The NHL trade deadline is quickly approaching and many of the Caps’ rivals in the East have already made significant moves to bolster their rosters with even more moves yet to come. The Caps have made two smaller moves, the already minimal impact of which will be nearly completely eliminated by the fact that either of the two new defenders acquired will replace Madison Bowey in the lineup, not Brooks Orpik.
But should we expect or want the Caps to make more moves before Monday’s trade deadline? On the former issue, Brian MacLellan has stated he will not deal away any of the team’s high draft picks in 2018 for a deadline acquisition. However, Bob McKenzie has reported that the Caps have been checking in on some defenders who would almost certainly cost the team high draft picks.
On the latter issue, of whether we should want the Caps to make significant moves before the deadline, I’m sure there will be many people who disagree with me. I think the Caps should absolutely be looking to deal future assets (i.e. draft picks) in order to bolster the current team. The Caps are a flawed team and aren’t widely considered to be a favorite for the Cup. But they are also certainly a team talented enough to make the playoffs, with a few elite difference makers, and we all know anything can happen once you make the playoffs. The Caps should be looking to increasing the odds of “anything” breaking their way in the playoffs this season.
Further to this point, it would be a mixed message if the Caps decided to play it safe this trade deadline. Why in the world did the team re-sign TJ Oshie (and, to a lesser extent Lars Eller, and why do they seem hellbent on bringing back John Carlson) if they weren’t planning on aggressively pursuing a Stanley Cup in the short term?
The Caps only have three playoffs runs left with the current contracts of Nick Backstrom and Braden Holtby. Alex Ovechkin is 32 and scoring like he’s 22. The Caps may not have a great shot at a sustained playoff run, but they’ve only got a few seasons left of having any shot of a sustained playoff run. The leaders on this team aren’t getting any younger. The Caps should be aggressive to give this team a better chance in the playoffs while guys like Backstrom and Ovechkin are still capable of leading a team.
With all this in mind, let’s see where the Caps stand heading into the deadline.
<slowest of slow whistles> pic.twitter.com/vb17SSvkCX
— Japers’ Rink (@JapersRink) February 22, 2018
— Pat Holden (@pfholden) February 25, 2018
— Peter Hassett (@peterhassett) February 16, 2018
So, into the deadline we go. The Caps have plenty of flaws but they also have the talent to make the playoffs and then be a difficult matchup for anyone they face. The Caps only have so many season left of an elite Ovechkin, and with Backstrom and Holtby on their roster. The time to make a move to increase catching fire in the playoffs is now.
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