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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