With little money left to work with and players left to sign, the Capitals traded winger Marcus Johansson to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday in exchange for a second and third round draft pick. The second round pick was originally from the Florida Panthers and the third round pick was originally from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The team’s dire cap situation already led to the departure of Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner and Justin Williams in free agency. In the wake of Evgeny Kuznetsov signing an eight-year deal with Washington that carries a cap hit of $7.8 million, it was clear the team had to make a move to clear up cap space from its roster.
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By trading Johansson, the Capitals freed up nearly $4.6 million of cap space for next season. According to the website Cap Friendly, the Capitals currently have about $9.2 million of space left under the salary cap with 14 players under contract for next season. The maximum number of players for an NHL roster is 23.
Even after trading Johansson, general manager Brian MacLellan still has work left to do. Andre Burakovsky and Philipp Grubauer are both in need of new contracts as restricted free agents. The team only has five defensemen signed and will need to find two more, including a top-four player to replace Nate Schmidt.
Without much money to work with, the Capitals could explore another trade or, more likely, it could suggest the team will have a much younger look to it for next season. Jakub Vrana looks poised to make the jump to the NHL and the team’s fourth line also has two openings. Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos could also both be in play to be in the team’s top six on defense next season.
Johansson, who will turn 27 in October, was a first-round draft pick of the Caps in 2009. In seven seasons in Washington, Johansson has scored 102 goals and 290 points. He just completed the first year of a three-year contract he signed in the summer of 2016.
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The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!
After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.
JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.
Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.
In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.
Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.
But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.
Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.
[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]
Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.
While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.
In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020.
Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short.
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