Daniel Winnik knows the drill. Three times in the past five years he’s been traded before the NHL trade deadline -- to San Jose in 2012, to Pittsburgh in 2015 and to the Capitals earlier this week.
“Obviously, teams want him and value what he does,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “The one thing that’s tough when you’re a rental player, it’s hard to be fully engaged sometimes.
“Sometimes some guys are really good at acclimating and getting fully engaged. I talked to him and said, ‘You’re not a ‘rental.’ You’ve got another year on your contract. You’re back here (next season), so get acclimated, get fully engaged.
“We have a good opportunity and a good team to possibly do something in the post-season. I just want him to make sure he’s not a rental player.”
Winnik’s ice time in his first two games as a Capital certainly suggests he is not a rental. He logged 13:09 in the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs Wednesday night while playing on a fourth line with Jay Beagle (13:52) and Mike Richards (14:11). And in Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers Winnik played 12:32, while Richards logged 12:41 and Beagle 11:00
“They were outstanding,” Trotz said. “I would not want to play (against) that line a lot.”
Beagle said he’s surprised at how quickly the experienced trio has come together.
“We’re all fairly new,” he said. “I’m just getting used to Richie, and Winnik comes in and it’s about getting minutes and finding chemistry and I thought we were reading off each other real well.”
Winnik said he thought a he played “a little more cautious” and more defensive on Wednesday than he did on Friday.
“I think that was more because I was playing my old team,” he said, “and I didn’t want to lose to them or get scored on against. Hopefully, it progresses and the games go on and I’ll be a little more aggressive in the offensive zone.”
Off the ice, Winnik has spent his first three nights in Washington in a hotel and will go apartment hunting with his wife when she joins him following the Caps’ weeklong road trip that begins in Boston on Saturday and continues with visits to Anahein, Los Angeles San Jose.
“That’s proven to be a little hard,” Winnik said, “for short-term rental around here.”
Winnik, who will be counted on for his penalty killing, said it’s nice to know that for the next year or so he won’t have to lay down to block a power-play blast by new teammate Alex Ovechkin.
He also likes the idea of letting his facial hair grow after conforming to Lou Lamoriello’s policy as a member of the Maple Leafs.
“I do, yeah,” Winnik said. “I’m not going to lie. It’s just how Lou operates his teams. It’s not really a written team rule, but everyone just knows you can’t have a beard and long hair and everyone complies.”
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