The cap-strapped Washington Capitals had arguably the worst offseason of any NHL team. The Capitals lost several big names due to unrestricted free agency (Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk). But it was the surprise salary dump of Marcus Johansson and the unexpected loss of Nate Schmidt in the expansion draft that may have hurt the most.
Johansson, in his prime and signed to an affordable three year pact worth $4.583 a season, was the team’s third-leading goalscorer last season. Meanwhile, Schmidt is one of the best young defensemen in the game.
On Thursday, Nicklas Backstrom and Dmitry Orlov spoke about the losses of Johansson and Schmidt during the NHL’s European Media Day tour.
They were about as sad as you would imagine.
According to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti, here’s what Backstrom had to say on if he was surprised Johansson was traded.
“Absolutely, I was surprised and I think everybody else was too,” Backstrom said. “But at the same time this is part of the business that we all agree on when we sign the contract. We know this could happen.
“Especially it’s going to be tough for me and my family because we’re close friends with Marcus. At the same time, it is what it is. You’ve got to deal with it.”
Dmitry Orlov spent a large chunk of the 2015-16 season skating with Schmidt and the duo performed well. According to Gulitti, Orlov called Schmidt’s drafting to the Vegas Golden Knights “a hard loss.”
“Yeah, he’s a funny guy. He’s always smiling, always brings joy in the locker room,” Orlov said. “It’s a hard loss. But maybe it’s good for him, too. Maybe he’s going to play more and bring his own new things on a new team. It’s a new opportunity, but if he would have stayed with us he for sure would have helped us.”
Headline photo: Elsa/Rob Carr
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