As the NHL Trade Deadline approaches next month, NoVa Caps gives out trade ratings to every player and major prospect in the Washington Capitals‘ organization. The ratings provide a basic classification for the availability of the player being utilized in a trade.
Alex Ovechkin – The face of the franchise is tied for second in the NHL with 34 goals with Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews at age 34. His contract is up after next season, but he’ll probably sign an extension (likely four years to match Backstrom’s contract end date) when he’s eligible to on July 1. The most intriguing question for fans: can he overtake Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, which he is 202 away from, in the next five years?
Nicklas Backstrom – The Capitals just signed the 32-year old center to a five-year, $46 million ($9.2 million AAV) contract extension last week, and he now has the second-highest cap hit on the team. Yeah, he’s not going anywhere.
John Carlson – The 30-year old is in the second year of an eight-year contract and is having a historic season, leading all defensemen with 60 points through only 49 games. He will be in D.C. for the long run.
Evgeny Kuznetsov – The 27-year old led the NHL with 32 points during the Capitals’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2018 and is having a solid season with 16 goals and 43 points in 46 games, although that scoring is coming at a premium price. Still, if Kuznetsov can step it up during the playoffs, it will be money well spent.
Jakub Vrana – The 23-year old is having a breakout season as he is on pace to finish with 37 goals. For a Capitals team that is thin on forward talent down the pipeline, Vrana is the cream of the crop when it comes to young forwards. He could get a quick contract extension after the season as he can become a restricted free agent after 2020-21.
Ilya Samsonov – The 22-year old is having a monster rookie season as he currently leads the league in goals-against average (2.06) and is tied for fourth in save percentage (.927). He is making a strong case to take over the crease full time in Washington down the road.
Tom Wilson – Wilson has been known as the captain-in-waiting for a while now and has made strides in his offensive game over the past three seasons while being relied on as one of the Capitals’ top penalty-killers, tone-setters, and energy-sparkers. At age 25 and in the second season of a six-year contract, Wilson will be in Washington for a very long time.
Martin Fehervary – The 20-year old started the season with the NHL club since Michal Kempny missed the first few games while still recovering from hamstring surgery. He’s looked strong in Hershey with four goals, 14 points, and a +11 rating in 40 games this season and could begin next season on the Capitals. He will not be going anywhere for the next while.
Alexander Alexeyev – The 20-year old had a strong season with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels last season and has made the jump to Hershey this season. He is known as one of the Capitals’ top defensive prospects and, like Fehervary, could get some time on the big club next season. Known for his speed and physical play, Alexeyev is a key part of the Capitals’ future on defense.
Connor McMichael – The 18-year old is having a strong season in the OHL as he is among the league leaders in goals, assists, and points. As the Capitals are thin on prospects down the middle and Backstrom at age 32, they will definitely hold on to the projected top-six center.
Others: Aliaksei Protas, Mitchell Gibson
NEVER SAY NEVER, BUT ALMOST CERTAIN TO STAY
Braden Holtby – The 30-year old can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, but — absent a monster offer — the Capitals will hang on to the goaltender who backstopped them to a Stanley Cup in 2018. He may be in the midst of a minor slump, but he flipped the switch two seasons ago and delivered 16 Stanley Cup Playoff wins in superb fashion. Having two solid goaltenders to mind the net has been a winning formula for past champions.
T.J. Oshie – The 33-year old is not showing any signs of slowing down as he has 18 goals and 34 points in 49 games and is in only the third season of an eight-year contract. As one of the team’s best two-way players and key leaders, Oshie will likely be in Washington for at least another two seasons after this one.
Lars Eller – The 30-year old was one of the team’s unsung heroes in the 2018 Stanley Cup run and is having another solid season with 11 goals and 27 points in 49 games. With only three seasons left on his deal at a manageable $3.5 million against the salary cap, expect Eller to play the rest of his contract out.
Carl Hagelin – The 31-year old, the top penalty-killer on the No. 2 penalty-kill in the league, was just signed to a four-year contract last June and the Capitals see him as a critical piece of the puzzle, dealing one of their most significant leaders during the Cup run in defenseman Matt Niskanen to make room for Hagelin under the salary cap. He is not going anywhere for the next little while.
Michal Kempny – The 29-year old defenseman fit like a glove during his first 13 months in Washington, and while his play has dropped off a little bit since having hamstring surgery on April 2, he has performed admirably with 16 points and a +11 rating in 39 games this season.
Jonas Seigenthaler – The 22-year old has developed into the Capitals’ top penalty-killing defenseman and is having a strong season with a +10 rating. He is building towards a top-four defenseman and will only get better as time progresses.
Garnet Hathaway – The 28-year old has been the driver of the Capitals’ revamped fourth-line this season, is one of the team’s top penalty killers, and has shown he can produce offensively. With a cap hit of only $1.5 million, you don’t trade players like Hathaway unless you get an offer that you can’t refuse.
Radko Gudas – The 29-year old has been a nice add on the Capitals’ blue line, and his +22 rating is the best on the team. He can become an unrestricted free agent after this season and will not likely be re-signed with intriguing options at defense available in the farm system and free-agent market, but for this season, he is staying put.
Brendan Leipsic – The 25-year old brought energy, physicality, and strong two-way play after being signed to a one-year contract on July 1. He can become a restricted free agent after the season. Travis Boyd is challenging Leipsic for the 12th forward slot, but for this season, Leipsic won’t be going anywhere.
Nic Dowd – The 29-year old is one of the Capitals’ top penalty-killers and is responsible defensively. He has also been strong offensively, with five goals and 10 points this season. After signing a three-year contract extension just last April at a team-friendly $750,000, Dowd is likely not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
Travis Boyd – Even though the 26-year old has not played since December 31 and has played in just three games since December 16, he has impressed this season with two goals and eight points in 19 games. With Leipsic’s contract up after this season, Boyd could get his chance to be in the lineup full-time next season.
Brett Leason – The 20-year old is arguably the most prolific scoring winger in the team’s prospect pipeline. He has been taking his time to adjust to the pro leagues this season but broke out last season with 36 goals. Leason will get more opportunities to prove last year was no fluke.
Vitek Vanecek – The 24-year old has had an All-Star season in the AHL this year with a .910 save percentage and a 2.37 goals-against average. With him having the edge over Copley due to a cheaper cap hit, expect Vanecek to back Samsonov up next season if Holtby does not return.
Others: Brian Pinho, Garrett Pilon, Beck Malenstyn, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Martin Hugo Has, Shane Gersich
COULD BE ON THE MOVE IF NECESSARY TO MAKE ROOM FOR A KEY ADDITION
Nick Jensen – The 29-year old has played better lately, but at times he has been exposed defensively, and his -5 rating is the second-worst on the Capitals ahead of only Ovechkin (-9). If the Capitals feel like they need to dump salary, Jensen could be the odd man out as he is under contract for three more seasons at $2.5 million per after this one.
Richard Panik – The 28-year old’s first three months with his new team have not gone as smoothly as both sides hoped, but he has heated up lately with three goals and eight points in his last 16 games. However, as Panik makes $2.75 million for the next three seasons, the Capitals could move him to relieve the salary cap pinch if there’s a trade to add talent.
Dmitry Orlov – Like Jensen, the 28-year old has been better of late but is still making a lot at $5.1 million per season. His offensive game has declined in the past three seasons, dropping from 10 goals in 2017-2018 to three in each of the past two seasons, and for every great hit he puts on an opponent he is prone to some very eye-catching mistakes defensively. He could be moved if there comes a point in time where that $5.1 million is looking really bad for the Capitals.
Others: Eric Florchuk, Alex Kannok-Leipert, Damien Riat, Benton Maass
PRIMED FOR A TRADE
Christian Djoos – The 25-year old was waived after signing a one-year contract as a restricted free agent last summer and getting passed by Seigenthaler on the Capitals’ depth chart last season. With the Capitals up against the salary cap and Djoos having a cap charge of $1.25 million, he is likely trade bait at this point.
Pheonix Copley – The 28-year old netminder was re-signed to a three-year contract extension in the middle of last season but with the intention of having a goalie to expose to the NHL’s Seattle franchise in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. With Vanecek taking the reigns in Hershey, Copley could be on the move in the near future.
Lucas Johansen – The 22-year old has been passed on the defensive depth chart by the likes of Alexeyev and the game is at the point where it’s too fast for Johansen. The Capitals could use him as part of a bigger deal come the trade deadline or the summer.
Connor Hobbs – similar to Lucas Johansen, Hobbs is a victim of the arrival of Alexeyev and Fehervary, and has suffered a number of injuries. He’s also been a healthy scratch in quite a few games as of late.
Others: Colby Williams, Tobias Geisser, Sebastian Walfridsson, Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen
By Harrison Brown