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Capitals trade for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

Capitals trade for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

NEW YORK—The NHL-leading Capitals are officially all in.

On Monday night, the team swooped in and snagged the biggest prize available at the trade deadline, acquiring defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and goaltender Pheonix Copley from the Blues in exchange for a 2017 first round pick, prospect Zach Sanford, minor leaguer Brad Malone and conditional pick(s).

The Blues will also retain 39-percent of Shattenkirk’s 4.25 million salary. 

Shattenkirk is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

In 61 games with the Blues this season, the puck-moving 28-year-old has racked up 11 goals and 31 assists, good for third (tied) and seventh among defensemen, respectively. He also gives the Caps a third right-handed shot on the blue line, joining Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

The team hopes to have Shattenkirk in the lineup against the Rangers on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

RELATED: Will the Shattenkirk trade force the Caps into another deadline deal?

“We are excited to welcome Kevin to our organization,” Caps General Manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “We felt it was important to acquire another defenseman to strengthen and add depth to our blue line. Kevin is a skilled, puck moving defenseman who we think will help our team at even strength and on the power play.”

Here’s a breakdown of the conditional pick(s):

  • Should the Caps re-sign Shattenkirk to contract that includes the 2017-18 season or should the Caps advance to the third round of this year’s playoffs and Shattenkirk plays in at least 50.0-perceent of the playoff games in the first two rounds, then the Blues will receive the Caps’ second round draft pick in 2019.
  • If the Caps trade Shattenkirk on or before July 1, then the Blues receive the Caps’ own next available seventh round draft pick. But if the Caps receive a draft pick in return for Shattenkirk that is a fourth round pick or earlier, then in lieu of the Caps’ next available seventh round draft pick, the Blues get the Caps’ own next available draft pick two rounds later than the earliest draft pick received by the Caps in exchange for Shattenkirk. (For example, if the Caps trade Shattenkirk for a 3rd round draft pick, then the Blues the Caps’ own next available 5th round pick.)

In a sit down interview session last week, MacLellan told reporters that he felt this year’s team was the most complete of the Alex Ovechkin Era. But the general manager also said he felt a responsibility to give Ovi and Co. everything they needed to make a deep run this spring.    

“I have to do my job,” MacLellan said. “I have to pursue anything that I think could…make us better. And when we get down to the nitty-gritty, you either say yes or no. And it’s going to be based on what effect it’s going to have on our team.”

The effect, on paper at least, is huge considering Shattenkirk’s ability to make an impact at both ends of the ice.

Shattenkirk is averaging about 20 minutes a game this season but he’s played 22-plus minutes in recent years. He’s also a force on the power play. In fact, he’s tied for second among all defensemen in power play goals (7) and is tied for third in power play assists (20).

The Capitals now have eight NHL defensemen on the roster—and a ninth, Tom Gilbert, in Hershey. Shattenkirk’s arrival will push a regular contributor out of the lineup altogether while relegating another to emergency duty.

Copley, meantime, returns to the Capitals. He was dealt to St. Louis two years ago in the Troy Brouwer for T.J. Oshie swap.

“We are also pleased to welcome Pheonix back to the organization,” MacLellan said. “We feel his addition solidifies our goaltending tandem in Hershey.”

The lone player on the Caps’ roster going the other way—Sanford—opened the season on the Caps’ roster but struggled to produce and was eventually sent to the Bears for some seasoning. The rookie worked his way back to the bigs, however, and was currently enjoying his best stretch in the NHL, having recorded his first two NHL goals earlier this month.

MacLellan is expected to speak to reporters Tuesday morning.

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz admits Ovechkin was "off" during Saturday's game

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Do the Caps have the offense to win the Stanley Cup?

Do the Caps have the offense to win the Stanley Cup?

The bye week and the all-star break are upon us meaning we will have to wait until Jan. 27 for the Capitals to take the ice again for a game. With the season over halfway done and the Feb. 24 trade deadline rapidly approaching, the focus of the season now shifts towards the playoffs.

Washington has certainly done enough at this point to show they are a playoff team, but just how good are they? Are they a true contender or are they destined for an early exit?

Over the next few days, I will examine the team to answer if it is good enough on offense, defense and in net to win a Cup and, if not, what they must do to improve by April.

Today’s question: Do the Caps have the offense to win the Stanley Cup?

Team stats
3.55 goals per game (1st in the NHL)
20.3-percent power play (13th in the NHL)

Goal leaders
1. Alex Ovechkin 34
2. Jakub Vrana 22
3. T.J. Oshie 18

Assist leaders
1. John Carlson 47
2. Nicklas Backstrom 29
3. Evgeny Kuznetsov 26

Point leaders
1. John Carlson 60
2. Alex Ovechkin 50
3. Evgeny Kuznetsov 42

Just in case you forgot about Ovechkin, he just let everyone know that yes, he is still outrunning Father Time with eight goals in the past three games. He remains one of the top scorers in the league, that is beyond dispute and so is this team's the top-six.

Backstrom, Wilson, Vrana, Kuznetsov and Oshie round out one of the best top two lines in the NHL. There are only a few minor concerns with this group.

Vrana and Kuznetsov have proven to be streaky performers. When they are hot, they are among the top offensive players in the NHL. Vrana is actually tied with David Pastrnak for third in the NHL in even-strength goals with 21. He is as dangerous a goal-scorer as just about anyone in the league. And everyone knows how good Kuznetsov can be at his peak. Just look at the 2018 Cup run.

You just have to cross your fingers and hope Vrana and Kuznetsov don’t get cold in the postseason because when their production tapers off, it craters.

Moving on to the bottom-six, let’s start with the fourth line because it is easier. Brendan Leipsic, Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway is one of, if not the outright best fourth line in hockey. They are able to hem opponents into the offensive zone and allow very little in the way of scoring opportunities. If you put any credence into things like Corsi, Nic Dowd is the best on the team with a Corsi-For percentage of 57.22 while Leipsic is 54.04 and Hathaway is 54.43. In a nutshell, what that means is this line is generating a heck of a lot more offensive opportunities than it is allowing which is a huge asset to have for a fourth line.

What’s more, these guys are the kind of players you hate to play against. Hathaway and Leipsic both play with an edge and Leipsic has a fair amount of speed as well. They have to make sure they limit the penalties they take, but otherwise this line is a huge asset.

That brings us to the third line.

While the offense is starting to pick up slightly, overall the numbers have just not been there. Lars Eller is doing fine with 11 goals and 16 assists, but Richard Panik is having a tough first year with five goals and five assists while Carl Hagelin has only three goals and eight assists and that’s including the two goals he scored in the past week.

Even as the line continues to improve, I do not think at its peak it is going to prove to be as good offensively as once hoped.

The third line has definitely found a role as a shutdown line, however, which is how Reirden has been utilizing them of late, using them to shut-down one of the opposition’s top lines both to limit their offense and also to free up Ovechkin’s line by getting it away from that matchup.

That’s easier to do at home, now Reirden has to figure out just how to best utilize the third line one the road where it is tougher to get the matchups you want.

Overall, however, this line is trending in the right direction. The power play, however, is not.

Though it ranks 13th in the NHL, that percentage is being propped up by a good start. Since Dec. 1, the power play ranks 30th in the NHL at 14.1-percent. The offense has just been non-existent. The struggles have clearly gone to the head of the players because it becomes a comedy of errors on the ice every time the team gets the man advantage. Reirden has tried Vrana on the top unit in Kuznetsov’s spot, but that spot is not well suited for Vrana as he is a sniper and Kuznetsov plays primarily around the goal line where shots are hard to come by. Kuznetsov on the second unit is largely wasted as there is not enough scoring talent on that unit for him to set up.

The result is two power play units playing without confidence and not producing while also allowing far too many shorthanded goals.

The verdict: Yes, the Caps have the offense to win the Cup.

In terms of the personnel, it is hard to get better than what the Caps have. The top two lines are loaded with talent and the fourth line is the best at what it does. The offense is lacking on the third line, but Reirden has found a role for it in which it can still have a positive impact on the game and its offensive production seems to be improving.

The only real concern is the power play, not only because it is completely ineffective but because the team is pressing so hard it has allowed five shorthanded goals, tied for the most in the league. As bad as it is, however, I think this is a case of frustration making things worse. With the personnel this team has, there is no reason for it to be producing at only 14.1-percent. Once they string a few goals together, things will turn around. I don’t think it will be among the most potent in the NHL, but I do think this is a low point and a natural progression will occur.

After the power play, however, it is hard to find a more potent offense than the one assembled in Washington.


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Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

The Capitals may not be participating in Stadium Series this year, but the team is embracing outdoor hockey around Washington for spirited game day fun.

The Caps are hosting Rock The Rink skates at The Wharf, Penatgon Row, Rockville Town Square and The Avenue at White Marsh on select game days from January to March 2020. Fans attending these events can wear Capitals jerseys or gear to get either $5 off admission or free skate rentals.

The Wharf

Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., Jan. 31 at 6 p.m., and Feb 17. at 1 p.m.

Transit Pier will boast a Capitals-paneled ice rink with an ice resurfacer, trivia contests, giveaways, along with a DJ. The Capitals Campire will also boast Adirondack chairs around a fire to roast marshmallows for smores in front of a 14-foot jumbotron screen to watch the Capitals games. 

Pentagon Row

Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m.

These skates will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants. The Caps games will also be on at surrounding bars. 

The Avenue at White March

Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

This event will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants.

Rockville Town Square

Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. and March 5 at 6 p.m.

In addition to the above fun, Rockville native and Capitals hockey ambassador Haley Skarupa will be there on Jan. 31. You can watch the Capitals game at local bars as well. 

Fans attending these events or using local outdoor rinks this season are encouraged to post about it on social media by tagging @capitals and using the hashtag #RockTheRink to enter themselves for a chance to win prizes.

Caps slept through the first 40 minutes, they did not give Holtby much help though he was bad in his own right and Vrana sure did show something with the game-winning goal.

As for no penalties...not so much.