The 2017-18 NHL regular season is swiftly moving along, and it has already provided plenty of surprises for hockey fans. February 26 is the NHL Trade Deadline, and teams are beginning to prepare for it. For some players around the league, they already know that their future may be with a different club at that date in time.
With the games becoming more competitive, and critical points up for grabs, teams like the Washington Capitals know what the stakes are to reach another postseason berth. While the Capitals are a bit down from their peak from last season, they are still in a prime position to clinch another playoff berth, and possibly clinch the Metropolitan Division.
It is no secret that the Capitals management will look for answers in the next few weeks. The Capitals are in the market for a defenseman before the next Trade Deadline, and GM Brian MacLellan is likely working the phones to see what is out there.
The Capitals will likely be in the hunt for a left-shot defenseman before the next Trade Deadline. While the market for defensemen is not deep, there are some intriguing options that the Capitals could explore.
Who could the Capitals look to bring in to the organization? Which players could be long-term or short term solutions?
RYAN MCDONAGH AND NICK HOLDEN (NEW YORK RANGERS)
The New York Rangers are likely going to try and rebuild. It appears that they will listen to offers on just about any of their roster players.
Ryan McDonagh is one of the best trade pieces they have in their lineup. The 28-year old Captain is a Minnesota native, and is very well respected around the NHL. McDonagh can play in all situations on the ice, and can give a team a strong 20-25 minutes of icetime every night. McDonagh has a friendly $4.7 million cap hit, and his contract expires at the end of the 2018-19 season. McDonagh would not be a rental, so his price tag would be very high for a team trying to acquire him.
Nick Holden, 30, has been at a couple of different locations, but he is another Rangers defenseman that could interest the Capitals. Holden is a depth defenseman that can provide a club with 15-20 quality minutes per night. He is on an expiring contract, that carries a cap hit of $1.65 million. He would likely be a rental to whatever team attempts to acquire him, but he has a cap hit that could be very workable, especially to a team like the Capitals.
JACK JOHNSON (COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS)
With the emergence of young blueliners Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, Jack Johnson’s role with the Blue Jackets has gotten smaller. He has reportedly requested a trade out of Columbus. Johnson is on an expiring contact, that carries a friendly cap hit of $4.3 million. Johnson, 31, can still give a team plenty of flexibility on the blueline, as he can play the powerplay and penalty kill. It is possible that a team could possibly work a sign-and-trade for Johnson and keep him around in their long-term plans. Johnson could give the Capitals another veteran on the blueline and could stabilize things in the short-term for them.
IAN COLE (PITTSBURGH PENGUINS)
Cole’s name has been mentioned in the rumor mill for some time. The 28-year old defenseman is a depth guy that is a good skater. He is coming off an expiring contract that has a friendly cap hit of $2.1 million. With the Penguins chasing their third Stanley Cup, it is possible that they will keep Cole around for the remainder of the season as insurance on the back end.
BEN HUTTON (VANCOUVER CANUCKS)
Hutton has fought his way in and out of the Canucks lineup. The 24-year old defenseman is still raw and growing physically, but he has struggled to find offense under new coach Travis Green. When Hutton is at his best, he can make a good first pass out of the defensive zone and can move the puck really well in the offensive zone. Hutton would not be a rental, as he has 1 more year left on his current deal that has a good cap hit of $2.8 million.
By: George Foussekis