Updates on the Capitals and Canucks – May 22, 2017
Another look at possible offseason moves for the Washington Capitals plus speculation on Alex Edler’s future with the Vancouver Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan recently called the suggestion among some observers that the Washington Capitals should trade captain Alex Ovechkin to be unrealistic. She noted an Ovechkin trade would require the blessing of team owner Ted Leonsis, who remains committed to the club contending for a championship next season. Trading Ovechkin would rob the club of their leading goal scorer. Stripping him of the captaincy could create more locker-room tension that it might potentially solve.
There seems to be mutual interest between the Capitals management and pending free agent right wing T.J. Oshie to re-sign but limited salary-cap space could hamper those efforts. Those constraints could also spell the end of winger Justin Williams’ tenure in Washington. Playoff rental defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk isn’t expected back. Forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Brett Connolly are restricted free agents in need of new contracts.
Khurshudyan also wonders if the Capitals might buy out the remaining two seasons of veteran blueliner Brooks Orpik’s contract. With Karl Alzner eligible for unrestricted free agency, the Caps will have a top-four spot on their defense to fill. Restricted free agent Dmitry Orlov also requires a raise. She speculated the club could attempt to work out something to ensure Nate Schmidt isn’t plucked away by the Vegas Golden Knights in next month’s expansion draft.
Looking at this summer’s trade and free-agent markets, Khurshudyan finds the pickings slim for the Capitals. The top UFA forwards include Boston’s Drew Stafford, Anaheim’s Patrick Eaves, Florida’s Thomas Vanek, Dallas’ Patrick Sharp and Nashville’s PA Parenteau. She doubts they’ll get into the bidding for San Jose’s Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau. but Calgary’s Kris Versteeg could be a cost-friendly fit. She suggests Chicago’s Johnny Oduya as an affordable third-pairing defenseman.
Khurshudyan also notes the Capitals don’t have a lot of trade chips they can afford to part with this summer. Goalie Philipp Grubauer could interest clubs seeking a young goalie ready for a starting job but she suspects they’d rather lose him, instead of Schmidt, in the expansion draft.
Defenseman John Carlson has a year left on his contract but moving him for a scoring forward merely addresses one issue but leaves a big hole on the blueline. They also can’t afford to part with their top prospects as they could be affordable additions to the roster next season. Possible trade options could include Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter, Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg or Rickard Rakell or Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s not going anywhere. I don’t see Leonsis blessing such a move and I doubt they’d get a return that could improve their championship aspirations next season.
They have over $50 million invested in just 11 players for 2017-18 and new contracts for Kuznetsov, Burakovsky, Orlov and Schmidt will eat up a big chunk of their remaining cap space. So could a possible new deal for Oshie. Buying out Orpik would free up $3 million against their cap for next season and clear a spot on the blueline for a younger, faster rearguard.
There really isn’t much for them to chase in this summer’s UFA market that could improve their roster next season. Doesn’t mean they won’t look for an affordable depth option or two.
The trade market could be their best bet for a significant addition, but it could cost them a decent player and a promising prospect. I can see them possibly using Connolly as a trade chip this summer.
THE PROVINCE: Jeff Paterson wonders if Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler might consider a change after playing for Sweden in the 2017 World Championships. Edler could also see former teammates Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows enjoying deep playoff runs with Anaheim and Ottawa and be spurred to consider a trade. Edler has a no-movement clause, giving him control over possible trade destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: To date, Edler hasn’t requested a trade and management apparently hasn’t asked him to consider a move. It remains to be seen if playing for the gold medal-winning Swedes in the World Championships or seeing former teammates skating on better clubs will change his mind.
Edler’s been hampered by injuries in recent years but he remains a big-minute puck-moving defenseman who could attract interest from clubs seeking a skilled, mobile blueliner. He has two years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5 million, which could be difficult to move this summer.