With the Capitals struggling as a team, general manager Brian MacLellan moved to address the team's defensive issues with the acquisition of San Jose Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon in exchange for a 2020 second round draft pick and a conditional 2021 third-round pick.
The team announced the move on Tuesday.
As part of the deal, the Sharks will retain 50-percent of Dillon's salary meaning his cap hit for Washington will be $1.635 million according to Cap Friendly. Dillon is on the last year of his contract.
Dillon, 29, is a physical, hard-nosed defenseman who is playing 19:22 per game for a very crowded San Jose blue line. There are a lot of players available at the trade deadline who we ultimately don't know can play in a pressure situation, but Dillon is not one of them. He has been to the postseason four times with the Sharks, helping them reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 and the Western Conference Final last year.
“Brenden is an experienced defenseman who plays a solid defensive game with a high compete level and physicality,” MacLellan said via a statement released by the team. “We felt it was important for us to add a player of his caliber to our defensive group.”
Given the team's recent struggles, there was no question that an upgrade on the blue line was needed. Dillon seems to provide that.
With Dillon on the ice at five-on-five this season, San Jose saw a decrease in shot attempts against within 20 feet from their net relative to the NHL average. Graphics provided by @IneffectiveMath at https://t.co/zBmcTlSPBl pic.twitter.com/IzZ7QpZuTY— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 18, 2020
Dillon appears to be a good compliment for John Carlson and it would not be a surprise to see him eventually step into a top-pair role, especially with Michal Kempny's struggles this season.
The big question now is are the Caps done? Right defense has been a glaring area of need this season and Dillon is a left defenseman. Is the hope that his addition will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the blue line or is another deal perhaps on the horizon? The addition of Dillon leaves Washington with just over $1.077 million to work with at the trade deadline, per Cap Friendly.
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