Brian MacLellan has said the Caps intend to upgrade their third line this offseason. This is part of our series looking at free agents who the Caps could potentially target.
Teddy Purcell is a utility player with strong possession numbers. Sounds good, right? He’s not much of a goal scorer, but he’s got a knack for play-making–and just take a look at the assists he’s racked up over the past few seasons. For the right price, Purcell could be a real asset to the Caps.
Courtesy of Own the Puck
This season, Purcell played 61 games with the Oilers before a late trade to the Panthers. In Florida, he played on–you guessed it–the third line with linemates Jiri Hudler and Nick Bjugstad. The trio developed fabulous chemistry. While in Edmonton, Purcell was a much-needed contributor offensively. He also demonstrated his versatility–one of the most useful traits he could bring to the Caps.
Purcell is capable of playing on both wings, and his production and possession indicate that he could jump around the Caps’ top nine. He averaged 16:50 of ice time per game. Purcell is a solid bet to produce at least 30 points, perhaps 40 with the right linemates. His career possession numbers are impressive, and he boosts his fellow players’ too.
But are Purcell’s versatility and production worth $4.5 million? Try again. For the right price, Purcell could add depth to the Caps’ forwards. But he’d need to take a big pay cut, as $4.5 million is just too steep. The Caps need to allocate their cap space efficiently.
Purcell’s special-teams contributions aren’t impressive, especially on the power play. He’d be a good candidate to fill in on the second power play unit in the event of illness or injury, but he shouldn’t be considered for a long-term role.
Purcell will turn 31 in September, which is typically a red flag–with good reason. At present, his speed isn’t exceptional, and he’ll likely slow down as the birthdays go by. But given his consistent play in previous seasons, there’s little reason to suspect that he’ll see an immediate dropoff in his production. As a Cap, Purcell would play with better linemates than he ever did in Edmonton. Purcell clicked with Hudler and Bjugstad in Florida, and the Panthers were rewarded mightily.
If Purcell can find his place among the Caps’ crop of middle-six players, he’d be a boon for the Caps. But the potential upside isn’t enough to merit a long-term deal. It’s best if the Caps keep things short and sweet, and their Cup-contending status will be a draw for Purcell (and provides incentive to take a major pay cut).
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