Earlier in the day, reports surfaced that the Washington Capitals believed they could yield a first-round pick for backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
In the end, the Capitals got a second-round pick from the Colorado Avalanche while also dumping Brooks Orpik’s $5.5 million cap hit for salary relief. Now some of the strategy of the deal is coming more into focus via the News & Observer’s Luke DeCock.
According to Hurricanes beat writer, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan took a higher draft pick in the second round so that he could send Grubauer to the Western Conference.
Canes offered earlier second-rounder than Colorado for Grubauer and were willing to take Orpik's contract (not permanently, presumably, for obvious reasons) — but Caps apparently wanted him out of the Southeas…er, Metro.
— Luke DeCock (@LukeDeCock) June 23, 2018
The Carolina Hurricanes owned the 42nd pick in the second round while the Avalanche owed the 47th overall selection.
A difference of five picks in the second round is negligible as far as the caliber of player available, but the Caps seemed to think it was worth that difference to keep Grubauer, a burgeoning talent, out of the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future. With the NHL’s current playoff format, teams must play rivals from their own division in Rounds One or Two (unless a wildcard team from the other division ends up in the bracket) to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
The Caps now will now only have to face Grubauer unless the Colorado Avalanche go on a deep run in the playoffs. And Brian MacLellan seems mighty fine with that.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
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