After saying that the Washington Capitals would likely not be as aggressive at the trade deadline with the team not being a top contender, general manager Brian MacLellan has seen the team do a complete 360 after a couple of months of inconsistency. Now, it appears the team is looking to acquire more depth with the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline days away.
Per The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta, the Capitals are “fishing for inexpensive depth pieces at both ends of the ice to add to their roster.” And given the team’s improvement, it appears that is the answer.
Over their last seven games, the Capitals are 6-0-1 and have seen the offense step up, and a lot of that can be attributed to Anthony Mantha’s return from a long-term shoulder injury. In seven games since drawing back in, the 27-year-old has been a valuable addition to the top-6 and has three goals and five points overall. MacLellan said the team needed more identity on the middle-6, and it seems that the team has gotten it.
Not only that, Connor McMichael is picking up his all-around game, and his line with Daniel Sprong and Tom Wilson has been thriving with Lars Eller on COVID-19 protocol.
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Meanwhile, the team has also seen its power play take off. Since March 3, Washington has scored multiple power-play goals in their last seven outings and now has a PPG in 13 of their last 18 games overall. The Capitals’ 31.3 power-play percentage since Jan. 28 (18-for-58) is the second-best in the NHL.
In addition, Vitek Vanecek has been playing his best hockey and has proven that he can be a consistent starter. He has won each of his last six starts and has a .919 save percentage and 16-7-5 record through 35 appearances this season, along with three shutouts. His .928 save percentage since Jan. 1 ranks fifth overall in the league, and he also has a .937 SV% at 5-on-5, which ranks third among goalies with at least 900 minutes played.
In addition to Washington’s turnaround, the team also doesn’t have a lot of cap space to go around and doesn’t necessarily need to make a splash. The Capitals are showing they can win hockey games and have the potential to avoid an early playoff exit with its current squad. When it comes to which depth pieces, the team may want to consider a consistent backup given Ilya Samsonov’s struggles and have reportedly been keeping an eye on the goalie market.
Also, another depth forward may make sense, especially with T.J. Oshie suffering yet another injury. It’s unclear how severe it is at this time. There was speculation that Washington was keeping an eye on Max Domi. However, he would be a more expensive option and carries a cap hit of $5.3 million.
The Capitals currently sit in the second Wild Card spot and are comfortably in playoff position. However, they end the year with a tough schedule. The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is on Monday at 3 p.m. ET.