As with all trades, the Tuesday deal that sent defenseman Scott Hannan to the Washington Capitals and left winger Tomas Fleischmann to the Colorado Avalanche has to be examined and judged by its current and future implications.
In the present and short-term, it’s fair to say both sides benefit.
In Hannan, the Caps are getting a blueliner whose best days are behind him. He’s only 31 years old, but when an NHL coach was asked about him last year, the coach rolled his eyes and said Hannan was “nowhere close to the player he was in San Jose.”
That said, Washington’s unproven (at least, playoff-wise) defense corps can’t help but have its depth and toughness improved by Hannan’s addition. And the financial impact is negligible: Hannan earns $4.5 million this year, but is an unrestricted free agent this summer. It is next to impossible he’d get anywhere close to that much to come back to the Capitals and they may need much or all of that cap room if they choose to retain Alex Semin.
But really, the Avalanche got the best player in this deal. In Fleischmann, they’re not getting a gritty two-way winger or franchise player – he was a healthy scratch for Washington twice this year – but he is still just 26 years old.
Given more minutes with players such as Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk and John-Michael Liles, Fleischmann will have every chance to prove he was on the tough end of a deep roster and can be much more than the 23-goal scorer he was for the Capitals last season.
Like Hannan, Fleischmann also will be a UFA this summer – but unlike Hannan, he has the ability and opportunity to make fans in Denver sit up and take notice.
In Washington, the best Hannan likely will be able to do is make fans not pay any attention to him (by not making defensive miscues). At this stage in his career, he doesn’t have the ability to make an impact on games the way Fleischmann, in theory, still does.
For that reason, I’m giving the long-term win to the Avs.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. Power Rankings appear Wednesdays, his blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
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