With Braden Holtby firmly entrenched as the backup goalie for the Washington Capitals, the team has a bit of a dilemma with Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth is earning more money than the man he is backing up, has established that he can be a starter in the NHL and would bring back a significant haul in any trade. Despite this the Capitals have maintained that they will not trade Neuvirth, and in the process could be making a decision that could comeback to bite them in the future.
But with time still remaining before the opening of training camps what the Capitals should be doing finding a team that wants to trade for Neuvirth, and in the process doing a beneficial deed for both parties.
A move would give Neuvirth the chance to start for an NHL team instead of being relegated to the backup duty that saw him play in 13 games during the 2013 season. No player in the NHL truly wants to be a backup, and Neuvirth could not be expected to be any different. Proving yourself at the highest level is always the goal of the most talented players in the world, and it is expected that Neuvirth would at least want to see if he could replicate the 27-12-4 record and 2.45 GAA when given a chance to be the Capitals starting goalie.
In addition to giving Neuvirth a chance to prove himself as a starter again, starting consistently would also give him a chance to compete for the goaltenders job with the Czech Republic Olympic Team that will be playing in Sochi in February. With his main competition being the aging Tomas Vokoun and a the average-at-best Ondrej Pavelec, just getting regular games could be the difference in becoming the Czech’s starting goalie.
Meanwhile, the Capitals can expect to receive a good amount of compensation in exchange for Neuvirth. The team received a first and second round pick when they traded Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche during the summer of 2011, signifying that they could expect at least a second round pick in exchange for Varlamov. While this may not seem like a lot, when considering that in the last five seasons Justin Faulk, Brandon Saad, Travis Hamonic and Derek Stepan were all drafted in the second round it is clear that this round can provide very good value.
In addition to what the Capitals would be getting in return for Neuvirth is what good it would do for the morale of Holtby. During the 2013 regular season Holtby established himself as the starting goaltender of the future for the Capitals, posting a 23-12-1 record in 36 games during the regular season before posting a stellar 2.22 GAA in the team’s seven game series loss to the New York Rangers. By trading Neuvirth, the team would be making a statement that Holtby is the man of the future by taking out the ever looming fear that he could be replaced with one bad game. This would take away the possibility of the buildup of friction within the locker room when things are going bad, and relieve a potentially bad situation before it even begins.
In the end the trade of Neuvirth would be best for him and the Capitals as each side would be getting good value out of the trade and avoiding a potentially bad situation in the long run. The sooner that the Capitals figure this out, the better.