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Concern about depth, championship mindset prompted the trade for Shattenkirk

Concern about depth, championship mindset prompted the trade for Shattenkirk

NEW YORK—Although Matt Niskanen is expected to return Tuesday night against the Rangers, his absence the past two games made one thing abundantly clear to Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan: he needed bolster the blue line in the event a key defenseman gets hurt in the playoffs.

So, on Monday night, MacLellan made a bold move, acquiring former All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from the Blues.

“We’ve always talked about defensive depth,” MacLellan said on a conference call with reporters. “If a top-4 guy goes down, what are we going to do? I think that played a big part in the decision. The timing of Nisky’s injury where he missed two games maybe created the urgency to pursue it more aggressively.”

MacLellan added: “This gives us insurance if something like that happens where one of our top guys misses a few games.”   

The Blues’ asking price, according to MacLellan, was “in line” with the cost for similar top tier rentals in recent years. As part of the deal, the Caps sent a first round draft pick, prospect Zach Sanford and a conditional pick to St. Louis.

“Every year, to me, it’s a first plus a prospect for the top [unrestricted free agent] guys, and it goes from there,” MacLellan said. “I think the market is fairly similar to what it’s been in the past. So this is in line with what’s happened previously.”

MacLellan said he expects the coaching staff to use the final 21 games of the regular season to figure out where Shattenkirk best fits into the lineup, at even strength and on the power play. 

RELATED: Shattenkirk trade may lead to another deal for the Capitals

Shattenkirk is expected to meet the team in New York and make his Capitals' debut at Madison Square Garden.  

MacLellan also said he consulted T.J. Oshie and Brooks Orpik prior to making the deal. Oshie played with Shattenkirk in St. Louis; Orpik played with him on Team USA.

“I’ve done as much homework as I can on the person,” MacLellan said. “I’ve talked to T.J. Oshie. I’ve talked to Brooks Orpik [about] what kind of guy he is, how would he fit in, what’s his personality like, do the guys like him. I did as much as I could on that side of it to reassure us that he’s a good fit personality wise.”

MacLellan acknowledged that bringing on a big minute blueliner such as Shattenkirk could diminish other players' roles. But he hopes those players will be able to see the bigger picture.

“When you bring in a player of this stature, there’s an excitement, an energy that goes throughout the room,” MacLellan said. “Everybody gets pumped up for the last part of the season. They get excited. You can never tell what it does to the chemistry.”

“As far as the on-ice stuff, there’s a degree of uncertainty,” he added. “It changes roles a little bit. People get less ice time. People get less power play time. I guess the hope is players and coaches and everybody manages it, and that the overall philosophy is everyone is doing what’s best for this team to be successful.”

And what constitutes successful at this point?

“Winning a championship,” MacLellan said.  

MORE CAPS: Two forwards called up from Hershey prior to game vs. Rangers

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Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

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Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

Alexander Ovechkin's offseason continues to be one for the books. 

Just a week removed from celebrating with the Stanley Cup in Moscow, Ovechkin was named Best Male Athlete Wednesday night at the 2018 ESPYs. 

The 32-year-old is the first NHL player to win the award since it was first introduced in 1993. 

"The Great Eight" beat out Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. 

Ovechkin was not in Los Angeles to accept the award.

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Braden Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup wasn’t even nominated for an ESPY

Braden Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup wasn’t even nominated for an ESPY

On Wednesday night ESPN hosts their yearly sports award show, the ESPYs, to celebrate the best of the last 365 days in sport. 

One thing they will not be celebrating, or did not even consider celebrating, was Braden Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final

This year there were 16 plays nominated to be the “Best Play” and were seeded into a bracket. For the past month fans have been voting in each head-to-head matchup culminating in four pretty outstanding plays:

All of those plays can be viewed here

Three of those four were in a championship game, the other was a just a once in a lifetime play from a teenager. 

But the ESPYs are saying that there are 16 plays from this past year that were better than Holtby’s save… Can we really believe that? Everyone loves buzzer beaters, but they accounted for six of the 16 plays. One of them could have easily gotten bumped. 

And aside from the three listed above there were only two that were in the championship event for each sport. Holtby could have rounded it out for six.

We’re not saying that Holtby’s play was the best in the past year, or even in the top four. Heck, there should be no one that tops Ogunbowale’s incredible heroics. But arguably the best play in D.C. sports history not making the top-16 for best plays in a 365 day period? 

It must have been one heck of a sports year.  

For those that are nominated, Alex Ovechkin is a finalist for Best Male Athlete and Best NHL Player. The Capitals are in the running for Best Team.

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