Good Friday morning, Caps fans. Well, it was a nice quiet week, eh?
The general consensus was that this offseason was going to be straightforward, with few major splashes made and a roster that had the core, key players back in Vancouver for training camp.
Well, that lasted until Wednesday evening, when reports surfaced from top MLS reporters that the club was on the brink of dealing Maxime Crepeau to LAFC for an admittedly large haul of General Allocation Money. The move was confirmed Thursday, as was the amount — $1 million in GAM for one of the best shot stoppers in the league.
The move was a shock, in no small part because there were no indications the club was looking to cash in on Crepeau’s strong performance last season, nor any signs of malcontent with French-Canadian.
It has since been reported that a personal, family matter prompted Crepeau’s desire to request the change. The Caps wisely complied and struck the deal with LAFC, who were the only ones, Axel Schuster said, who offered a reasonable price.
#VWFC Sporting Director, Axel Schuster, says the 'Caps were going to approach Maxime Crépeau to renew his contract, and were made aware of a 'very special personal situation', and from there, negotiations with LAFC started— Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic (@AlexGangueRuzic) January 21, 2022
He says this trade has nothing to do with money
Every indication is this a serious illness or issue in Max’s family that is not suitable for public consumption at this time, prompting an understandable desire to move elsewhere. I think all fans hope Max and his family stay well and I don’t think there will be any hard feelings — he will remain a hugely beloved figure and the reason why the club made the playoffs last season.
Still, I think there should be a good amount of confidence in Thomas Hasal, who has suffered really only in comparison to Crepeau — all indications are he is an average goalkeeper and at a much younger age than netminders get their MLS debuts.
His uneven performances can also be explained by uneven playing time, which will likely be resolved in short order. Sure, his floor isn’t as high as Crepeau but the potential is there, particularly if the Caps’ defense fares better, to see a minimal drop off in performance.
Still, with some Canadian keepers on the market (think: Milan Borjan), it wouldn’t surprise me if the team kicks the tires on some other options, if for no other reason than to give Hasal some cover.
The other question ultimately becomes what the club does with the $1 million in GAM, though it is weirdly dispersed over the next several seasons, which limits the club’s ability to go out and splash it on one major signing.
Potentially, the endgame could be to use the money (about $250K in GAM each year) to grab an international spot, which, when combined with the departure of Janio Bikel, could open up more doors for the Caps than an internal signing. Also Florian Jungwirth cost 200K in funny money, proving Schuster has a good eye for cheaper signings, undervalued elsewhere that can prove useful.
This is not to say that the entire situation doesn’t suck — it does. This is the worst possible timing for such a move to happen but, if the reasons for Crepeau’s move are as presumed, then it was something outside anyone’s control that prompted it.
I would rather support a club that worked with its players, particularly those who have served the club well. These types of situations will be noticed when trying to attract other players as well, as everyone naturally looks for a work environment where their wishes are respected and heard.
There is absolutely risk here for a drop off in performance at the keeper position. It is likely, particularly as Hasal gets settled as a number one. And LAFC getting a massive boost as they compete against the Caps in the western conference is a kick in the teeth.
This will be a test for the front office. Unlike in the past, I am confident they can handle it.
Shameless Self Promotion
Caleb Wilkins runs down his take on the move, including a defense of Hasal’s past performance
Best of the Rest
More on Crepeau’s departure from The Province
The confirmed roster for the Caps as training camp is officially underway
Old friend Doneil Henry is headed to Real Salt Lake on a non-roster invite for their preseason camp
A pair of billionaires are negotiating with MLS for an expansion side in Las Vegas
Diego Valeri is officially leaving MLS for Argentina. That means he can no longer hurt the Caps