Trade deadline looms for the Capitals after loss to Dallas


When general manager Brian MacLellan addressed the media on March 2, the Capitals hadn’t given much room for optimism in the previous 60 or so days. 

Their play was inconsistent, they’d slipped in the standings and more importantly, MacLellan felt they’d been passed by a few other Cup-contending teams. It was then that he said he didn’t anticipate the Capitals being as aggressive as usual at the trade deadline

Eighteen days later, the Capitals have seemingly steadied the ship in a massive way. 

They’re 7-1-1 in their nine March games, and despite a not-so-great looking loss to the Stars, there are more reasons to believe in this team than there were three weeks ago. So as the seconds ticked off in the 3-2 loss to the Stars on Sunday at Capital One Arena, attention almost immediately pivoted toward Monday. And like any deadline, no one is exactly sure what will happen. 

“Today, I didn’t feel any different,” center Lars Eller said. “I’ve been on teams that are out of playoffs, then it’s certainly a different vibe when you know that guys are probably gonna get dealt. But I feel like for us it was kind of just another day. Nothing different because of the situation we’re in, I guess.”

The Capitals, as of Sunday evening, sit one point behind the Bruins for the top wild card spot with two more games played. They’re also five points back (with one more game played) of the Rangers and Penguins for second in the division with 18 games left on their schedule. There’s time for the Capitals to maintain their recent streak and vault themselves into the Metropolitan Division side of the bracket, potentially even with home ice in round one. 


But whether or not they get there could be determined by the moves they make, or don’t, on Monday afternoon. 

Rumors have swirled for weeks about what, and whom, the Capitals might acquire at the trade deadline. For now, it appears they’ll at least make calls on a veteran netminder and a middle six forward and see where talks go. Things can change, however, and history has shown they’re certainly not afraid to swing for the fences if they feel the cost is right. 

Judging by the wins Washington has gotten in the last few weeks, and the injuries (to T.J. Oshie, Nic Dowd, Trevor van Riemsdyk and potentially John Carlson) that currently are hampering the team, it’s unclear if that has moved the needle enough to change opinions in the front office. But if it has, almost anything could be on the table.

“It’s a long year and I think there’s always a pocket where you’re good, always a pocket where you’re bad, always a pocket where you’re playing well and don’t get the wins or you’re not playing well and getting the wins,” Laviolette said. 

Monday’s deadline will certainly be a fascinating one for the Capitals, especially considering that the team’s window of Stanley Cup contention with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom will come to an end sooner rather than later. That much is certain.

What isn't certain as of Sunday night, however, is everything else.

The Capitals were, naturally, disappointed by their play Sunday against the Stars — specifically in the first period. But despite it all, the team has still earned 15 of 18 possible points in their last nine games. For now, their play is trending in the right direction. 

Meaning once the clock hit zero at Capital One Arena and the fans headed for the exits, another clock began ticking on the Capitals. And this one will have much more consequential results than a single game could have.