The New York Islanders, tied for the top spot in the East Division with the Capitals, made the first major splash of the NHL Trade Deadline Wednesday when they acquired forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils.
Washington is pressed up against the salary cap but could have room for a depth piece depending on where GM Brian MacLellan sees the roster needing an upgrade. After they waived right winger Richard Panik this week, the Capitals’ third line has an opening.
NBC Sports Washington’s Capitals analyst Alan May joined the Sports Junkies on Thursday morning and explained why he thinks a new center could go a long way toward padding the team’s depth.
“I’m gonna trade for a centerman,” May said. “I’m gonna get a guy out there that can play, maybe a top-nine guy, but certainly he’s a third-line type of player who can play center and wing. Because really the third line is not getting enough done right now. Panik was waived yesterday. The defense, I’m fine with, absolutely fine with. Even though they look horrible. They didn’t look so great on the road trip and I think that’s because the forwards weren’t doing their job.
“To me, the biggest thing is that they have to have third-line depth and they’ve got to find a centerman as well because we’ve seen when they’ve missed [Evgeny] Kuznetsov or [Lars] Eller, they don’t look so good. So they definitely need to bolster that part of their lineup.”
The Capitals were without both Kuznetsov and Eller earlier this season, testing their center depth to the point where winger T.J. Oshie was taking faceoffs. Nicklas Backstrom has been a dependable mainstay on the first line all season but the Capitals could benefit from some consistency behind him.
Washington has lost three of its last five games, including two to the Islanders.
For more interviews, tune into the Sports Junkies on NBC Sports Washington, weekdays from 6-10 a.m.