With the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline just seven weeks away from Monday, the Washington Capitals are expected to be buyers as the team looks to secure another Stanley Cup with their current core. NoVa Caps examines possible trade candidates.
The Capitals’ biggest needs appear to be in goal as Ilya Samsonov, Vitek Vanecek, and Zach Fucale have all shown signs of promise this season but also seem to falter when they appear to grab the No. 1 job. Center depth is also on the wish list.
While Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Lars Eller, and Nic Dowd make up one of the league’s best center depth, each one has missed time this season due to COVID-19 and injury. Prospects such as Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas have performed well in their rookie seasons, but the Capitals may prefer them on the wing where there is less pressure to be as stout defensively. Backstrom and Kuznetsov both missed time during the last two Stanley Cup Playoff tournaments (and Backstrom played through a hip injury in 2021), where the Capitals have gone 2-8.
Johan Larsson (Arizona Coyotes)
The 29-year-old has three goals, 11 points, and a 46.06% faceoff-winning percentage in 22 games this season. Larsson, who averages 2:00 on the penalty kill (fourth among Coyotes forwards) and 55 seconds on the power play (11th), has consistently produced 6-12 goals and 11-18 points throughout his nine-season NHL career. He carries a $1.4 million cap hit this season before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.
Ryan Dzingel (Coyotes)
The 29-year-old has earned four goals, six points, and a 46.15% faceoff-winning percentage but has just played in 17 games in 2021-22. Dzingel, who plays 32 seconds per game on the Coyotes’ power play (12th) and 39 seconds shorthanded (10th), scored 22 goals and 41 points in 79 games with the Ottawa Senators in 2017-18 and 26 goals and 56 points in 78 games the following season but his point production has dropped since. Dzingel carries just a $1.1 million cap hit this season and can become an unrestricted free agent on July 17.
Riley Nash (Coyotes)
The 32-year-old has just one assist in 32 games with the Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Winnipeg Jets this season (was claimed on waivers twice) but is a strong defensive centerman as he has won 54.09% of the faceoffs that he has taken, averaged 1:29 on the penalty kill, and has a 50.64% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage. Nash, who makes just $750,000 this season, showed some offensive potential with the Boston Bruins in the 2017-18 season where he scored 15 goals and 41 points in 76 games.
Travis Boyd (Coyotes)
The 2018 Stanley Cup Champion with the Capitals has already set a career-high in goals (eight) and has 16 points in addition to a 46.2% faceoff-winning percentage in just 26 games this season. Since making the jump to the NHL full-time, the 28-year-old has averaged .37 points-per-game (in 2018-19), .42 (in 2019-20), .25 (last season), and .62 (this season). At just $750,000 for the remainder of the season, Boyd would be a solid low-risk but potential high-reward type acquisition. Boyd has averaged 1:17 per game (ninth) on the man advantage and 20 seconds (10th) with a man short this season.
Cedric Paquette (Montreal Canadiens)
The 28-year-old has just one assist and a 29% winning percentage on draws in 20 games this season but has been known as a strong defensive center throughout his NHL career. He tallied 20 goals and 35 points in 141 games with the Lightning from 2018-20 before bouncing around a bit with the Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, and Canadiens in the past two seasons. Paquette has a 49.33% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage and averaged 1:53 (third among Canadiens forwards) on the penalty kill. He comes with just a $950,000 cap charge for the remainder of the season.
Calle Jarnkrok (Seattle Kraken)
The 30-year-old often plays on the wing but slots in the middle as well. Jarnkrok, who hails from the same hometown (Gavle, Sweden) as Backstrom, has had a disappointing season by his standards with just six goals, 11 points, and a 51.45% percentage at the dot in 25 games but it has been a tough season for everyone in Seattle. Before this season, Jarnkrok, who carries a team-friendly $2 million cap hit, reached the double-digit-goal plateau in each of the past six seasons (hitting 15 in four of them) and 30-point plateau four times over that span with the Nashville Predators. Jarnkrok has averaged 1:19 on the penalty kill (fifth among Kraken forwards) and 1:36 on the power play (ninth). Though, he will likely cost more assets to acquire than any other forward on this list.
Riley Sheahan (Kraken)
The 30-year-old, who is playing for his sixth team in the last five seasons, has a goal, four points, and a 46.46% faceoff-winning percentage in 23 games in 2021-22. Sheahan has hit the 20 and 30-point marks two times each in his 10-season NHL career and 10-goal plateau three. He counts just $850,000 against the salary cap for the remainder of the season and has averaged 1:39 on the penalty kill this season (second among Kraken forwards).
Colin Blackwell (Kraken)
After scoring 12 goals and 22 points in 47 games for the New York Rangers last season, the 28-year-old has earned three goals, six points, and a 46.67% win percentage at the dot in just 14 games this season. Blackwell, who makes only $725,000 this season, has averaged 14 seconds on the power play and 41 on the penalty kill for the Kraken.
Nick Paul (Senators)
The 26-year-old tallied 20 points in 56 games in each of the past two seasons before racking up six goals and eight points in 29 games in 2021-22. Paul, who counts just $1.35 million against the salary cap this season, has also won 48.38% of his faceoffs this season after winning at least 51% in each of the previous two. He has averaged 2:11 on the penalty kill (second among Senators forwards) and 34 seconds on the power play this season.
Cody Eakin (Buffalo Sabres)
The 30-year-old has posted three goals, eight points, and a 55.87% of the faceoffs that he has taken in 31 games this season and hit the 15-goal plateau four times and 40-point one twice in his 10-year NHL career. Eakin, the Capitals’ 85th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft who played 30 games during the 2011-12 season with the team before getting dealt to the Dallas Stars as part of a deal that sent Mike Ribeiro to Washington, has won at least 54.5% of the draws he has taken in each of the last three seasons and hit the 52% mark six times in his career. Eakin, who makes $2.25 million this season, has averaged 1:14 on the penalty kill this season (fifth among Sabres forwards).
Zemgus Girgensons (Sabres)
The 28-year-old has seven goals, 12 points, and a career-high 49.1% faceoff-winning percentage in 33 games this season and scored at least 15 points in each of the previous five campaigns he has played in (missed whole 2020-21 season). Girgensons, who carries a $2.2 cap charge through next season, has averaged 1:37 on the power-play (seventh among Sabres forwards) and 1:33 on the penalty-kill (third) this season.
Mark Jankowski (Sabres)
The 27-year-old has only a goal, an assist, and a 52.17% faceoff-winning percentage in seven games this season but scored 31 goals and 57 points in 151 games over his first two NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames from 2017-19. Jankowski counts $750,000 against the salary cap through the end of this season and has averaged a team-high among forwards 1:53 of penalty-killing time per game.
Jujhar Khiara (Chicago Blackhawks)
The 27-year-old has piled up three goals and a career-high 53.19% faceoff-winning percentage in 25 games with the Chicago Blackhawks this season after earning between 10-21 points in each of the past four seasons, including a career-best season where he finished with 11 goals in 69 games with the Edmonton Oilers in 2017-18. Khiara, who makes just $975,000 through 2022-23, ranks second on the team with an average of 1:52 per game shorthanded.
Derick Brassard (Philadelphia Flyers)
The 34-year-old has only played two games since November 23 due to two different lower-body injuries but earned four goals and 11 points in addition to winning 49.7% of the draws that he took in 19 games. Brassard, who is on a contract that pays him only $825,000 this year, has bounced around a lot lately but proved that he still has game with the New York Islanders two seasons ago where he tallied 10 goals and 32 points in 66 games, the ninth time he hit the 30-point eclipse in his 15-year career. Brassard has averaged 2:07 on the power-play (eighth among Flyers forwards) this season.
Jake Allen (Canadiens)
With Carey Price missing a lot of time over the past two seasons due to injury and health issues, the 31-year-old has been the Canadiens’ top option in goal for a large part of his tenure in Montreal. Allen is 5-16-2 with a .901 save percentage, a 3.15 goals-against average, and two shutouts this season. He has finished with a save percentage of at least .915 three times in his nine-season NHL career and a goals-against average of 2.46 at the highest five. Allen comes with a $2.875 million cap charge through 2022-23.
Marc-Andre Fleury (Blackhawks)
After a slow start to his (likely short) tenure in Chicago, the 37-year-old has rebounded and is 12-11-2 with a .911 save percentage, a 2.84 goals-against average, and two shutouts. The 2021 Vezina Trophy winner is a year removed from a season where he posted a career-best .928 save percentage, a 1.98 goals-against average, and six shutouts. The Capitals would likely need to get a third team to eat salary though as Fleury makes $7 million this season. If you are concerned about cost in terms of assets, all the Blackhawks had to give up for Fleury was a prospect whose contract was terminated a month later right after he won the Vezina Trophy.
Semyon Varlamov (New York Islanders)
After two admirable years on the Island, the 33-year-old has yielded the No. 1 job to Ilya Sorokin and is 2-5-1 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.77 goals-against average. Varlamov, who makes $5 million through next season, was one of the best goalies in the NHL last season when he finished with a .929 save percentage, a 2.04 goals-against average, and seven shutouts. He played his first three seasons with the Capitals and was their 23rd overall selection in the 2006 NHL Draft.
Martin Jones (Flyers)
After the 32-year-old’s contract was bought out by the San Jose Sharks last summer, the 32-year-old has improved this season as he is 6-5-2 with a .909 save percentage (up from the .896 that he recorded in three straight seasons in San Jose) and a 3.33 goals-against average in 14 games. Jones comes with a $2 million cap hit and can become an unrestricted free agent in July.
Anton Khudobin (Dallas Stars)
The 35-year-old was 3-3-1 with an .873 save percentage and a 3.73 goals-against average before the Stars were able to send him through waivers. Khudobin is 1-3-0 with a 2.80 goals against average and a .898 save percentage in four AHL games. However, he is just two years removed from leading the NHL in save percentage (.930) and goals-against average (2.22). Khudobin led the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The Stars would almost certainly have to retain salary as Khudobin comes with a $3.33 million cap hit through next season.
Braden Holtby (Stars)
The 2018 Stanley Cup Champion has enjoyed a renaissance season in Dallas as he is 6-8-1 with a .920 save percentage and a 2.56 goals-against average after going 32-25-9 with an .895 save percentage and a 3.28 goals-against average over the previous two seasons with the Capitals and Vancouver Canucks, who bought out the final season of his contract after the 2020-21 season. Holtby’s price tag is just $2 million through the end of this year. Holtby went 282-122-46 with a .916 save percentage, a 2.53 goals-against average, and 35 shutouts in 468 career games with the Capitals before signing with the Canucks as an unrestricted free agent on October 9, 2020.
By Harrison Brown