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Caps may be reluctant to deal first-round pick

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Caps may be reluctant to deal first-round pick

Historically, there are two big trading windows on the NHL calendar – the days leading up to the annual trade deadline, and the days leading up to the NHL draft.

Last year, there were 23 trades consummated in the days leading up to and including the 2014 NHL draft in Philadelphia.

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan made three of them, trading three late-round picks for depth goaltender Edward Pasquale and the 159th selection of this year’s draft; sending the 104th and 118th picks to the Rangers for the 89th pick in the 2014 draft, which the Caps used to take Australian forward Nathan Walker; and sending the 44th and 74th picks in 2014 to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for the 39th pick, which the Caps used to select Czech goaltender Vitek Vanecek.

At next weekend’s draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., thanks to a trade deadline deals for forward Curtis Glencross, which cost the Caps a second- and third-rounder in this year’s draft, and defenseman Tim Gleason, which cost the Caps defenseman Jack Hillen and a fourth-rounder, the Caps own just five picks in the seven-round draft.

They are:

Round 1 – 22nd overall

Round 3 – 62nd overall [from Buffalo]

Round 4 – 113th overall

Round 5 – 143rd overall

Round 6 – 173rd overall

MacLellan has said he would like to acquire a top-line right wing through a trade, but considering the Caps’ restraints with the salary cap he would might be more inclined to deal a roster player with salary than one of the club’s five draft picks. In fact, MacLellan may look to add picks in this years draft, possibly using the negotiating rights to UFA defenseman Mike Green as a trade chip, the way he did with Jaroslav Halak last year when he pried a fourth-round pick from the Islanders for the goalie’s rights.

On the flip side of that formula, the Caps could also part with a draft pick if they thought it would give them better leverage to acquire a pending UFA like Los Angeles Kings veteran right wing Justin Williams.

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If the Caps intend to find a top-line right wing such as Patrick Sharp [two years, $5.9 million], Radim Vrbata [one year, $5 million] or T.J. Oshie [two years, $4.175 million] through a draft-day trade, they likely would need to part with their first-round pick and in a draft considered deep in talent, they might be unwilling to part with their 22nd overall pick.

The Caps have had at least one first-round pick in 12 of their last 13 drafts and while this will be their first time picking at No. 22, they’ve fared well in the bottom third of the first round, finding Andre Burakovsky [23rd in 2013], Evgeny Kuznetsov [26th in 2010], Marcus Johansson [24th in 2009], John Carlson [27th in 2008], Semyon Varlamov [23rd in 2006] and Mike Green [29th in 2004].

Stay with us as we spend the next week previewing the 2015 NHL draft and the moves the Capitals may be making leading up to it. 

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In a surprise twist, Barry Trotz takes The Hot Lap ahead of Game 7

In a surprise twist, Barry Trotz takes The Hot Lap ahead of Game 7

TAMPA—Head Coach Barry Trotz skated the hot lap prior to Wednesday’s Game 7 at Amalie Arena, taking over the superstitious tradition from captain Alex Ovechkin.

Why the change?

The Caps lost Game 5 here on Saturday. And when the Caps lose on the road—the only place where the morning-skate-starting hot lap takes place—a new skater is selected.

The weird tradition began in the first round at Nationwide Arena in Columbus when Jay Beagle grew tired of waiting for the ice to freeze over following a fresh Zamboni cut. Beagle's teammates implored him to wait a little longer for the ice to cure, but he grew impatient and took it upon himself to kick off the skate by racing around the rink, a la the fastest skater competition at the All Star Skills competition.

Ovechkin took it over prior to Game 6 in Pittsburgh because the Caps had lost Game 4 at PPG Paints Arena.

Ovechkin proudly carried on the tradition as Washington won three in a row—Game 6 in Pittsburgh and Games 1 and 2 of this series vs. Tampa Bay.

Following the Caps’ 3-2 defeat in Game 5 here, though, it was expected that a change would be made.

And on Wednesday morning the baton changed hands, with the least obvious of all the Caps busting his 55-year-old hump around the rink much to the delight of his players and assistants.

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Regardless of what happens in Game 7, these are not the 'same old Caps'

Regardless of what happens in Game 7, these are not the 'same old Caps'

These are not the same old Caps.

Heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final on Monday, there was a lot of handwringing around Washington and with good reason. The Capitals were facing elimination for the first time this postseason. Of course the fans were on edge; no one wanted this run to end.

But even though the Caps are competing for the conference crown and have gotten past their archrivals to get here, the refrains leading into Game 6 were the same ones we’ve heard from past years.

 “They don’t want it enough.”

“There’s no heart.”

“Totally outcoached.”

“Chokers.”

And perhaps most damning, “Same old Caps.”

Stop it already.

Seriously, how can anyone have watched this postseason and walked away thinking this is the same Caps team?

Does no one remember the start of the season? Some people didn’t even think they would make the playoffs. Others were advocating the team trade Alex Ovechkin and start over. Yet here they are.

Finally, finally they got past the second round hump. They beat the Pittsburgh Penguins—ending their two-year reign as Stanley Cup Champions—and handed Mike Sullivan his first ever series loss as the Penguins head coach.

And no, Mike Wilbon, just because they made it past the second round doesn’t mean it’s OK to lose in the Conference Finals. But considering how they got there, they showed they have at the very least changed the narrative surrounding the Capitals.

Washington lost the first two games of its series against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round and went on to win four straight to advance. In the second round, they faced the two-time defending champions, a team they had beaten only once in the playoffs in franchise history and a team that had not lost a playoff series since 2015.

And they won.

And yet, people are acting like nothing changed with the Caps. Why? Because they lost three in a row to Tampa Bay?

OK, you've got a point. What kind of a team loses three straight in the playoffs? Hard-nosed teams with tough coaches that play the right way like Columbus or Anaheim wouldn’t let that happen to them. Oh, actually Columbus lost four in a row to the Caps and the Ducks got swept in the first round. Never mind.

Well, certainly not a team with a championship history like the Los Angeles Kings. Oh wait, never mind, the got swept by Vegas. Bad example.

Well, surely an original six team with a championship pedigree like the Boston Bruins would never let that happen. Oh yeah, they lost four straight to the same Tampa Bay team.

OK, OK, but were any of those teams really contenders this year? I mean, none of those teams were as good as Winnipeg and they won’t let themselves lose three in a row in the playoffs.

That’s because they lost four straight to Vegas in the conference final.

You see where this is going, right?

It just boggles the mind that anyone could see the game plan Barry Trotz put together in Game 6 in Pittsburgh, without three top-six forwards including Nicklas Backstrom, and win in overtime and still complain that he is always outcoached in the playoffs. He certainly wasn’t outcoached in that game or that series.

It’s baffling that anyone can see how Washington rallied past Columbus after losing Game 1 and Game 2, recovered from a disastrous Game 1 to Pittsburgh and won the first two games in Tampa Bay against a favored Lightning team and complain that this team “doesn’t want it enough.”

Chokers don’t advance to the third round. Chokers don’t beat the two-time defending champions when no one else could. Chokers don’t force seven games against a Tampa Bay team that finished off both of their prior series in just five games.

Just stop. Find a new storyline to push because this one is lazy and played out. It’s been done.

Don’t get me wrong, losing four in a row after winning Game 1 and Game 2 on the road would have really stung. With the history this team has, the fact that they finally got past Pittsburgh gave this team a feel of destiny. If they go on to lose Game 7 and end their run without a Stanley Cup or even a conference crown to show for it, that would be disappointing. No question about it.

But to say these are the “same old Caps” if they lose to Tampa Bay? That’s ridiculous. They have already put those demons to rest. Three straight losses to the Lightning don’t change that and neither will whatever happens in Game 7.

Regardless of what happens on Wednesday, whether the Caps win or lose, no one should come out and say these are the same old Caps. They have already proven that’s not the case.

Those Caps are gone. Now let’s see how far these Caps can go.

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