On May 18th, Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan told members of the Capitals media that he is looking for a Top Six forward. MacLellan stated that he didn’t think this year’s free agent market was strong and he would look into a possible trade. The season has now ended and the NHL draft draws near. There have been a surplus of reports stating that teams would be willing to trade some stars and franchise players if the price is right.
Some of the recent organizations having done this are the Chicago Blackhawks, the St. Louis Blues, the Toronto Maple Leafs and The New York Islanders. The players that these teams were rumored to be entertaining offers for are left winger Patrick Sharp, center David Backes, right winger T.J. Oshie, center Patrik Berglund, right winger Phil Kessel and right winger Kyle Okposo.
Kessel’s name likely comes up as the biggest on the list but he commands a massive salary cap hit at $8 million per year for the next seven years. Apparently, the Maple Leafs are willing to take back a team’s bad contract so long as it’s less in term and value than Kessel’s.
A line featuring left winger Alexander Ovechkin, center Nicklas Backstrom and Phil Kessel would be a source of high entertainment for Capitals fans as well as extreme fear for opponents.
There is talk of Sharp being traded next week and this is much more intriguing. However, the Blackhawks are apparently asking for a first round pick, an A-level prospect and a top six forward.
Sharp’s issues are that he’s 33 years old and his cap hit is $5.9 million a year for two more seasons. That’s a pretty high cap hit for an aging player who may turn into a has-been during his current contract.
Backes, Oshie or Berglund would all look great in Capitals sweaters but the real issue is over-paying in an attempt to land one of them. However, their contracts are less of a burden than Kessel’s and their ages are less of an issue than Sharp’s.
The most appealing potential trade would be acquiring Okposo from the Islanders. He only commands a $2.8 million cap hit until he’s likely to explore the free agent market following the 2015-2016 season. He also fits exactly what the Capitals need in a first-line right winger to join the Ovechkin-Backstrom pairing and still has a number of years left in his prime at 27 years old.
If any of these trades are to possibly occur, it will happen at the NHL Draft.
Washington has made a draft day trade in each of the last seven years. Some of the trades the Capitals have made during the event in the last seven years have resulted in drafting goaltender Philipp Grubuer, acquiring right winger Troy Brouwer from Chicago and acquiring center Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars.
All the aforementioned scenarios would make the Capitals a better team in the short term. There is no doubting that but, at what cost would it be better in the short term? It could jeopardize the club’s future.
Washington parting ways with top prospects in left winger Andre Burakovsky, left winger Jakub Vrana, or defenseman Madison Bowey would not be a smart move as a quick fix because most, if not all, potential trade partners will target any of these three. MacLellan will not likely part with them anyway.
With the plethora of prospects available, the Capitals won’t hesitate to part ways with their first round pick (22nd overall) in this year’s draft. To acquire any of the above mentioned players, that pick will absolutely be given up and that’s perfectly fine.
The 2015 NHL Draft starts with the first round on June 26 at 7 p.m. from the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. Rounds two through seven will be on the following day.