By Ian Oland
On one hand, the Washington Capitals have made it easy for general manager Brian MacLellan as Friday’s NHL trade deadline approaches. Other than December, the team has been an under-.500 team this season. Since the bye week, they’ve lost seven of their last nine games in regulation and have been the worst team in the NHL. That slog includes an ugly 7-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday where Darcy Kuemper had a meltdown.
So if you see an optimistic friend on Twitter who says The Capitals aren’t out of it yet! please show them this video.
The Capitals currently sit in 12th in the Eastern Conference standings. Of all the teams fighting for the two wild card spots, they have the worst points percentage – even worse than 13th place Ottawa now.
The Caps (64) are only three points behind the Penguins (67) for the final playoff spot in the East, but it’s their current games played that make a possible appearance in the big dance virtually unpossible.
Of the six teams Washington is competing with, the Penguins (3), Sabres (4), Red Wings (4), Panthers (1), and Senators (4) have all played in fewer games than the Capitals. Plus, there are seven teams vying for two spots.
MoneyPuck has the Capitals’ chances to make the playoffs at 7.8 percent while Micah McCurdy’s model had WSH at 16.3 percent on Friday before this weekend’s games.
I think this factoid really captures the moment the Caps are in. MoneyPuck has the Capitals’ chances to win the Draft Lottery (1.9%) higher than winning the Stanley Cup (0.1%).
This is not to be negative – it’s to honestly set the scene for where this team is at the moment and what the team should do heading into Friday’s trade deadline.
If the team has a pending UFA (and cannot or has no plans to re-sign them), those players should be traded to contenders for assets. If the Capitals want to get younger and re-tool on the fly — perhaps even add an established young player via trade — they can do that.
There’s no reason why the Capitals cannot be real contenders again during the final three seasons of the Ovechkin Era. And this moment is hopefully the start of that.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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