Preview: Caps and the Trade Deadline

With the NHL Trade Deadline a little over a week away the rumors and speculation is ramping up as we all look to see what our favorite teams will do to either help improve their team, or who they’re selling in hopes of a better future beyond this season. In this edition we will take a look at the Washington Capitals and what they need, and what prospective moves they could make heading into the Trade Deadline.

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Needs – Goaltending

Starting off with the needs for the Capitals it is quite evident that it is one key thing. Goaltending. Between the pipes the Caps have been riding netminders Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov with support from Zach Fucale and Pheonix Copley. As the season has gone on Vanecek has shown that he has been the more capable starter for the Caps with his calm demeanor, and solid play between the pipes. With Samsonov his play has been more erratic, and his rebound control has been very problematic. There have been many times that Samsonov is also fighting the puck or looking lackluster or listless between the pipes too. The consistency level has not been there with Samsonov who is on a one year prove it contract. Vanecek, when healthy, has been consistent for the Caps.

Possible Solutions – Goaltending

Feb 20, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) makes a glove save during the third period against the Florida Panthers at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Marc-Andre Fleury (CHI)

So what are some possible solutions for the Caps? One that has been linked to them is Chicago Blackhawks goaltender, and long time nemesis with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Marc -Andre Fleury. Fleury I believe would be a perfect fit for the Caps, if he can get past the history he’s had against the Caps with the Pens. Fleury is a competitive netminder who still has plenty in the tank and can legitimately steal you games. Fleury is also a netminder that you can split games 50/50 with Vanecek on through the remainder of the season, and possibly through the playoffs as well. Fleury also provides veteran experience as he’s been to the Stanley Cup Final five times, and winning three of them. That is very valuable not just for the Caps, but for Vanecek as well.

Now it’s pretty evident I keep mentioning how it would be a benefit to share the crease with Fleury for Vanecek, but what about Samsonov? It’s simple really, I’d trade Samsonov to Chicago as part of the Fleury trade. Fleury currently carries a $7 million cap hit, and while it would be pro-rated come the trade deadline, the Caps would still need Chicago to retain some salary to make this deal work. Samsonov’s current cap hit is $2 million, and moving his deal, which Samsonov is also arbitration eligible this offseason, would help open the door to work on bringing Fleury into DC. Plus at this stage for Samsonov, a fresh start with another team could be best for both parties.

At the end of the day though, would Fleury want to come to the Caps? That’s the question that really needs to be answered there.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Jones, left, makes a save as Carolina Hurricanes’ Jordan Martinook reaches for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, in Philadelphia. Derik Hamilton – freelancer, FR170553 AP

Martin Jones (PHI)

Jones is currently on a one year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, and the brass has already made it known that he will not be back with the team next season (Thanks Dave Scott and Chuck Fletcher for once again devaluing your players publicly before the trade deadline), so that opens the door for Jones to get moved at the deadline. Jones’ current cap hit is $2 million, and is more manageable for the Caps. Jones would be a solid backup or third stringer for the Caps as they make their push to and through the playoffs. Jones does have playoff experience and has played in one Stanley Cup Final (2016), and can also act a mentor for the younger netminders as well. Plus Jones could potentially be a legitimate option to be a backup for the Caps next season.

At most I’d trade a fifth round pick for Jones, and that’s simply because Dave Scott and Chuck Fletcher have made it known that they are moving on from him when the season is over and has essentially devalued him to the eyes of the other general managers in the League.

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Other Potential Options

Other options available out there are Joonas Korpisalo (CLB – $2.8 mil AAV) and Alexander Georgiev (NYR – $2.425 mil AAV), but the question would be, would those trades make sense given how the New York Rangers are making the playoffs, and Columbus is on the Caps heels in the playoff race.

Other Potential Moves

So after looking at the glaring need between the pipes, what else do the Caps need? In all honesty I say stand pat with the offense and the defense. On defense the Caps are very deep. The pairs that we have are solid, and with Michal Kempny as our seventh defenseman now, and Matt Irwin as the eighth dman, I’m pretty confident in our defense.

On offense I would consider moving Daniel Sprong for maybe another piece or even for a goaltender if need be. We got a lot of good young kids in the pipeline, and I’d be ok with giving them the opportunities like we have all season long.

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