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Will the Shattenkirk trade force the Caps into another deadline deal?

Will the Shattenkirk trade force the Caps into another deadline deal?

With the NHL trade deadline on Wednesday, the question surrounding the Capitals was whether the team would make a move or stand pat. On Monday we got our answer as the team acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and prospect goalie Pheonix Copley from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forwards Zach Sanford, Brad Malone and a first and a conditional draft pick(s).

But by addressing the only real weaknesses on the roster, the Caps may have exposed another flaw they could potentially try to address before Wednesday's trade deadline.

With only two right-shooting defensemen in Matt Niskanen and John Carlson, this was a clear area of need for the team. Because of the struggles of the team's two netminders in the AHL, Washington was also in need of a third goalie in case of an injury to Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer. You can read more on the team's needs heading into the trade deadline here.

RELATED: Capitals land defenseman Kevn Shattenkirk

The team addressed both of those needs Monday with Shattenkirk and Copley, but it came at a price. Losing draft picks will have future implications, but the loss of Sanford weakens the team in the present.

Heading into the postseason, if healthy, it's not hard to guess what the Caps' forward lines would be:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

But what if there was an injury? Prior to the hand injury suffered by Andre Burakovsky, the Caps were using the minimum number of forwards and cycling through players from Hershey for road games. That's not an ideal setup for the playoffs.

The plan was thought to be for the team to carry Sanford and Jakub Vrana as the two depth forwards for the postseason. Pinning your hopes on two rookies to step into a playoff situation when called upon is not without risk. Now, however, the Caps don't even have that.

There's a difference between plugging a player in the lineup in the regular season and in the playoffs. The regular season offers an opportunity to give players like Riley Barber and Chandler Stephenson valuable experience. The team can feel comfortable plugging in Zach Sill or Liam O'Brien for a few games. But when it comes to the playoffs in which every game counts, every win brings you one step closer to the Stanley Cup and every loss brings the season closer to an end, the team needs more options than a handful of green prospects and veteran AHLers.

Vrana is projected to be a top-six talent and is starting to hit his NHL potential. He also, however, is prone to turnovers and needs to work on how he plays without the puck. He is a good option for Washington in the playoffs, but for him to be the only option is an enormous risk.

The Shattenkirk deal shows the Caps are all-in this year, but there's one more move they may need to make. With Sanford now gone, the Caps will need to act fast to bring in more forward depth because, besides Vrana, there's not a whole lot of options within the organization.

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz admits Ovechkin was "off" during Saturday's game

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All of the round robin scenarios tied to Capitals vs. Flyers

All of the round robin scenarios tied to Capitals vs. Flyers

If you're a Capitals fan, you may be tired of hearing about how these round robin games "matter." With the other teams playing actual playoff series, it's hard to view the round robin games the same way. While there may not be as much on the line Thursday for the Caps and the Philadelphia Flyers (4 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) as there is in the qualification series, that doesn't mean Thursday's game doesn't matter. With only three round robin games, there is a lot riding on this game.

Here are the standings heading in:

Tampa Bay 4 points (2 games played)
Philadelphia 2 points (1 game played)
Washington 1 point (1 game played)
Boston 0 points (2 games played)

With that in mind, here are all the possible scenarios for the Caps in Thursday's game.

If the Caps win in regulation...

Washington will finish ahead of Boston, but can still finish in first, second or third overall. The Caps will finish in first if they beat Boston on Sunday AND Tampa Bay loses in regulation to Philadelphia on Saturday.

If the Caps win in overtime or a shootout...

The scenario is exactly the same as above. Washington will finish ahead of Boston, but can still finish in first, second or third overall. The Caps will finish in first if they beat Boston on Sunday AND Tampa Bay loses in regulation to Philadelphia on Saturday.

It doesn't matter if the win is in regulation, overtime or a shootout. Just win baby.

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If the Caps lose in overtime or a shootout...

Washington could finish in second, third or fourth place, but will be out of the running for first. The Caps will earn second place if they beat Boston in the round robin finale AND Philadelphia loses in regulation to Tampa Bay on Saturday.

If the Caps lose in regulation...

The highest Washington could finish is in third place. The winner of Sunday's Boston-Washington game will determine who is in third and who is fourth.

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T.J. Oshie shows you don't always have to have a letter on your chest to be a leader

T.J. Oshie shows you don't always have to have a letter on your chest to be a leader

When T.J. Oshie took to the ice on Monday for the round robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he did so with an "A" on his chest. With John Carlson out, his A went to Oshie. It was not a major talking point before the game and was mentioned only briefly afterward by head coach Todd Reirden. Oshie taking the A wasn't a major storyline not because no one cared, it was because no one needed Oshie to wear a letter to know he was a leader.

In the second period against the Tampa Bay, Oshie dropped the gloves with Tampa Bay forward Yanni Gourde in the second period while the Caps were down 2-0 and struggling to find any intensity in their game. Less than five minutes later, the game was tied at 2. It was the clear turning point of the game and helped the Caps earn a point in a game that looked like it was getting away from them.

"He has an A on his jersey without Carlson and clearly a leadership move right there and the results speak for themselves," head coach Todd Reirden said. "He does a tremendous job with our leadership group and that was another signal of the type of person he is, the character he has.”

The energy Oshie brings to a team is evident. You can watch his interviews, see his interactions with his family or even check out the butt tap. That type of energy is contagious and goes a long way towards loosening a team up and giving them confidence in key moments.

"He is a great teammate and everything he does inside the locker room on a daily basis that everyone doesn’t get to see," Nicklas Backstrom said, "He is always positive, comes in with a lot of energy."

He added, "[Oshie] brings everything to the table."

But it's not just about what he does off the ice that makes him a leader.

Oshie has fought before, but no one would label him a "fighter." It's not something he does not do often -- his last fight came back in May of 2018 against Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang -- but he did it when the team needed it on Monday and that's what makes Oshie a leader.

If the team needs a goal, Oshie scores. If the team is in a shootout, Oshie always goes. If the team needs a fight, he drops the gloves.

That fight against Letang? It came in the final minute of Game 4 in the second-round series against the Penguins. After that game, Washington would not lose to Pittsburgh again.

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When it comes to talking about the Caps as a contender, we can talk about the skill they have, the size, the speed, etc., but there's something else to consider: The leaders. The fact that the Caps can turn to someone like Oshie to wear the A when needed is a sign of the amount of leadership on the roster. And that's not even including guys like Braden Holtby, Lars Eller or Tom Wilson, a player many believe will be the next C after Ovechkin.

In terms of leaders, Washington is full of them.

And that's evident when a player like Oshie steps onto the ice wearing an A and no one notices. That's because he's always been a leader and it doesn't take wearing a letter for his teammates to recognize it.

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