A Deep Dive On The Capitals Potential Trade Deadline Acquisitions

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The Washington Capitals were recently rumored to be considering three forwards to add to the roster ahead of the upcoming trade deadline on March 21: Andrew Copp, Calle Jarnkrok, and Artturi Lehkonen.

It’s no surprise that the Capitals are in need of some experienced forward depth due to the bevy of injuries to key forwards like Anthony Mantha, TJ Oshie, and Nicklas Backstrom. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the advanced statistics for Copp, Jarnkrok, and Lehkonen, and how they could impact the Capitals’ lineup.

The statistics referenced in this post are courtesy of Hockey Reference, Evolving-Hockey, JFresh Hockey, and Natural Stat Trick. Contract and cap hit information are courtesy of CapFriendly. If you would like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our analytics glossary.

Andrew Copp

Copp is a 27-year-old forward who can line up at center and right wing. He’s a pending unrestricted free agent with a cap hit of $3.640 million. In 47 games with the Winnipeg Jets this season, he has 12 goals, 16 assists, and 28 points.

On top of that, he’s posting a solid 52.2% Corsi For percentage. For those who are looking for the Caps to acquire some extra help on the face-off dot, Copp has won 294 face-offs on 546 attempts, good for a 53.8% face-off win rate.

First, let’s take a look at his wins above replacement (WAR) card from JFresh Hockey:

Copp is projected to finish in the 66th percentile in WAR, which is solid for what will likely be a depth addition for the Caps. Copp is performing at the 80th percentile in both even strength offense and power play offense.

What’s intriguing is that he’s posting marks in the 17th percentile for even strength defense, but is in the elite tier for penalty killing. Copp is getting high quality teammates on the ice with him while going against an average level of competition on a nightly basis.

Here’s Copp’s Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus from Evolving-Hockey:

Here’s what’s interesting with Copp. He’s performing a bit under expectation in terms of expected goals for versus actual goals for per 60 minutes of play.

He is certainly above replacement levels in generating chances (xGF and CF) and that carries over to the power play where he performs really well. The GF/60 could be more of a commentary on the state of the Winnipeg Jets than a slight on Copp’s performance.

Now, what could you expect from Copp if they Capitals were to acquire him? Copp would slot in as a middle six forward that would likely play on the penalty kill and the second unit of the power play. He could add a bit more firepower to the second unit of the power play since the top unit’s forwards are stacked up with Kuznetsov, Backstrom, and Oshie (when healthy). Between Copp and Dowd, they could share the duties on important defensive zone face-offs.

Calle Jarnkrok

Jarnkrok is a 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent on the Seattle Kraken, with a cap hit of $2 million. Jarnkrok can line up at any forward position, but mainly plays on the wing.

In 41 games this season, Jarnkrok has scored 10 goals, posted 11 assists for 21 points. He has a CF% of 47.6 this season, but is tasked with a higher percentage of defensive zone starts.

Let’s take a look at his wins above replacement (WAR) card from JFresh Hockey:

Jarnkrok is in a similar tier as Copp, projected to finish in the 68th percentile in WAR. After a spike in defensive value last season in Nashville, Jarnkrok’s overall WAR values have dropped in every category after being selected by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft.

At this point in his career, he’s a defensive focused forward that can pot a goal when needed. Jarnkrok has scored double digit goal totals every season since 2015-16, which would be useful for depth scoring.

Here’s Jarnkrok’s Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus from Evolving-Hockey:

This one isn’t exactly sparkling for Jarnkrok, but he’s also on one of the worst teams in the NHL. He’s below replacement levels in each metric above except for GF/60, which rings true with what we’ve mentioned in his WAR valuation.

Jarnkrok wouldn’t add a ton to the Capitals’ struggling special teams, either. In my eyes, Jarnkrok doesn’t make a ton of sense to acquire unless the Capitals are truly only really looking for a forward that is defensively responsible, can score goals at a decent rate, and is position flexible.

Artturi Lehkonen

Lehkonen is a 26-year-old forward that can play either left wing or right wing. He’s a pending restricted free agent with arbitration rights and a cap hit of $2.3 million. In 49 games with the Montreal Canadiens this season, he has scored 7 goals and 13 assists for 20 points, while receiving an average of 14:34 of time on ice.

Let’s take a look at his wins above replacement (WAR) card from JFresh Hockey:

Again, similar tier of player value between these three forwards. The difference here is that Lehkonen is absolutely elite defensively at even strength, scoring in the 99th percentile in terms of value.

He’s on the second worst team in the NHL and the worst team in the Eastern Conference too, so he’s not getting much help around him there. He’s also rather decently valued for even strength offense at the 76th percentile.

Here’s Lehkonen’s Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus from Evolving-Hockey:

Lehkonen is really effective at everything but GF/60 at this point in his career. This is just another glimpse into why JFresh Hockey is scoring Lehkonen at the 99th percentile in even strength defense. It’s extremely impressive that Lehkonen is posting this level of performance on a team with a -76 goal differential.

Lehkonen would fit in on the third line for the Capitals, plus the fourth line of Carl Hagelin, Nic Dowd, and Garnet Hathaway, the Caps have two shutdown lines in the bottom six.

Lehkonen does not have a ton of value on the power play, where he has only amassed 9 power play points in 387 games. He also does not have a ton of value on the penalty kill, but does have experience killing penalties.

Overall, Lehkonen may be more expensive to acquire because he’s only a pending restricted free agent, so the Caps would still have team control over him after the season ends. He’s not a true rental, so the Caps would risk needing to go to arbitration with him this off-season and getting into more of a salary cap pinch.

Conclusion

If the Caps are looking for a true rental forward that can be a plug and play player in the middle six, add scoring depth and defensive value, Andrew Copp is likely that player. Copp is likely the better fit for the Caps at this point, since they need help in both special teams units and a bit more skill at the face-off dot.

On the other hand, Lehkonen makes a lot of sense if the Caps front office is looking for a player that can be a part of the roster going forward, especially as a key defensive forward. The only downside of that acquisition is you’re taking another spot away from a player who can add depth scoring, and while he’s extremely effective defensively during five on five play, he doesn’t add a ton on special teams.

By Justin Trudel

About Justin Trudel

Justin is a lifelong Caps fan, with some of his first memories of the sport watching the team in the USAir Arena and the 1998 Stanley Cup appearance. Now a resident of St. Augustine, FL, Justin watches the Caps from afar. Justin graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Political Science from Towson University, and a Master's of Science in Applied Information Technology from Towson University. Justin is currently a product manager. Justin enjoys geeking out over advanced analytics, roster construction, and cap management.
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3 Responses to A Deep Dive On The Capitals Potential Trade Deadline Acquisitions

  1. Anonymous says:

    I like the idea of going with more of a defensive forward, but recent 5on5 scoring seems to be down a little. Maybe better d will lead to better o.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is getting some chatter in my circles just because that fateful trade back when and now he’s available.. what about bringing Filip Forsberg back home? Still just 27 years old hes a upcoming UFA so 2 ways to look at it. Either A, your getting a clear top 6 Star player as a rental so you don’t have to give up much in return or B, my preference hes 27 get him to agree to a 5-6 year extension for 6mil-7mil, send Mantha back Nashville way that’ll offset any Forsberg deal over next yr or 2. And he would be a clear cut part of the core presently& future post OV.

  3. keuneke says:

    do not trade anyone one on our 4th line of Hagelin, Hathaway, and Dowd they have been our best line for the current season and last year. If any of those 3 players are traded our season is done and so are the playoffs.

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