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Should the Capitals try to trade for Phil Kessel?

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Should the Capitals try to trade for Phil Kessel?

If the Caps hope to trade for a top-line right wing before or during the NHL draft later this month – and the key word is hope – there’s a guy named Phil Kessel being dangled just north of the border.

At 27, Kessel is in the prime of his career but is coming off his least productive season in seven years – 25 goals, 61 points, minus-34 in 82 games with the Maple Leafs.

Before that, Kessel had scored 30 or more goals five times in his career and had reached 80 points twice. But he also has seven years remaining on an eight-year, $64 million contract that carries an $8 million cap hit.

Heard enough? Thought so.

Unless a team can dump significant salary in exchange for Kessel, the field of suitors for the Wisconsin-born sniper will be a small one.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported over the weekend that the Leafs are seeking draft picks and top prospects for Kessel. The Leafs own the fourth pick overall in the draft, which will take place June 26-27 in Sunrise, Fla., and are open to moving that pick as well.

"It's something we would definitely look at," Maple Leafs interim co-general manager Kyle Dubas told the Toronto Star on Saturday. "If someone else was adamant about a player, we're pretty comfortable with the players in that cluster.

"We need to be acquiring as many draft pick assets as we can, as many prospects as we can. If there was something that made sense, we’d be open to listening and having some thorough discussions on the fourth pick."

As noted by Caps general manager Brian MacLellan, this year’s crop of UFA right wings is a thin one, with Marty St. Louis, Justin Williams, Michael Frolik, Antoine Vermette and Michael Ryder in the mix.

However, next year’s crop of UFAs could be this summer’s trade bait and among the right wings who could be dangled are Shane Doan [$5.3 million] Radim Vrbata $5 million], Loui Eriksson [$4.25 million], Jakub Voracek [$4.25 million] and Kyle Okposo [$2.8 million].

And then there’s Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp, a right-handed shot whom the Caps reportedly had interest in at this year’s trade deadline. Sharp has two years and $10.5 million remaining on a contract that carries a $5.9 million cap hit.

If the Caps aren’t convinced anyone on either of those lists can better their team without breaking the bank, we could see Andre Burakovsky or Tom Wilson starting next season on the Caps’ top line.

Thoughts?

New Phantoms coach? According to a report on Philly.com, the head coach of Connor McDavid and the OHL Erie Otters, Kris Knoblauch, has interviewed for the head coaching position of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL. Knoblauch also coached Burakovsky when he played in Erie last season. If he’s hired, he’ll be replacing Phantoms coach and former Caps head coach Terry Murray.

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Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

The odds have never gone the way of the Washington Capitals.

After years of being the common pick to finally break through and win the Stanley Cup, this was most definitely not the year.

Yet, here we are with the Capitals as one of the final two teams standing.

For their upcoming Stanley Cup Final, the Caps are the underdogs against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  The opening line from OddsShark has the Golden Knights as -135 money line favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals were listed as +115 underdogs.

Vegas (the betting entity, not the team) has not exactly been the most reliable this year though. After all, the Golden Knights were 100/1 odds to win the whole thing. Now they are four games away.

In their past two series, Washington was not the favorites. The Capitals have not been favorites since the First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For years in the Alex Ovechkin era, they have been the favorites to not only go on to play for the Stanley Cup but winning it.

In 2018 they started the season tied for the fifth best odds to win the Cup (14/1), one of their lowest opening marks in the past decade. For the full perspective, Washington was tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and behind the Dallas Stars at the start of the season.

Without question this underdog role has fit them quite well, they shouldn’t want anything to change heading into the biggest postseason series in 20 years for Washington D.C.

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How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

It wasn't supposed to happen.

The Capitals celebrated too hard after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Second Round. The Tampa Bay Lightning had been here before. Tampa Bay's roster was deeper. Their goalie was hotter. They had home ice advantage. They had easily won their first two series. Nicklas Backstrom was still injured. Washington wouldn't be able to stop the Lightning's power play.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

For all of those reasons, many did not even give the Caps a chance. Washington overcame every obstacle in their way and was, for the most part, the better team through seven games defeating Tampa Bay to win the Eastern Conference for just the second time in franchise history.

The Capitals showed in their second-round win over the Penguins that these weren't the "same old Caps." They continued to prove that in the conference final when they stunned the Lightning to win Game 1 and Game 2 both on the road.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

When Washington lost the next three, many thought that meant the real Lightning had awoken, but it was the Caps who rose to the occasion in Game 6 and Game 7 where they face elimination as they completely dominated Tampa Bay by a combined score of 7-0.

The Caps now advance to take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. The Knights have lost only three games this entire postseason and will hope to carry that momentum with them into Game 1.

If there is one thing this Washington team has proven, however, it's that you should never count them out.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

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