHL, perhaps two.

In Beech and Sivek, the Caps lost two of their top three forward prospects. It’s important to remember that Washington is playing in a division with young teams who are able to build with great players acquired with high draft picks (such as Kovalchuk and Lecavalier). Because of building division rivals and the fact that they have a relatively old team, Washington could be in trouble in three or four years. Certainly, Washington now has a big hole as far as projected top-line scorers and playmakers up front, and Portland may feel it next year.

Losing Ross Lupaschuk hurts, but at least the Caps have a projected power play quarterback of the future to replace him in Nathan Paetsch. Also, Sergei Gonchar is still relatively young and it’s not expected that he will be traded anytime soon. Lupaschuk was also pencilled in to the AHL for next year, Portland could have used his bombs from the point.

Even without Lupaschuk, Portland should be very deep on defense next year, especially with players such as Yonkman and Cutta potentially being added as rookies. However, the Caps will have to sign some veteran forwards in order to put together a competitive squad in Portland. As far as the situation in goal, the Caps will likley let Robert Muller compete for the job along with Charpentier and possibly Rastislav Stana, and they could sign a veteran netminder if things don’t go smoothly.

Meanwhile, several Capitals prospects have become Unrestricted Free Agents : Derek Bekar, Stefan Ustorf, Steve Shireffs, and Erik Wendell. Former Pirates Mike Peluso, Steve Poapst, Nolan Baumgartner, and Matt Herr are also unrestricted free agents.