Capitals not looking to unload Mike Knuble

SportsNet hockey analyst Brian Lawton suggests it might be beneficial for both Washington and forward Mike Knuble to part ways: the Capitals would clear some cap room for the deadline, while a change of scenery might have a positive effect on Knuble’s career.

Speculation of Knuble’s departure first started after the pending unrestricted free agent was made a healthy scratch for a third straight time — and a first in a decade — in a game against the San Jose Sharks earlier this week.

Knuble then told Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times Tuesday that if he isn’t part of the Capitals’ plans any more, it may indeed be time for both sides to move on.

You can be content and just sit there and let things happen as they may, or you can force an issue. You have to kind of decide that two weeks before the trade deadline. If a player is not going to be used or in the near future if you don’t have plans, then that player probably wouldn’t want to be there. That’s how we are in our league. You want to go somewhere where you’re going to play and you’re going to contribute to the team. And if you can’t do it in one place, then you’ve got to go.

Asked to clarify whether he has requested the Capitals to trade him, Knuble told Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington that was not the case.

I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. I just got through this weekend – we had three games in [five] nights — and we all saw what happened. It gets you thinking. We’re all competitive. We want to play and we want to contribute. If it’s not irritating you and you’re not thinking about your options, you might as well stop playing then.

Capitals general manager George McPhee confirmed to the media last Thursday (see video start at the 13:25 mark) that the veteran forward has asked for a trade. McPhee also stated that he doesn’t have any intentions of moving out the 39-year-old.

Mike has never asked for anything. We haven’t had any conversations, period. He’s a great pro, a great guy and we have no interest in trading him. He hasn’t asked for that and we haven’t talked to him about it.

McPhee said the three-game banishment was done to give Knuble a new perspective on the game that can help him out of his slum, rather than for other motives.

I don’t expect him to be happy. But sometimes the best thing you can do for a player is sit him down for a couple games. If things aren’t going right, it’s amazing how you can take a player out and put him upstairs and let him watch from where all of you watch and it looks easy from up there And I think it’s healthy for players to sit down and get a fresh perspective. And they’re almost always better when they come back.

Still, even after McPhee’s statement, rumors about Knuble’s future in Washington and possible destinations where he may land continued to swirl.

The HockeyCentral panel suggested that Knuble may not necessarily be at the top of teams’ whish list, but could be a plan B for teams like the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Toronto Maple Leafs who can use a veteran presence in their locker room.

Teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins (where head coach Dan Bylsma really liked Knuble’s game), Nashville Predators, and Detroit Red Wings could also use some playoff depth.

Joe Haggerty of CSNNE agrees that the 6-3, 227-pound Knuble would be a great fit for the Bruins. His gritty play and strong presence in front of the net would bring a definite value to the Bruins. Jack Edwards of NESN suggests that Knuble has fallen out of favor in Washington and could be had at a discount price if the Bruins feel he can still produce. Haggerty believes all it would take would be a third round draft pick.

Some reports have Knuble going to the San Jose Sharks where he’d be reunited with former Bruins linemate Joe Thornton, according to Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post. The Toronto Sun also sees a good fit for Knuble in San Jose.

For now, you have to take the Capitals GM at his word, that neither he nor Knuble, want the outcome of this little fiasco to end up with Knuble playing elsewhere.

However, a lot can change until the February 27 trade deadline. Teams become more desperate to load up for the playoffs that they may make the Capitals an offer they can’t turn down.

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Alin is the founder of iTalkHockey and Editor-in-Chief of RumorMeThis and RumorMeThat.
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