For weeks, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan has been looking for a top-line right wing without overpaying. On Wednesday the Pittsburgh Penguins went out and did it, trading picks and prospects to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the high-scoring right wing Phil Kessel.
But did the Penguins overpay for Kessel, who could challenge Alex Ovechkin for next season’s goal-scoring title while teaming up with Sidney Crosby or Evgeny Malkin?
The Penguins gave up forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Spaling, defenseman Scott Harrington and picks in the first and third rounds. In addition to Kessel, the Penguins get defenseman Tim Erixon and forward Tyler Biggs, along with a second-round pick.
But the Penguins also get $1.25 million in cap relief on Kessel, who has eight years and $64 million remaining on his contract. With the Leafs taking on 15 percent of Kessel’s contract, his cap hit in Pittsburgh will be $6.75 million – more than the Caps were prepared to spend.
The jury is still out on what the Caps’ roster will look like, but as of right now, the Penguins are a lot better today than they were yesterday.
Meanwhile, two hours into free agency, Caps UFAs Mike Green, Joel Ward and Eric Fehr were still unsigned, leaving open the possibility of one of the Caps circling back on either Ward or Fehr.
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