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Capitals bolster their blue line by adding right-shot Nick Jensen in trade with Red Wings

Capitals bolster their blue line by adding right-shot Nick Jensen in trade with Red Wings

Just one day after adding Carl Hagelin to the roster, the Capitals remained busy by acquiring right-shot defenseman Nick Jensen and a fifth-round draft pick from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Madison Bowey and a second-round draft pick in 2020.

Once the trade was made official, the Caps were quick to lock up their new acquisition, re-signing Jensen to a four-year, $10 million contract, according to Isabelle Khurshudyan.

The fifth round pick the Caps receive was originally from the Buffalo Sabres. Darren Dreger was the first to report the trade. 

Brian MacLellan has added at least one defenseman at the trade deadline every year as the Caps’ general manager and this year is now no different. After the home run acquisition of Michal Kempny for cheap last season, the Caps again went for another depth move, though the cost for Jensen proved to be substantially steeper.

Jensen, 28, is a very stout defensive player and a strong skater. He does not add much offensively (two goals, 13 assists in 60 games), but the fact that he is a right-shot defenseman is of huge value.

Prior to the trade, John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Madison Bowey were the only right-handed players among the team’s eight defensemen (including Jonas Siegenthaler, though he is in Hershey). Bowey had seemingly fallen down the depth chart this season and has played in only 33 games.

Jensen does not just add right-shot depth, he adds options.

Jensen is primarily a third-pair defenseman and is likely to play alongside Brooks Orpik, but, given the struggles of the second pair this season and Niskanen in particular, having Jensen could ease some of the pressure on that pair. Jensen is not going to supplant Niskanen in the top-four, but he can play on the penalty kill and be leaned upon to play significant minutes. He averaged 20:48 of ice time with the Red Wings.

If MacLellan was looking for a low-risk, high reward addition, Jensen seems to fit the bill. It doesn’t get much cheaper than Jensen’s total cap hit of $812,500. The price to get him was high, but adding a right-shot defenseman who can be relied upon to play consistently on the third pair is a value add.

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Capitals potential trade deadline target: The case for and against Gustav Nyquist

Capitals potential trade deadline target: The case for and against Gustav Nyquist

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 Gustav Nyquist, 29, Detroit Red Wings

Why it makes sense

Detroit isn’t making the playoffs and it makes no sense for them to hold onto a very productive player who will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

Nyquist is currently second on the Red Wings in points with 47. He has top-six skill, but what really jumps out when you watch him play is how opportunistic he is. If the puck is in the offensive zone, he is going to the front of the net for rebounds or deflections and seems to find himself in the perfect position to pick up those high-danger chances. He is also good in his own end of the ice and smart with the breakout whether it means a quick pass out to start the rush or taking it himself.

Why it doesn’t make sense

Nyquist has a no-trade clause. Not a modified no-trade clause, but a full no-trade clause. If he doesn’t want to come to Washington, that’s the end of the discussion. The deal would also mean Detroit would have to retain quite a bit of his salary even if Andre Burakovsky is part of the deal as Nyquist’s cap hit is $4.75 million.

Nyquist may not be the same level of player as an Artemi Panarin, but he is one of the best players available at this year’s deadline and Detroit knows it. This team managed to get a first, second and third round pick last season for Tomas Tatar and he had fewer points when he was traded than Nyquist has now. There is going to be a long line of suitors for Nyquist and that will make this a very, very expensive deal to make for a Caps team that is already without its fifth and sixth round draft picks for 2019.
 

Verdict

For me personally, I would never trade a first round pick for a rental. Ever. For a team like Detroit that is rebuilding, you would think a first round draft pick would be the starting point for any deal for Nyquist so that’s a non-starter for me.

Having said that, if there is some way to talk the price down, this would be a great move. Nyquist’s skill level would allow Washington the flexibility to plug him onto the second line to play with fellow Swede Nicklas Backstrom. Then you could move T.J. Oshie down to the third line which would decrease his minutes and allow him to play with Lars Eller who he has chemistry with.

The asking price will be prohibitive and I do not see it happening, but if there’s any way to get it done without having to sell the farm – perhaps a deal similar to the one San Jose made for Evander Kane last season – this would be a heck of a pickup for Washington.

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Capitals snap losing skid with narrow win over Red Wings

Capitals snap losing skid with narrow win over Red Wings

Michal Kempny's late goal proved to be the difference in an ugly defensive affair as the Caps edged Detroit 3-2 on Sunday to snap a three-game skid.

Here are four reasons the Caps won.

Point No. 300 for Kuznetsov

Goals have been hard to come by for some of the Caps stars of late. If you can’t score, setting up a teammate for a goal is the next best thing.

Evgeny Kuznetsov has not scored a goal since Dec. 2, but he set up one for Tom Wilson with a brilliant pass right from the slot. Washington top line was caught in a battle in front of Detroit’s net for the loose puck. Three Red Wings collapsed down low in front of goalie Jimmy Howard. A couple of key stick lifts from Kuznetsov prevented Detroit from clearing the puck away.

Kuznetsov stole the puck with his back to the net. He then spun, but instead of shooting right on Howard who was in good position, he swung the puck out to Wilson who was wide open for the goal.

The assist was the 300th point of Kuznetsov’s career. He is just the 25th player in franchise history to reach 300 points.

Braden Holtby’s big second-period save

 Jonas Siegenthaler has not looked like a rookie very often, but there was a moment in the second period he would like to have back.

Siegenthaler had the puck on this backhand behind the net. He skated to the right corner, but was pressured by Jacob de la Rose. Siegenthaler was caught in a bad position so turned to get the puck on the forehand. He gained a bit of space, but then mistakenly tried to pass the puck up the middle from behind the red line.

Kids, never do that.

De la Rose got a stick on the puck and suddenly was in on Holtby for a dangerous opportunity. Holtby bailed out the young defenseman with a strong save on the backhand shot to keep the deficit at one.

Alex Ovechkin’s sneaky pass

Ovechkin is known for his big goals, but it was a big-time pass that changed this game in the third period.

Brett Connolly fed Ovechkin on the rush on the left which drew the defense to him. Ovechkin cut back to gain space and had plenty of room to shoot which just about everyone expected him to do. Instead, he fed Travis Boyd who scored on a yawning net.

Tie game.

Michal Kempny, Red Wings killer

Modern analytics have shown us it’s pretty hard to score from distance. Kempny, however, seems to be finding plenty of success doing just that lately, especially against the Red Wings.

With the game tied at two, Kempny took a pass at the blue line from dead center in the ice and let loose a wrister through traffic. Just about everyone tried to get a piece of it, but it appeared the puck sailed through all the bodies and past Howard into the back of the net. There may have been a deflection off a Red Wings player, but it was not clear from the replay.

The late third period goal proved to be the game-winner in an ugly defensive battle. Kempny now has five goals this season and two in the last four games. He also has two game-winners against Detroit this season as he scored on Nov. 23 when the Red Wings visited Capital One Arena.

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