Photo: The Rat Trick
When the NHL Trade Deadline comes around every year, Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan always ties to be active to put his team over the top as he has made at least two moves in each of his six trade deadlines on the job. With an aging core and not much time remaining in his team’s Stanley Cup window, expect him to be busy around the trade deadline again this time around whenever that is. MacLellan would likely have to get creative to be active on the trade market this season as the Capitals do not currently have any cap space to work with around the trade deadline but that does not mean they will try to get in on the action. NoVa Caps takes an ear;y look at players that the Capitals could pursue at the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline to take a run at the Stanley Cup.
First, let’s look at the Capitals’ projected lineup for the 2020-21 season.
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin — Lars Eller — Daniel Sprong
Garnet Hathaway — Nic Dowd — Richard Panik
Extra: Beck Malenstyn
Brenden Dillon — John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov — Justin Schultz
Jonas Siegenthaler — Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Extra: Nick Jensen, Paul LaDue, Michal Kempny (injured)
While they do not have much cap space to work with, they could trade a right-handed defenseman with five on the NHL roster after the unrestricted free-agent signings of Schultz, Van Riemsdyk, and LaDue. As Nick Jensen is projected to be the Capitals’ seventh defenseman this season and accounts for $2.5 million against the salary cap, he could be the most likely to go.
Overall, this team is pretty solid with two strong netminders, a deep defense, one of the NHL’s best top-six forward groups, and one of the league’s top three center trios. While the top-six is as talented as any in the league, Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Oshie are getting older as all will be 33 or older when the puck drops for the 2020-21 NHL season. The team wants to give Sprong a shot but perhaps, they could and should upgrade considering they are trying to muster whatever they can out of this core before their window closes. MacLellan could go after a middle-six right-wing at the trade deadline to put his team over the edge.
Here are a few candidates as to who fits that bill:
The 26-year-old was signed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Florida Panthers as an unrestricted free agent this fall and will once again be eligible to hit the open market after this season. Considering the Panthers are expected to take a step back after the losses of top-six forwards Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman in free agency, it would be fair to pencil them in to be sellers at this year’s trade deadline.
Hinostroza recorded five goals, 22 points, a +1 rating, a 49.59% Corsi-for percentage at five-on-five, and a 49.45% expected goals-for percentage at five-on-five with the Arizona Coyotes in 68 regular-season games in 2019-20. He added two assists and earned a +1 rating in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games. In 246 career NHL regular-season games with the Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks, Hinostroza has recorded 34 goals, 100 points, and an even rating. The best season of his career came in 2018-19 when he recorded 16 goals, 39 points, and a -4 rating in 72 games with the Coyotes.
Defensively, Hinostroza recorded 51 hits, 26 blocked shots, 20 giveaways, and 30 takeaways while averaging just 13:06 worth of ice-time per game, including 0:47 while shorthanded, last season.
Proposed Trade: Hinostroza for 2022 third-round pick (Capitals), 2021 fifth-round pick (Capitals)
The 27-year-old signed a two-year contract that carries a $2 million cap hit with the Detroit Red Wings as an unrestricted free agent last month. While the team made some upgrades after finishing last in the NHL by 23 points and should improve after an active offseason, they will almost certainly not be in the Stanley Cup Playoff hunt this season. While Namestnikov will not be eligible for unrestricted free agency until after the 2021-22 NHL season, the Red Wings could deal him at this year’s deadline to get more value in return.
Namestnikov had a nice season in 2019-20 as he posted 17 goals, 31 points, and a -5 rating in 65 regular-season games with the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, and Colorado Avalanche. At five-on-five, he recorded a 44.73% Corsi-for percentage and a 46.91% expected goals-for percentage. He added four goals and five points in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Avalanche. In 425 career NHL games with the Rangers, Senators, Avalanche, and Tampa Bay Lightning, Namestnikov has recorded 83 goals, 189 points, and a +7 rating. The best season of his career came in 2017-18 when he recorded 22 goals, 48 points, and a +6 rating in 81 games with the Lightning and Rangers.
Namestnikov recorded 93 hits, 39 blocked shots, 23 giveaways, and 22 giveaways while averaging 15:08 worth of ice-time per game, including 1:55 while shorthanded and 1:42 on the power-play last season.
While he may cost a lot more than what is proposed below, the Avalanche gave up only a fourth-round pick to get him from the Senators at the trade deadline in February so perhaps Namestnikov could be one of the best value options for the Capitals.
Proposed Trade: Namestnikov for a 2022 second-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick
The 26-year-old enters this year with two seasons left on a three-year contract that pays him only $2.53 million annually. He can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 season and since the Panthers might be sellers at this year’s trade deadline, they could be willing to deal Vatrano to get more value for him now rather than at the deadline next season.
Vatrano recorded 16 goals, 34 points, a -8 rating, a 50.35 Corsi-for percentage, and a 46.78% expected goals-for percentage in 69 regular-season games last season but was scratched for half of the Panthers’ four games in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, where he recorded just a -2 rating. In 274 career NHL regular-season games with the Panthers and Boston Bruins, he has posted 65 goals, 112 points, and a -21 rating. The best season in his career came in 2018-19 when he set career-highs in goals (24) and points (39) with the Panthers.
While averaging just 15:01 worth of ice-time per game, including 1:27 on the power-play and 1:15 on the penalty-kill, Vatrano recorded 102 hits (second on the Panthers behind center Noel Acciari’s 121), 43 blocked shots, 32 takeaways, and 18 giveaways last season.
Proposed Trade: 2022 third-round pick, 2023 third-round pick
By Harrison Brown