By Allan Muir
There are plenty of good reasons for gentlemen of culture to visit Washington this time of year: the museums, the Auto Show, Restaurant Week, the International Wine Festival. So it's possible that Mike Gillis and Lawrence Gilman were in D.C. for any or all of those and figured they'd stop in at the Capitals-Penguins game just to top off a fabulous weekend.
But probably not.
When scouts from a team at the center of every other trade rumor show up in another building on the opposite side of the country, it could mean anything or nothing. That sort of thing happens all the time.
But when the general manager and assistant GM show up, there's probably a very specific purpose for their visit.
And when that team is the Vancouver Canucks, a club that may or may not be interested in dealing goaltender Roberto Luongo, speculation is going to swirl about a swap of the All-Star goaltender to the Capitals.
Although the Caps haven't been mentioned in the past as a possible trade partner for the Canucks, they make a good pair. There's a growing sense that a window is closing on a group that has never quite lived up to the sum of its parts--that applies to both the front office and the guys on the ice -- and a big, splashy deal might be the last best chance for all concerned in Washington.
The Caps have talent up and down the roster, but they've been looking for an true No. 1 stopper ever since Olaf Kolzig hung up the pads. As good as Braden Holtby was in last year's playoffs, he's still a work-in-progress -- a point made clear by the six goals he allowed to the Penguins Sunday afternoon.
And with the team off to such a shaky start under new coach Adam Oates, tweaking the character mix in the room might be just as important as addressing a clear need on the ice.
So, what kind of package could Washington put together? They'd probably start with Holtby or Michal Neuvirth (the Canucks would likely want a goalie in return with AHL starter Eddie Lack out for the year) and add in former first rounder Marcus Johansson, a talented pivot who has struggled to find his game this season, but might benefit from the influence of the Sedins.
Beyond that, I could see both sides adding another piece or two to tailor the fit. The Canucks would probably like to add a physical presence like Troy Brouwer, but they'd need to add on their end to make that happen.