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NHL Trade Deadline: What are the Capitals' options to improve their defense?

NHL Trade Deadline: What are the Capitals' options to improve their defense?

The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 24 and it's not hard to spot the biggest need for the Capitals. Defense is the team's weakness and specifically right defenseman on the second pair. Nick Jensen and Radko Gudas are both good third-pair defensemen, but Washington needs someone to plug into the second pair to help bolster the defense.

Cap Friendly estimates the Caps will have just under $3 million of cap space by the trade deadline to work with. Add in the fact that teams can retain up to 50-percent of a player's cap hit in a trade and the Caps could possibly afford a defenseman with a cap hit just shy of $6 million.

Who could they target? Here are some names of possible players available, what they would add and how realistic a target they really are.

Tony DeAngelo, New York Rangers

Age: 24

Cap hit: $925,000 

Contract expires: 2020 

What he adds: DeAngelo is an offensive defenseman in the midst of a career year with 13 goals and 29 assists in 55 games. He has been a big part of the power play this season with 14 of his points coming on the man advantage. That's more than Evgeny Kuznetsov (12), T.J. Oshie (12), Jakub Vrana (10) and Dmitry Orlov (5).

Is this a realistic trade? it's not going to happen. If you are looking for someone to pair with Orlov, I don't see DeAngelo as a fit. Plus, New York is not going to do this.

At some point the Rangers are going to have to make some difficult decisions when it comes to the salary cap and moving DeAngelo is a real possibility. Having said that, there is no way they send him to the Caps. Yes, DeAngelo is on the last year of his contract and the Rangers aren't going to the playoffs this year, but DeAngelo is not a rental. He will be a restricted free agent without arbitration rights so he's not going anywhere unless he gets traded.

If New York chooses to trade DeAngelo, if, it's not going to be in the division where a team can retain him for years to come.

Dylan DeMelo, Ottawa Senators

Age: 26

Cap hit: $900,000 

Contract expires: 2020 

What he adds: This is an interesting player. He is more of a defense-first style defenseman who is playing a top-four role on a bad Ottawa team. On the one hand, it is fair to wonder if a player in the top-four for a bad team can handle top-four minutes for a team in pressure situations. But there are some encouraging underlying numbers that suggest he could be up to the task.

DeMelo has a 51.66 Corsi-For percentage on a really bad team. He also has a strong high-danger chances for percentage with 57.14. This is a player used in a primarily defensive role so his stats are not inflated by sheltered minutes.

Is this a realistic trade? Any player on an expiring contract should be considered on the trade block for an awful Ottawa team that needs the assets. You also can't beat the cap hit. DeMelo is a realistic target for any team looking to bolster the right side of its defense. I could see a lot of teams interested in him as a depth piece, but if the Caps think he can handle a top-four role alongside Orlov I could see them willing to outbid a lot of teams here considering how vital it is that they improve the defense.

Brenden Dillon, San Jose Sharks

Age: 29

Cap hit: $3,3270,000 

Contract expires: 2020

What he adds: A physical, hard-nosed defenseman who is playing 19:18 per game for a very crowded San Jose blue line. His skillset is such that he's not going to break the bank in terms of a trade. I can't see anyone going as high as a first-round pick for him. There are a lot of players on this list who we ultimately don't know can play in a pressure situation, but Dillon 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.

Is this a realistic trade? Dillon shoots left and the Caps' biggest need is on the right so this is an unlikely move. The only thing to consider is what is the level of concern over Michal Kempny who has struggled this season? If left defenseman on the top pair is a concern, perhaps they do go after Dillon and rotate him and Orlov on the top pair based on situation (Dillion in defensive situations, Orlov in offensive situations). That is still unlikely because it would be still mean having to get a right defenseman and shuffling the entire top six. Going into the playoffs with a completely different look on defense with a blue line that includes two new players in the top six is a massive gamble that you only take if you have completely lost all faith in Kempny.

Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild

Age: 25

Cap hit: $6,000,000 

Contract expires: 2023

What he adds: Dumba is a top-four right defenseman with offensive potential. He is in a down year with only four goals and 16 assists where usually his goals are in the 10-14 range. His career-high in points is 50 which he did in 2017-18. While you should not expect him to step into Washington and start producing at that pace, he is only 25 and still getting better.

Is this a realistic trade? We just saw Minnesota trade away Jason Zucker who also came with a lot of term. Despite some defiant talk from general manager Bill Guerin about not quitting on the season, you don't trade away Zucker this late in the season or fire your head coach after a 4-1-1 stretch if you are focused on winning now. That means anyone could potentially be available for the right price, especially Dumba when you consider the Wild just added a high-end right-shot defenseman in Calen Addison who was acquired in the Zucker trade.

Having said that, I don't think the Caps could afford Dumba's cap hit even if the Wild retain the maximum 50-percent of his salary. Plus, if you want a defenseman of Dumba's caliber and a team to retain 50-percent of his cap hit through the 2022-23 season -- which is the only way in which this deal would be even remotely realistic for Washington -- it's going to cost you. I don't think Minnesota would be interested in making this deal and I don't think the Caps would be interested in trading away what it would cost to do it.

Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings

Age: 34

Cap hit: $5,375,000 

Contract expires: 2020

What he adds: Nostalgia. Green is an offensive defenseman who could help bolster the power play, but let's face it, what he really adds is nostalgia. That's the only thing driving this narrative.

Is this a realistic trade? I can't imagine the Caps having any interest in this trade. Sure, maybe adding Green would benefit the power play, but doing so would come at the expense of the defense which is the real issue.

If the problem is that the Caps have two third-pair defensemen, what good is it to add a third? Because that's what Green is, a third-pair defenseman who is not good in his own zone and is injury-prone.

Tim Heed, San Jose Sharks

Age: 28

Cap hit: $960,000

Contract expires: 2020

What he adds: If MacLellan wants to go for more of a Kempny-type move -- finding an under-utilized defenseman who could contribute more for the Caps with a bigger role -- then Heed could be a possible target. He has been in and out of the lineup for the Sharks this season and has played in only 25 games, but his Corsi-For and high-danger chances for percentages are the second-best among defensemen on the team.

Is this a realistic trade? It depends on what the scouts think of him. Maybe they think he is a No. 7 which is what he is in San Jose, in which case adding him would contribute nothing. But what was Kempny in 2018 when the Caps acquired him from Chicago?

If Washington were to inquire about a player who is not playing and is on an expiring contract playing on a team who is not going to the playoffs this season, I can't imagine they would not be willing to talk. I would expect Heed would be someone the team could convince the Sharks to part with very easily and for next to nothing if the scouts like him.

Josh Manson, Anaheim Ducks

Age: 28

Cap hit: $4,100,000

Contract expires: 2022

What he adds: You can never be sure how a player will play for a new team, but Manson is a bonafide top-four right defenseman in his prime who checks every single box the Caps could want. He plays a top-pair role in Anaheim and is more of a defensive player who would be a perfect compliment for Orlov, while still being a mobile player who can jump into the rush if needed. He is also a good puck-mover and his underlying numbers are all positive despite playing on an awful Anaheim team.

And what's more, he comes with term as his contract does not expire until 2022.

Is this a realistic trade? In his 31 Thoughts column on Feb. 5, Elliotte Friedman quotes one general manager as saying, "Your wife does not love you as much as the Ducks love [Manson]." Yes, the Ducks are bad, yes they should be focused on a rebuild and yes, Manson should be able to procure a hefty return. Having said that, he is still in his prime and still under contract and I don't know that it makes sense for Anaheim to make this move. Sure, they could be posturing to other GMs to get his value up even higher, but I would not be surprised if Manson is not moved at all and remains with the Ducks. It is going to take an overpay just to get Anaheim to the table and the Caps would still be behind the eight ball because they would need Anaheim to retain salary, a big ask for a player still under contract until 2022.

But if Anaheim has any interest at all in moving Manson, the Caps should move Heaven and Earth to get him.

Last year, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded a first-round pick and two high-end prospects to get Jake Muzzin. Would you want to see the Caps trade a first-round pick, Martin Fehervary and Aliaksei Protas to get Manson? What if that wasn't enough? I'm not saying I wouldn't do it, I'm just saying if Washington does it you should prepare yourselves for a massive package going in the other direction.

Alec Martinez, Los Angeles Kings

Age: 32

Cap hit: $4,000,000

Contract expires: 2021

What he adds: Martinez may be a left shot, but he routinely plays on the right which is why he could be a fit for Washington. He also has two Stanley Cup rings so you know he can play in pressure situations. He's a defensive player, plus the fact that he is a left shot could give Reirden a lot of options for what he wants to do with the top six heading into the postseason.

Is this a realistic trade? There is no reason why Martinez should still be with the Kings when the deadline passes. As one of the bigger name players on the trade block, he will likely draw a crowd of interested suitors. If the Caps want him they better be sure because competition could drive up the price.

Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens

Age: 32

Cap hit: $5,500,000

Contract expires: 2021

What he adds: Petry can contribute at both ends of the ice as a strong, two-way defenseman. He averages 23:36 per game, second in Montreal only to Shea Weber. His abilities as a top-four player are not in doubt and he would be a good compliment to Orlov.

Is this a realistic trade? Petry has a 15-team no-trade list so Washington would have to make the cut of teams he would be willing to go to. But really, I don't know that general manager Marc Bergevin would even want to move him.

Montreal has drafted 21 players in the last two years and has an additional 11 draft picks in 2020 (there are seven rounds in the NHL draft so teams start with seven per year). They have made the playoffs once in the past four seasons (soon to be five when they miss this year) and have not won a playoff round since 2015. This is not a team looking to tear it all down and start over, I think they see themselves on the back-end of the rebuild and I don't think draft picks are going to get this deal done. It is going to take roster players or NHL-ready prospects. I don't see the Caps as having enough of either to spare to make the Canadiens seriously consider this.

Sami Vatanen, New Jersey Devils

Age: 28

Cap hit: $4,875,000

Contract expires: 2020

What he adds: A bonafide top-four defenseman, he has five goals and 18 assists and, on a team that has almost to a man underachieved this year, Vatanen is one of the few players having a decent season. 

Is this a realistic trade? Vatanen is on IR with a bruised right leg and has not played since Feb. 1 which is not ideal. He is going to have to return to the ice and show he is healthy before anyone is trading for him. Maybe that lowers the asking price, but bolstering the defense is so critical to the Caps' Cup hopes I am not sure it makes sense to make this kind of gamble when there are other options out there.

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Watch: Sergei Ovechkin dancing is the cutest thing you'll see all day

Watch: Sergei Ovechkin dancing is the cutest thing you'll see all day

Welcome to Club Ovechkin hosted by yours truly, Sergei!

Wednesday afternoon Nastya Ovechkin posted the cutest video of her son Sergei, now 19-months-old and showing off his dance moves.

Sergei was getting down to Зацепила (“Hooked”) by musician and family friend Arthur Pirozhkov.

He's got some moves for a one-year-old so who knows what other skills he'll get from momma and papa Ovechkin. 

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With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 3

With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 3

While we wait for the NHL to hopefully resume its season, NBC Sports Washington is looking back at the 20 best wins of the Capitals' season so far. Mark Zaner, producer for Caps Faceoff Live and Caps Overtime Live, has watched every game. His rankings continue with No. 3, a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 9 that featured a complete effort from the Capitals, a first for Jonas Siegenthaler and some pregame espionage from Brent Johnson. 

You can re-watch the game tonight on NBC Sports Washington at 8pm. 

WHAT HAPPENED 

In a 2018 Stanley Cup Finals rematch, and perhaps a matchup you could see in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, Washington came out flying. Dmitry Orlov feathered a perfect two-line pass past three Golden Knights defenders and right to Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov had no problem beating Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury 58 seconds into the game 

 

The Capitals make it 2-0 just minutes later. Amid a line change, the Knights coughed up the puck in their own end. Tom Wilson, who was about to go off the ice, jumped back into the attack and beat Fleury with a wrist shot. 

 

Two Vegas goals sandwiched a Siegenthaler tally to make it 3-2 Capitals entering the third period. Enter Nicklas Backstrom. His first goal came on the power play. With all the Knights attention focused on Ovechkin, Backstrom threw a wrister on Fleury from the right faceoff circle. Fleury got a piece of it, but let it trickle through for the score.  

 

Backstrom scored a rare empty-net goal late in the period instead of deferring to Ovechkin. The Capitals owned the third period on their way to an impressive 5-2 win. 

MEMORABLE MOMENTS 

Siegenthaler made his NHL debut on Nov. 9 in 2018. Exactly one year later he scored his first career goal. Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd executed a picture-perfect dump-and-chase. Boyd waited in the corner for a line change and fed Siegenthaler, who was streaking to the net without anyone marking him. 

  

WHY IT WAS SIGNIFICANT 

If you look at the rest of my Top 10 Caps wins, most of the games are exciting comebacks or see-saw affairs. Games that were generally exciting to watch or something crazy happened. This game makes the list because it’s peak Washington Capitals. This team was playing almost flawless hockey from the middle of October through the end of November. This was Washington’s sixth straight win. In this game, the Caps got more shots, earned more power plays, won more faceoffs, blocked more shots and out-hit their opponent. And they weren’t playing the Ducks (entry #9) or the Kings (#7). The Vegas Golden Knights were - and are - a legitimate Western Conference contender. I would argue that the Capitals win over Vegas was their best 60-minute effort against a quality opponent all season long.  
 
WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT 

Backstrom was an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick. Backstrom and T.J. Oshie started a bit of a fight towards the end of the second period. Not a shock to see the Caps and Knights chirp at each other, but it was unusual to see those two at the center of it. 

 

If Fleury looked a little sluggish, he might have had a good excuse. NBC Sports Washington’s Brent Johnson, who played with Fleury in Pittsburgh, took his good friend out to a big steak dinner the night before the game. That’s how you work the long con. Good job, Johnny. 

 

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