In recent years, the Capitals have been active near the trade deadline. While they added defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk two years ago, they’ve typically focused on adding some depth. Speaking with reporters, including Adam Zielonka of the Washington Times, GM Brian MacLellan discussed the upcoming deadline and he indicated that they may approach things a little differently this season:
I don’t think we have any glaring weaknesses we’re going to try to address. Normally, we’re looking for defensive help and defensive depth — you know, your five, six, seven guys. I feel comfortable where we’re at there, barring injury. I think our forward group is pretty solid. We have a lot of options that the coaches can use there. I mean, I think the only thing we’re going to look for is, is there a hockey trade to be made, salary for salary, player for player in the forward group?
While the GM doesn’t say it, it’s reasonably safe to infer that he’s speaking about winger Andre Burakovsky when it comes to making a salary for salary trade among their forward group. The 23-year-old is having a tough year offensively with just nine points in 38 games and has been a healthy scratch at times. That’s not great value on a $3MM cap hit and he will be owed a $3.25MM qualifying offer in June, something that looks a little pricey at the moment. However, given that he has a couple of seasons of 35 or more points under his belt, there may be a team willing to take a chance on him.
Zielonka suggests that winger Dmitrij Jaskin, a waiver claim from St. Louis earlier this season, could also be a trade candidate. With a $1.1MM cap hit, they could presumably look to bring in someone a little cheaper and give themselves a bit of financial wiggle room. They presently sit to finish the year less than $14K under the cap per CapFriendly so any savings could go a long way.
The Capitals have had some decent performances from their younger defenders in Christian Djoos (currently on LTIR), Madison Bowey, and Jonas Siegenthaler. That appears to have given MacLellan the confidence to go with that group if need be although it still wouldn’t be surprising to see them add someone who could be stashed in the minors and brought up when injuries arise.
MacLellan also indicated that he intends to start discussions regarding a contract extension for winger Jakub Vrana later this month. The 23-year-old already has set a career-high in goals and is just two points away from matching his previous best in points as well. He’s in the final year of his entry-level deal and will be looking for a considerable raise on his current $863K cap hit. Vrana will not be eligible for salary arbitration this summer, however.