The Washington Capitals are the defending Stanley Cup Champions and are all-in on going for the repeat. Does that mean we could see a trade before the trade deadline?
With the NHL trade deadline rapidly approaching on Feb. 25, there are a number of players believed to be available. But who makes sense for the Caps?
This week, we will be exploring a possible trade deadline target from Monday through Friday and look into why they do and do not make sense for Washington to pursue.
Today’s target: Forward Gustav Nyquist, 29, Detroit Red Wings
Why it makes sense
Detroit isn’t making the playoffs and it makes no sense for them to hold onto a very productive player who will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
Nyquist is currently second on the Red Wings in points with 47. He has top-six skill, but what really jumps out when you watch him play is how opportunistic he is. If the puck is in the offensive zone, he is going to the front of the net for rebounds or deflections and seems to find himself in the perfect position to pick up those high-danger chances. He is also good in his own end of the ice and smart with the breakout whether it means a quick pass out to start the rush or taking it himself.
Why it doesn’t make sense
Nyquist has a no-trade clause. Not a modified no-trade clause, but a full no-trade clause. If he doesn’t want to come to Washington, that’s the end of the discussion. The deal would also mean Detroit would have to retain quite a bit of his salary even if Andre Burakovsky is part of the deal as Nyquist’s cap hit is $4.75 million.
Nyquist may not be the same level of player as an Artemi Panarin, but he is one of the best players available at this year’s deadline and Detroit knows it. This team managed to get a first, second and third round pick last season for Tomas Tatar and he had fewer points when he was traded than Nyquist has now. There is going to be a long line of suitors for Nyquist and that will make this a very, very expensive deal to make for a Caps team that is already without its fifth and sixth round draft picks for 2019.
For me personally, I would never trade a first round pick for a rental. Ever. For a team like Detroit that is rebuilding, you would think a first round draft pick would be the starting point for any deal for Nyquist so that’s a non-starter for me.
Having said that, if there is some way to talk the price down, this would be a great move. Nyquist’s skill level would allow Washington the flexibility to plug him onto the second line to play with fellow Swede Nicklas Backstrom. Then you could move T.J. Oshie down to the third line which would decrease his minutes and allow him to play with Lars Eller who he has chemistry with.
The asking price will be prohibitive and I do not see it happening, but if there’s any way to get it done without having to sell the farm – perhaps a deal similar to the one San Jose made for Evander Kane last season – this would be a heck of a pickup for Washington.
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