Trade deadlines, next to a Game 7, is the day where fans are filled with the most anxiety at any given point of the season.
“Who is my team going to give up?” “Where is (such and such) going?” “OMG WHAT ARE WE DOING!?
Well the Capitals gave us one of those reactions this year when they traded some prospects but most importantly some nice draft picks over for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
Every year, since Game 7 of 2008, the Capitals have been the team. They’ve had a tremendous offense, steady goalie (exceptional since the Holtby days), and enough defense to cruise to a solid regular season. Naturally, as luck would have it, they always seem to go into the play offs as a one or two seed, to get bumped by a team with a hotter goaltender. What gives? Well if Monday was any indication, GM Brian MacLellan does not want anybody to ask that this off-season.
With the blue line sured up with Brooks Orpik, offensive minded John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, adding Shattenkirk is a piece that is an absolute luxury that could ultimately help lift the Capitals over their playoff hump. Why go pick up someone who will be a free agent come summer time? Well hopefully his 11 goals and 31 assists are a sign that he will help win the Capitals a Stanley Cup. All year (granted pretty much every year) you always hear “It’s the Capitals year.” But this may be the first time I actually believe it.
So let’s think about this:
- The Capitals gained a pretty sturdy, offensive minded defenseman to add to their arsenal where Carlson is really their best option on the powerplay.– In his first home game as a Capital, he played a team-high 21:24, including 7:23 on the power play. Nice, right?
- New York and Pittsburgh also contemplated taking Shattenkirk. The Capitals pretty much ALWAYS run into either the Penguins or the Rangers (or both) at one point or another during the playoffs. Add to your team and don’t let the bad guys have him? Solid plan.
- Other intangibles — Defenseman Karl Alzner, who has been around for every early playoff disappointment since 2010, told Sports Illustrated that the mood forthe recent morning skate the Madison Square Garden was ”almost giddy.” I’m sure teams in the past have also felt that same confidence as the Capitals have cruised to a couple of President’s Trophies in the Ovechkin era, but it looks like the whole team is buying into the “all in” mentality, and Shattenkirk helped cement that.
Come this summer, T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams and Alzner set to be unrestricted free agents. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Dmitri Orlov will all be pending restricted free agents and will be seeking significant raises. Depth forward Brett Connolly will be an RFA as well. In the salary cap era, you cannot keep them all. And it’s not like the Capitals and rely on the draft in the next few years. Washington has traded away its first-, second-, third- and, potentially, fifth-round pick for the 2017 draft. (They are without their second rounder in 2018 too.)
No new prospect for 2017, potentially losing 3-4 big pieces of your current team, all you can think is that it is time for the Cup to be brought to Washington.
“Every year we talk about this is our year, this is our year,” Ovechkin said Tuesday morning. “But enough talk. It’s time to do something.”
This is the year, not only because it feels that way, but because it truly has to be the year.