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 Wayne Simmonds, 30, Philadelphia Flyers
Why it makes sense
The Flyers have won nine of their last 10 games, but Simmonds will likely still be on the move before the trade deadline as they remain longshots to reach the postseason, Simmonds is on the final year of his contract, and he is too valuable a player for the team to let walk away for nothing.
The Caps have the talent to play a number of different styles, but at their core, they are a physical team. The Tampa Bay Lightning were a much more talented team, but Washington beat both them and Vegas up in the playoffs. That would make Simmonds, a physical winger, an ideal fit for Washington.
Simmonds’ cap hit is $3.975 million and the Caps have virtually no cap space. For a top-6 player like Simmonds, a trade would almost certainly have to include Andre Burakovsky, who is one of their biggest trade assets. With his $3 million off the books, it shouldn’t be too hard to convince Philadelphia to retain the rest of Simmonds’ salary as part of the deal. That’s always an easier pill for teams to swallow for players on the final year of their contract — as is trading within the division.
Simmonds is a tough guy to play against, is a strong skater and always gets in front of the net, something this Capitals team definitely does not do enough. He can win the physical battles in the high-danger areas in front of the net and along the boards.
Simmonds could play on the second line and bump T.J. Oshie down to the third, but more likely, he would probably replace Burakovsky on the third. Adding a top-6 player is a heck of a way for a team to add some depth before the playoffs.
Why it doesn’t make sense
Simmonds has a modified no-trade clause and can submit a 12-team no-trade list. He would have to agree to the trade first, or there’s nothing to talk about.
If you don’t include the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, Simmonds is on pace for his worst statistical season since 2010-11 when he was playing for the Los Angeles Kings. His production has decreased steadily over the past three seasons and, given his physical style of play, there’s a reasonable case to be made that he is on the decline. Considering his struggles this season, he would most likely be targeted for a third-line role in Washington. But Philadelphia doesn’t care how the Caps will use him, they will sell Simmonds as a top-6 player, which means the asking price is going to be high.
Washington has a better, younger version of Simmonds already on the roster in Tom Wilson. Does it make sense to pay a king’s ransom for an older version who's not as good?
Plus, while Philadelphia remains unlikely to reach the playoffs, it is still a possibility. For a non-playoff team, trading a player on an expiring contract within the division doesn’t mean anything, as he will move on to another team the next season. So long as the Flyers remain in contention to reach the postseason, they most likely would prefer seeing Simmonds shipped off to another division, if not another conference.
The asking price here will be too large for a trade to make sense for Washington, especially given Simmonds’ steady decline in production in both the regular season and the playoffs. I just don’t see this one as a realistic option unless the market completely dries up.
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