Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post
The Washington Capitals are off to the best starts in NHL history, posting a 44-10-4 record through their first 58 games, good for 92 points. The Caps lead the NHL in goals/game and are second in goals allowed/game, which shows that the team not only possesses a lethal scoring attack, but also a very solid defense.
The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching, and there’s one big question surrounding the Caps: are they good enough to win the cup, or should they look to add another player for depth? NoVa Caps is taking a look at the Capitals’ trade situation.
Argument for making a trade for a forward:
This season, the Caps have suffered a few injuries at the forward position. Jay Beagle is still out with an injury, Marcus Johansson missed some time with injury, and even Alex Ovechkin had trouble with a small nagging lower-body injury that kept him from participating in the all-star game. If one of the Caps’ scorers goes down with an injury heading into the playoffs, it would be nice to have someone to step in and fill the scoring void. Also, making a trade to add some more skill to the bottom two lines would help boost scoring heading into the playoffs.
Why the Caps don’t need to trade for offense:
The Capitals lead the league in goals per game, and possess one of the best top-6’s in the league. Andre Burakovsky moving up to the top-6 has been a huge success, and his production has increased drastically since being bumped up. Marcus Johansson brings skill and speed to the third line, and the fourth line has looked very good the last several games. In the game against the New Jersey Devils, the fourth line was continuing the cycle very well, and Michael Latta and Brooks Laich both had assists on the Kuzy goal. With time, Mike Richards will continue to get comfortable and start scoring and creating chances for his line-mates. Also, Jay Beagle is set to return soon, so even if another player falls to injury, either Latta or Laich will be able to fill in.
Argument for making a trade for defense:
As with the forwards, the Caps have dealt with injuries to their blue-liners this season. Brooks Orpik and John Carlson both missed significant amounts of time due to injury this season. While different guys from Hershey stepped in to fill their spots, the Caps will want guys with playoff experience to step in. Also, if the Caps could bring in a blue-liner that adds some grit and toughness to this defensive corps, this player could be very helpful if the Caps make a deep run in the playoffs.
Why the Caps don’t need to trade for defense:
While both Brooks Orpik and John Carlson were dealing with injuries, players such as Taylor Chorney and Nate Schmidt proved to Barry Trotz that they are fully capable of handling the increased defensive responsibilities. In a sense, the Capitals already have an extra defenseman, as Taylor Chorney is the 7th blue-liner on this team. Chorney is a great stay-at-home defenseman that can contribute to the playoff run. Also, it doesn’t make sense for the Caps to give up draft picks, prospects, etc. with how good this team looks. The players have all developed great chemistry between themselves, so a trade might not be necessary to make a run towards the Stanley Cup.
By Gabe Mead