Capitals’ 2021-22 Season Second-Half Trade Tiers

Photo: FantraxHQ

With the NHL Trade Deadline set to occur on March 21 and the Washington Capitals’ 2021-22 season nearing the half-way point, they are expected to be buyers to load up for one of their last cracks at the Stanley Cup with their current core. So, who is staying put and who could go? NoVa Caps does their mid-season trade tiers.

Untouchable

The Capitals expressed last season that these are the only two players off limits in potential trade conversations. Why would that change after Ovechkin has had arguably the best start to a season in his 16-year NHL career?

You’d have to make me a ridiculous offer …

    • LHD Martin Fehervary – The 22-year-old has delivered on high expectations for his first full NHL season as he has earned three goals, six points, a +10 rating, a 51.06% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 52.38% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 50.87% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage while averaging 18:56 per game (fourth among Capitals defensemen) in 29 games. Fehervary is one of the youngest players on a team that needs to get younger and could be in the Calder Trophy conversation as the NHL’s rookie of the year. Definitely not the type of player you would want to deal.
    • LHD Dmitry Orlov – The 30-year-old has had another solid season as he has earned four goals, 14 points, a +18 rating, a 53.38% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 53.54% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 52.99% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage while averaging 20:45 per game (second among Capitals defensemen).
    • RW Tom Wilson – The 27-year-old is having the best season of his career with nine goals and 24 points in 27 games. He does everything for the team whether it is leadership, physicality, scoring, and even dictating some of the Capitals’ rivals moves. Wilson is viewed by many as the franchise’s next captain.
    • C Connor McMichael – Known as the Capitals’ top prospect heading into the season, the 20-year-old has earned his way to a full-time roster spot with three goals and eight points in 27 games. With one of the NHL’s thinnest prospect pools, parting with McMichael, who has spent most of the season in the team’s top-six forward group, would most likely be a non-starter.
    • C Aliaksei Protas – The 20-year-old is another prospect who has made a case to stay on the roster with two goals and five points in 18 games. When Wilson is not playing with Ovechkin and center Evgeny Kuznetsov either because head coach Peter Laviolette wants to change thing up or Wilson is hurt, Protas has taken that spot and is exactly the player the Capitals like at 6’6”, 225 lbs.

Would take a great offer

    • RHD Trevor Van Riemsdyk – The Capitals have showed how much they value the 30-year-old by re-signing him to a two-year contract extension after he played just nine games with the team last season, protecting him in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, and making him a full-time player this season. Van Riemsdyk has rewarded the team this season with seven assists, a +2 rating, a 50.54% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 50.53% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 50.92% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage while averaging 17:30 in 25 games this season after getting promoted to a full-time role. With a very team-friendly $950,000 cap hit, why would the Capitals part with him?
    • RHD Nick Jensen – The 31-year-old has followed up a strong season last year with arguably an even better season this year where he is already just a goal shy of his career-high (four set in 49 games during 2016-17), nine points, a career-high +19 rating, a 51.87% % five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 51.39% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 50% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage while averaging 17:30. Jensen, who carries a cap hit of just $2.5 million through 2022-23, is the Capitals’ top shutdown defensemen and has really thrived after a slow start to his tenure in Washington.

Likely staying put

    • C Evgeny Kuznetsov – The 29-year-old is having the best season of his NHL career with nine goals and 30 points in 28 games but has not lived up to his potential consistently since coming to North America. With his contract counting $7.8 million against the salary cap for three more seasons after this one and the uncertainty of whether he will put in the effort he has this season in for the rest of that contract, could the Capitals still be open to dealing with him with Kuznetsov set to turn 30 in May? The price would be high but perhaps, they would listen. 
    • RW T.J. Oshie – The 34-year-old is one of the heart and soul players of the team but has missed 16 games with two different lower-body injuries. Though Oshie has four goals and 11 points, the Capitals have gone 9-4-3 without him this season and seen young players step up. With him continuing to miss time each season due to injury and counting $5.75 million against the salary cap until through age 38, perhaps it would make sense to be open in terms of dealing him especially since he has played most of this season on the third-line when he has played.
    • C Nic Dowd – The 31-year-old is the Capitals’ top shutdown center and just signed a three-year contract extension to stay in Washington just last month. He is most likely not going anywhere for now.
    • LW Anthony Mantha – The 27-year-old has earned just two goals and 11 points in 25 regular-season and Stanley Cup Playoff games since starting his Capitals’ career with four goals and five points in four games. He is on long-term injured reserve after undergoing shoulder surgery on November 5 and will be out for several months. The Capitals will likely want to give Mantha, whom they paid a heavy price to acquire, another chance after he gets healthy.
    • RW Garnet Hathaway – The 30-year-old’s seven goals this season rank first on the team among players not on the team’s top-line. In addition, Hathaway provides grit and defensive responsibility on the team’s valuable fourth-line.
    • G Ilya Samsonov – The 24-year-old has taken the No. 1 goaltender job as he is 11-2-2 with a .911 save percentage, a 2.64 goals-against average, and three shutouts. The team’s goalie of the future’s time is now, so the Capitals will want to hang on to Samsonov.
    • LW Conor Sheary – The 29-year-old provides some scoring punch to the Capitals’ bottom-six and is the type of utility player all teams crave. Sheary has six goals and 13 points in 23 games while making a very team-friendly $1.5 million through next season. Not the type of player you want to just give away.

Could listen to offers

    • RHD John Carlson – While the soon to be 32-year-old has six goals, 24 points, and a +11 rating in 29 games, he has struggled mightily defensively and $8 million for a one-way defenseman may be too much. After three straight first-round exits, the Capitals could want to make a big change to their core and Carlson, who has a 51.49% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 54.06% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 50.78% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage while averaging a team-high 23:35 per game, may be the way to go. He is under contract for four more seasons after 2021-22.
    • G Vitek Vanecek – Samsonov has emerged as the Capitals’ No. 1 and the team may want experience behind him, so the 25-year-old could be on the block. Vanecek has gone 5-3-5 with a .908 save percentage and a 2.51 goals-against average this season when he lost the starters’ job on the team’s four-game West coast road trip in November.
    • RW Brett Leason – The 22-year-old recorded two goals and four points in 20 games before being re-assigned to the AHL’s Hershey Bears earlier this week. With the Capitals in win-now mode and McMichael, Fehervary, and center Hendrix Lapierre likely off limits in trade discussions, the Capitals could use Leason to lure in a quality player for immediate help, but his low cap hit means he’s likely to be an added incentive for a bigger deal.
    • LW Beck Malenstyn – The 23-year-old has proved himself valuable in a bottom-six defensive role and has one goal in 10 games this season. However, Malenstyn was never viewed as one of the Capitals’ top talents in their system.
    • LHD Dennis Cholowski – The Capitals have rolled with the same starting six on defense for a large majority of the season and the 23-year-old has not delivered as much as he hoped when given the chance with no points, a -4 rating, a 38.95% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 40.57% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 38.46% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage while averaging just 13:36 per game.
    • C Michael Sgarbossa – The 29-year-old has just one goal in six games this season and has spent a vast majority of his four-season tenure in the organization with the Bears.
    • LHD Matt Irwin – Like Cholowski, the 33-year-old has not gotten many opportunity but unlike Cholowski, he has taken advantage when getting them as Irwin has a -1 rating, a 55.93% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 65.41% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 57.14% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage while averaging 15:06 per game in four games. With that being said, Irwin will likely not get much more opportunity with a solid starting six on the Capitals’ blueline baring injuries.

On the block

    • LW Carl Hagelin – The 33-year-old has one goal and five points in 29 games this season and has played in a mostly defensive role on the fourth-line. Hagelin has averaged 1:40 on the penalty kill per game (second on the team), the first time he has not been first since arriving in Washington. With a $2.75 million cap hit through next season, trading Hagelin would be an easy way to create space on the roster for more youth and the salary cap to make more moves.
    • RHD Justin Schultz – The 31-year-old has had a rough season with just one goal, four points, a -1 rating, a 51.96% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 54.28% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 53.39% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage while averaging 16:48 per game (the lowest among the Capitals’ starting-six) in 26 games. Shedding his $4 million cap hit would be a good place to start cutting salary but he would likely have to come with a sweetener. The good news for the Capitals is that his contract expires on July 17, so perhaps the price to move him would be less than the one they had to pay to move right-wing Richard Panik last season.
    • RW Daniel Sprong – The 24-year-old has found himself in and out of the lineup lately as he has produced just four goals and eight points in 25 games. Laviolette has always wanted Sprong to play strong defensively but that has not happened. The Capitals could use Sprong, who has already been dealt twice in his NHL career and can become a restricted free agent after this season, as a possible trade chip.
    • C Lars Eller – The 32-year-old has found his game lately with three goals during a three-game goal-streak and five points on a four-game point-streak but with McMichael and Protas pushing for ice time, perhaps moving Eller, who has five goals and 14 points in 23 games, would make sense. Moving his $3.5 million cap hit would also free up a lot of cap space.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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8 Responses to Capitals’ 2021-22 Season Second-Half Trade Tiers

  1. Anonymous says:

    Caps have two centers (kids) ready for a full time gig. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby is ready, does everything Hagelin does (speed, PK specialist) but also has a lethal shot, something Hagelin doesn’t have. And Ax is half the cost.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would also say that only a few teams such as Detroit and Mont would take a contract and have anything to send back… I thought last year that the Caps should have taken Tony DAngelo and if he didnt do well, then toss him…

  3. steven says:

    Schults wont need a sweetner as he is a FA after the season. Haglin would need on as he has another year on that silly contract. Better to sit on Schultz and let him walk after the season unless you can gt a decent ick for him. Sprong doesnt have much of a contrast, think min and is a UFA after the season so unless someone is looking to use him next year he will get few offers for. Irwin may be the perfect guy to sing for 1 or two years as he is also min salary and hope that one of the guys in Hershey is ready next season. Leason would be a perfect replacement for Hagelin ( thought it may be Gersich but he doesnt seem to get his role very well. As for Carlson, yes and I think a change of scenery would be good for him as he just seems to be going through the motions this year. Maybe a trade would wake him up. malenstyn has some size that could eventually fill in on the 3rd or 4th line. I like Sgarbossa but his place is in the wings in a spot start as a replacement for an injured player or in Hershey not sure what his value would be to some other team. As for Eller the longer you wait to trade him the more you are going to, I feel, hurt this team as his replacement will have less time to get accustomed to his position and line. But I agree a pretty easy trade piece especially as he only has 1 year on his contract and probably get a mid pick for him. Cholowski and Vaneck would be trade material but after trading a 2nd to get VV back unless they are sold on Bednard, Copley or Fucale as backup for the rest of this year and next dont see him going anywhere. Finallt and I love him playing for us, especially in the shootout, TJ may be worth trading as I feel you could get players and picks and unload his salary. He is aslo getting older adn more injury prone and although he still plays a good 2 way game and is a great option on the PP maybe someone bigger in the middle oculd do better like Wilson, Mantha, Protas, Sheary or Hathaway.

  4. redLitYogi says:

    I don’t think we’ve ever made a trade deadline move that didn’t hurt: you always have to give up something good to get something good. So no one but the first two you mentioned can be considered untouchable, but I’d add Wilson to that duo. If we trade Kuznetsov, who do we get back? That’s a huge loss to replace. If we trade Carlson and/or Schultz, do we get an RHD back that can quarterback a power play?

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Agree, Yogi. We debated criteria at length. In the end we went with what Mac indicated (only 8 and 19 are untouchable). Otherwise I would add 42, 59 potentially to that top tier.

  5. kazoo says:

    Carlson would be trade candidate numero uno for me. Not good defensively and making too much money.

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