Photo: All About The Jersey
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks are among the suitors for New Jersey Devils left-wing Pavel Zacha ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline five weeks away from Monday.
Elliotte Friedman on Van interest in Pavel Zacha – I think the Canucks have interest in him but also keep and eye on Van and Washington, they are really struggling up front, could be something there.
Donnie and Dhali
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) February 14, 2022
The 24-year-old, a natural center, has earned 12 goals, 23 points, and a career-worst -19 rating in 46 games for the Devils this season one year after setting career-highs in goals (17) and points (35) in 50 games.
In 362 career NHL games, all with the Devils, the sixth overall pick from the 2015 NHL Draft has 66 goals and 166 points. He does not have a point in five Stanley Cup Playoff games, which were all played in 2018. Zacha has also scored at least three power-play goals in four straight seasons.
The Capitals rank 11th in the NHL with an average of 3.20 goals-per-game but 28th with a 15.5% power-play efficiency this season and 21st with an average of 2.80 goals-per-game since December 18. Over the past two seasons, they have struggled replacing a center when one gets hurt, which has cost them in the postseason. With Nicklas Backstrom missing 32 games this season due to injury and illness, the Capitals could use some insurance up the middle. All four centers have missed time this season due to COVID-19 protocol and/or injury.
Zacha has averaged 17:06 per game (third among Devils forwards this season), including 2:14 on the power-play (fifth), this season.
As a former top-10 pick that has not quite panned out but puts up respectable numbers, a second-round pick and another selection may be the price to pay.
Zacha counts $2.25 million against the NHL salary cap this season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency (with arbitration rights) on July 17.
With left-wing Anthony Mantha (shoulder) on long-term injured reserve and not expected to return until close to the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs (at least), the Capitals have currently have $2,143,998 in salary cap space to spend at the trade deadline barring moving out a player currently on the active roster.
By Harrison Brown