The Washington Capitals made a flurry of moves Thursday for what may be just the start of a very busy couple of weeks for GM George McPhee as the NHL trade deadline approaches.
The move with the most obvious impact was sending forward Cody Eakin down to AHL Hershey and recalling forward Keith Aucoin. Aucoin, 33, leads the AHL in points (70) and assists (59) with 11 goals in 43 games with Hershey this season. Aucoin in only 30 assists shy of matching the AHL record for assists in one season. He’s a seasoned AHL playmaker and right now, the Caps can use all the veteran help they can get.
Eakin, 20, has four goals and four assists in 29 games with the Capitals this season. A widely heralded prospect, Eakin just hasn’t been able to get on a run with the Caps, and recently has been helming the fourth line, getting around six minutes a game under Coach Dale Hunter. At this point in his development, it’s better for him to be playing every day at Hershey getting plenty of playing time.
The switch starts to address one of the major needs for the Capitals, though it still perpetuates another. The Caps are getting very shaky contributions from their centers and Aucoin brings a more seasoned game than Eakin right now. Unfortunately, it’s not just on the offensive end the Caps need help with regard to their center position. On defense, the center has to act as a third defenseman, and Aucoin is small in stature (listed at 5’11, 170) as are fellow centers Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault.
It’s not a perfect fit, but the Caps need to try everything at their roster disposal until they decide to get into the market for a second line center.
The Capitals also made a pair of minor league trades Thursday. In one, they sent RW Matt Ford to Philadelphia in exchange for 22-year old defenseman Kevin Marshall. Marshall recorded five points (two goals, three assists) for AHL Adirondack this season and appeared in 10 NHL games for the Flyers, collecting eight penalty minutes. He was a second round pick (41st overall) in the 2007 entry draft for Philly.
In the other deal, the Caps acquired center Mike Carman from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Danny Richmond. Carman, 23, scored six points (three goals, three assists) for the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL. Carman was a third round pick (81st overall) of Colorado in the 2006 entry draft.
Both players will report to AHL Hershey. Marshall gives the Caps a little more blue-line depth in the organization.
Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Capitals coverage on Twitter @CapitalsDSP.