Shortly after announcing the Montreal Canadiens first round pick, Gary Bettman uttered some of the most exciting words any fan can hope to hear, “There has been a trade.” The trade took place between the Capitals and Blackhawks, with Washington sending the 26th overall pick (Phillip Danault) to Chicago in exchange for fourth-year pro Troy Brouwer.
While there is much opinion from both cities on the value of this trade, in this article we’ll focus on the good, the bad and the ugly from Washington’s perspective.
Brouwer is a tough player who plays bigger than his 6-foot-2, 214 pound frame.
In 2010-11 Brouwer led the Blackhawks in hits with 262, good for fifth in the NHL. On a team that with the highest volume hitting forward in the league (Alexander Ovechkin), Brouwer can add to that element and perhaps help the Caps become a more physical team. A team not easily taken off it’s game.
Along with good tenacity, Brouwer brings solid offensive skills and power play experience. Over the past three years the newest Capital has scored at least 25 points and at least ten goals, including five GWG this past year. Bruce Boudreau tweaks his lines when he’s not happy, the versatile Brouwer can play both wings and on both PP units. At any time Brouwer could be on a line with the Caps skilled players or their power forward wingers.
Washington has finished first in the Eastern Conference standings two years in a row. Only problem is they were ousted in the first and second rounds. Thus, the Caps are looking for an X factor that can fit their system and help them win the franchise’s first Cup.
Brouwer, who already tasted the glory, has the potential to be that kind of player. Intangibles are tough to evaluate on a team with both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Additionally, this draft class was known among experts to be weak. Especially, where the Capitals would have picked so they didn’t miss out on much with the first round selection.
Some of the best attributes a player can have are heart and aggressiveness. Brouwer is not known as a lazy player. The hit total tells you about his aggressiveness.
The flip side is, Brouwer struggles with discipline. While he only had 38 penalty minutes, his minus-2 would indicate questionable decision-making in the defensive zone. I don’t think there’s a need to tell Caps fans what happens when players lack discipline. However, Brouwer gained something from playing with such great players but is his personality big enough to be like a younger Jason Arnott or Mike Knuble? If it isn’t, is he any better than Eric Fehr?
Without high skating, Brouwer may have a tough time meshing off the rush. Ovechkin is a one and done sniper most of the time and so is Alexander Semin. Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson have the speed to keep up and make plays when the top lines break out.
If Brouwer’s line does not adopt a more zone-control style of play, his talents in front of the net could be wasted. Even the Caps’ third line winger, Jason Chimera, is known as one of the fastest players in the league.
Brouwer begins his service to the Caps with no contract. In fact, he has already filed for arbitration. Caps GM George McPhee said, “Arbitration is good because you get the deal done.” McPhee is also hopeful that a deal will get done before any proceedings. He commented that Brouwer’s agent does not frequently let negotiations get that far.
According to Capgeek.com, the number in question is $1.5 million. A bad deal with Brouwer could affect the re-signing of UFA Brooks Laich.
Time will always tell who got the better end of any trade.
On the surface, the Caps made a savvy move dropping a developmental pick for a starting NHL player. There is no reason to believe Washington would deviate from its well executed plan of acquiring assets. Except, there is a lot of pressure on management to win.
If Brouwer comes cheap, it’s definitely a steal. If not, we’ll have to wait till April to find out. Next week the Caps continue focusing on their own free agents.