Photo: Sporting News
With the trade deadline fast approaching, the Washington Capitals have an opportunity to make their team even better for another deep playoff run. General manager Brian MacLellan has stated previously that he wants to acquire another forward and it also wouldn’t hurt to add a little defensive depth in case of an injury. In this piece, NoVa Caps explores candidates the Capitals should acquire to load for another Cup run by 3 PM on February 25.
To accommodate a trade, MacLellan stated that a move the Capitals will make at the deadline will likely be a player-for-player move since the team currently has just $411,667 remaining in cap space. The most obvious candidate to be moved is forward Andre Burakovsky, who can become a restricted free agent July 1 and has just tallied five goals, nine points, and a -6 rating in 40 games this season. To re-sign with the Capitals, Burakovsky, who turns 24 on February 9, needs an offer worth a cap hit of at least $3.25 million, a pretty expensive price for the Capitals for a player who has struggled to produce on a consistent basis throughout his NHL career.
F Ryan Dzingel – Ottawa Senators
Contract: UFA July 1 – $1.8 million cap hit
The Senators, who currently have 41 points, will have plenty for sale at the deadline headlined by center Matt Duchene and forward Mark Stone. Those two will be too expensive for the Capitals, who aren’t in desperate need of forwards. Though, the Senators have another skilled forward available in Dzingel, who has posted 19 goals and 35 points in 45 games this season after scoring 23 goals and 41 points in 79 games last year and has a bargain of a cap hit. The forward has posted at least 14 goals and 32 points in each of the past three seasons. He is only 26-years of age and would be a good fit with center Lars Eller and forward Brett Connolly on the third line. Dzingel has six goals and nine points in his past eight games. The fact that he has scored in a Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals’ arch-rival and potential playoff opponent, in 2017, makes him even more attractive to Washington.
Mock Trade: Dzingel to the Capitals in exchange for Burakovsky and a 2019 fourth-round pick
F Michael Ferland – Carolina Hurricanes
Contract: UFA July 1 – $1.75 million cap hit
The Hurricanes put Ferland on the trade market and have requested at least a first-round pick and a prospect in exchange for the 26-year old. After getting acquired along with defenseman Dougie Hamilton from the Calgary Flames in exchange for forward Adam Fox, forward Elias Lindholm, and defenseman Noah Hanifin at the NHL draft last summer, Ferland’s 13 goals are tied for second on the team while his 25 points are fourth. He has also been fine defensively, earning a +7 rating on a team that has struggled this season. The forward put up 21 goals and 41 points in 77 games with the Flames last season and 15 goals and 25 points in 76 games the year prior. If the Capitals were to acquire him, he would likely spend most of the time on the third line with Eller and Connolly but could move up and down the lineup when necessary and get some time with the Capitals’ second power-play unit.
Mock Trade: Ferland to the Capitals in exchange for Burakovsky and a 2019 first-round pick
F Wayne Simmonds – Philadelphia Flyers
Contract: UFA July 1 – $3.98 million cap hit
Simmonds, 30, has scored 20+ goals and 45+ points in all six of his full-seasons in Philadelphia (not including the 2012-13 lockout). While he will likely cost more than any of the forwards mentioned so far, he could be worth it. In addition to his offensive numbers, he can stand up and drive the Penguins or any other opponents crazy in the playoffs, especially if he’s on the same team as forward Tom Wilson. He’s scored 11+ power-play goals and 20+ power-play points four times and would make the Capitals’ second power-play unit dangerous. He could play anywhere in the lineup and should the Capitals acquire him, expect a lot of line-juggling in the first few games after the trade deadline to find the right mix among the forward group. While his best plus-minus rating in the last three seasons is a -12 this season and has had a plus-rating in only one season (+22 in 2009-10 in 78 games with Los Angeles Kings), his offensive production and skill level would be worth getting him.
Mock Trade: Simmonds to the Capitals in exchange for Burakovsky, a 2019 first-round pick, and forward Max Kammerer
F Jesse Puljujarvi – Edmonton Oilers
Contract: RFA July 1 – $925K cap hit
Puljujarvi, 20, has tallied just four goals and seven points in 35 games this season. He was the Oilers’ fourth-overall pick in 2016 and could be a nice, low-risk add if the Capitals decide to go down that path. He posted 12 goals and 20 points in 65 games in his rookie season, when the Oilers made the playoffs. He has struggled defensively this season, earning a -10 rating but put up some strong offensive numbers in Finland before he came to the NHL. Puljajarvi would probably cost the cheapest out of any of the forwards mentioned in here, which could attract the Capitals more but the team would definitely look at other forwards, such as the ones listed above, before asking about Puljujarvi. However, the fact that he’s young and had a high ceiling in his draft year could make him an attractive low risk, potentially high reward option.
Mock Trade: Puljujarvi for the Capitals in exchange for a 2019 fourth-round pick
Out of all of these forwards, Dzingel is probably the best option since he could be pretty cheap and has a bargain of a cap hit for his level of production. The Capitals wouldn’t likely have to give up a first-round pick to get him, which is a good reason why he’s probably the best candidate to acquire come trade deadline time. With a low cap hit, strong offensive stats, and a potentially cheap price to acquire him, the Capitals should take a serious look at Dzingel with the deadline quickly approaching.
By Harrison Brown