Why are you giving Nicklas Backstrom for Alex Galchenyuk, undervaluing Braden Holtby even if he is having a subpar season and Eller as the first line centre ahead of Kuznetsov as well as Smith- Pelly ahead of Gaalchenyuk.
Good questions. Salary cap management, lineup balance, and rules of thumb about line chemistry. I'm trading Backstrom for a 5th overall pick (CCG's idea). Galchenyuk doesn't even make up the difference in value, but yesterday when I threw in Juulsen and Lehkonnen, I was told it was too much, and that MTL needs a center, but also needs a lot of young, NHL-ready players, so I threw in a couple prospects and later picks going back their way, and decided Hershey is fine without Juulsen. Each is a UFA after two years, but Backstrom was top ten in voting for the Hart and Selke last year, and if he decides to test the market, he will have Tavares as a comparable. Montreal has cap space to extend him in a year, and he's not a selfish guy. I'm sure he'll take less than 9M. The Caps might not have that to give him, without making other moves, so they get it out of the way early and get a good prospect and an offensively gifted, defensively weak winger.
Eller is getting to be a decent playmaker, and a solid two way center, and just signed a five year extension. Whoever plays with Ovechkin gets a few extra points, so I was careful not to put Ovechkin on the ice with anyone I planned on re-signing during the rest of his current contract. Burakovsky and Kuznetsov have worked well together in the past. Lindholm-Vrana-Galchenyuk would lack experience and defensive awareness. DSP stabilizes them and gets them out of their own zone, and he wasn't bad in a middle six role in New Jersey... Wasn't good enough for them to finish out his contract, but wasn't awful. Moulson can add a bit of weak grit to the "fourth" line, which is really more of a 2nd line, anyway.
I think all of these lines get equal time, in all zones (although that third defensive pair gets 70% offensive zone starts), and this team wins a lot of games by about 6-3. I don't think they're any more of a contender than the Caps are this year, but I don't think they're any less of one, and they'd be a lot of fun to watch. Plus, with five first round picks in the next two years, including a couple high ones this summer, they'll have the best talent pool in the AHL by the time Ovechkin thinks about retiring, so they won't be forced to trade him away to start rebuilding.
I'm not convinced that Eller, Kuznetsov, or Lindholm can learn to pass to Ovechkin as well as Backstrom and Carlson do right now. So I kept Kuznetsov in his current spot on the power play and gave the other two a season to audiiton and learn half of Backstrom's role, each. Bowey was top ten in rookie scoring when he was sent to Hershey at the deadline. He needs to improve his defense, and he' s getting time to work on that, in the AHL now. On a long term deal, with good teachers, he can start to apprentice for a power play role, and in a year or two, replace Green on that top power play unit. When green retires, the Caps haven't had to renegotiate any more big contracts. Sharp has retired. Moulson has retired. Graovac, Barber, and Walker move up cheaply from Hershey. Burakovsky and Vrana get slight raises. That's about it. This team is built to last. If Ovechkin is still amazing at 36, they have cap space to give him a raise, or to sign some terrific complimentary players to work with him.
My first choice, if I ran the Caps, would be to trade for O'Reilly and Duchene, and have more center depth than the Penguins, and steal one cup from the middle of their dynasty. But the cost of those guys would break the Caps, long term, and they might still not win it all. So it would be smarter to get cheap, long-term, young, developing players all through the lineup, sell high on the guys who have done really well, get back a ton of great young prospects, and be there waiting to take over the East when the Pens get old and implode.
This year's draft is supposed to be pretty deep. Getting three or four guys in the first round, and still fielding a competitive team, would be pretty amazing.