1) Word from several FAUXRUMORS sources have informed us that the Washington Caps are indeed VERY interested in upgrading their center position. Now, that alone is not news and would NOT have made us write a post, but the names that they dropped certainly got our attention.
2) As with about 10 other teams the Capitals are looking to acquire a 1st line center. Most press reports so far have centered(sorry) around impending UFA's such as Drury, Gomez, or Briere. However, the sources have told us that GM, Goeoge McPhee feels that the market is such that it would be a gamble to expect that any of the top line centers would be available come July 1st. Also, the price in such a sellers market will be prohibitive( 7-8+ mil/year)
3) To that end we're told, that McPhee is already exploring trade options to get 'his man'. Ideally at or near draft day, before the free agency period even commences. Who will George look to get? We're told that the Sharks may be looking to move one of their top line centers. Either Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton. Why? For starters the Sharks GM Doug Wilson believes his team underachieved the last couple of years in the playoffs. Secondly BOTH Marleau AND Thornton will be UFA's next summer and its very unlikely the team could afford to retain both. With that possible distraction(see Buffalo this past year) hovering, Wilson wants to be proactive if he can get back something(s) that will help the team.
4) What will/has George offered? We're told he will dangle the 5th overall pick and an active roster player or two. We're told that Caps would be willing to part with young defensemen Steve Eminger and possibly another defensive prospect. If talks appear to stall, McPhee has permission to offer left wing Alexander Semin. Our sources tells us that 'Semin would HAVE to be thrown in to get the deal into even the serious discussion stages.' The Russian had a break out season this past year, posting numbers that even surprised the Caps, netting 38 goals.
5) Semin on any other team would be the first line LW. However with another Alex roaming that side of the ice, Semin was relegated to second line status. Despite that, and not having a real NHL center, the 22 year old still managed to flirt with the 40 goal plateau. He also comes cheaply at 1.2 mil next season. The same could be said of Marleau. On any other team he's the number one pivot, but with Big Joe, he's the second fiddle. He did mange 78 points, but that paled to Joe's 114! However in the playoffs Joe has NOT exactly been Mr. Production. Scoring an anemic 9 goals in 58 playoff games!
6) So who would/will SJ trade? Well, its no guarantee either will go, but the source in California tells FAUXRUMORS2 that Thornton would be the one most likely to go if one is dealt. His higher salary and lack of playoff production would be the tipping points. However we were cautioned that deals of this magnitude are NOT sure fire done until the final announcement. As things are still in the early stages, things are far from set, but the discussions are on going, and could persist into the summer if the Caps don't get a deal done at the draft and/or don't land a top flight center from the UFA class.
7) There are a few more rumors flying around that we promise to share as the days procede. As always, keep it here for the latest!