Are the Capitals Giving Up on Eric Fehr?

Of the  12 Washington Capitals forwards that dressed for the team’s first three games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, just six have more expensive contracts than Eric Fehr.  Making $2.2 million a year through next season, Fehr is one of the most expensive healthy scratches in the Eastern Conference (and no that’s not including Wade Redden’s $6 million salary that the Rangers buried by sending him to the AHL).

The issue is, the Capitals have roughly $9 million in cap room for next season, and they still need to sign five forwards- including three scoring-line players in Jason Arnott, Marco Sturm and Brooks Laich.  Sturm is almost certainly going to be somewhere else next season, and if he does come back it will be at a fraction of his current $3.5 million cap hit.  Arnott will probably look into re-signing with Washington, but also at a lower price.  The real kicker is Brooks Laich, because his value as an NHL player has risen since his last deal.  Currently making just over $2 million, he’s in line for a raise, and the Caps still need to either re-sign or find replacements for Scott Hannan, Karl Alnzer and Semyon Varlamov.

Fehr’s contract is one that the Capitals need to think about, because $2.2 million is simply too much to be spending on a forward they don’t intend to play.  While it’s conceivable that he will regain his lineup spot once Sturm and potentially Arnott find new homes, the Capitals have a blue-chip forward prospect in Evgeny Kuznetsov, and he may be fighting for top-six minutes as early as next season.

Fehr is a talented offensive forward who can produce at the NHL level, as he tallied 21 goals a year ago- which is largely why he was rewarded with a two-year deal worth over $4 million last summer.  He has shown that he can produce in big games, as illustrated by his two-goal performance at the Winter Classic and his three goals in seven playoff games in 2010.

Unfortunately for the 25-year old, Fehr may need a change of scenery.  He has grown during his time with the organization, but is Eric Fehr ever going to be a top-six forward in Washington?  The answer isn’t clear, but it appears less and less likely with each game that he’s a healthy scratch for.  With his relatively pricey contract, and relatively low production, it may be best for both parties if Fehr is dealt to a team in need of scoring depth.

Simply put, Fehr is too expensive to keep in the press box night in and night out.  


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    Dude, you say that the Capitals may have to trade Fehr to a team in need of scoring depth. Well, all season long in MY mind, THE CAPITALS would be the very team most in need of scoring depth since–other than Ovechkin (who scored 20 fewer goals than we’re accustomed to seeing from him this past season)–this club has forgotten how to put the puck in the net. And please don’t bring up the inconsistent, out-to-lunch, good for nothing on defense,dumb-penalty-taking Alex Semin. One game he’ll look like a combination of Glenn Anderson,Denis Savard and Jarri Kurri and then the next eight games he’ll look like the Second Coming of Elmer Fudd.

    Fehr is a young power forward. He loves playing the game down low and has good hands. Really good ones–so help me John LeClair–don’t grow on trees, and often take a few years before they grow into their bodies and their production begins to approximate their ability. Dustin Byflugien splits time between the blue line and power forward. Do you think the Chicago Blackhawks miss what he once gave them right now?

    I hope Bruce Boudreau comes to his senses and starts running Eric out there again. But I’m not optimistic. After all, this is a coach who–for years–thought his team could shoot its way to the Stanley Cup. Then once he came to his senses and began to insist that his forwards fore check,back check and pinch (or was it the fact that a team that scored 313 goals last year suddenly developed amnesia when it came down to scoring and therefore forced Bruce’s hand) he made the odd decision to send his most fundamentally sound (and effective) goaltender packing to Hershey (Braden Holtby–he of the .934 save percentage12-2 recordtwo shutouts and a Player of the Week award). I’ve often thought Double B was an idiot who lucked into a team with an abundance of scoring punch (at least through the end of last year)–very much like Dennis Green back when he coached the Minnesota Vikings’ high scoring–but fundamentally undisciplined and defensively challenged–teams back when they had Chris Carter, Robert Smith, Randy Moss, Jake Reed et al…

    Let’s see how far Bruce gets in this year’s playoffs. Another early exit and Caps fans may not have to worry about it anymore…