With Nicklas Backstrom undergoing potential career-ending left hip resurfacing surgery, the Washington Capitals are in pursuit of a top-6 center, and they are reportedly keeping an eye on a couple of big names.
Via CHEK TV and The Athletic’s Rick Dhaliwal, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said on the Donnie & Dhali Show that the Capitals have been linked to Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller and Colorado Avalanche pivot Nazem Kadri as they search for a suitable replacement for No. 19.
Miller has been one of the big names on the block for the Canucks over the last few weeks. The 29-year-old is coming off an outstanding season that saw him dish 32 goals and 67 assists for 99 points in 80 games. Despite a couple of down years in Tampa Bay with the Lightning, Miller has been one of the leading scorers for Vancouver over his three years there. He had 72 points in 69 games with the Canucks in 2019-20 and then put up 15 goals and 31 assists in 53 games in the shortened 2020-21 campaign.
The 6-1, 218-pound winger has great hands and vision and can score goals and make outstanding plays. He can also serve as a catalyst on the power play and kill penalties as well. His two-way ability and knack for scoring make him a candidate that would perfectly fit in with Washington.
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Miller has one year remaining on his contract and carries a cap hit of $5.25 million. The Capitals are likely to have more space to work with this offseason given a handful of pending UFAs and the potential to place Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson on the long-term injured reserve.
Another name to watch is pending UFA Kadri. He is coming off an outstanding 2021-22 that saw him dish a career-high 25 goals and 59 assists through 62 games with the high-flying Colorado Avalanche. He has been clutch for Colorado and also helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup Final.
Kadri is a good two-way player with quick hands, offensive awareness and willingness to engage in puck battles. He can also bring toughness to the lineup, which Washington needs with Wilson on the shelf until at least December.
Given his career year, Kadri is likely due a big pay raise this offseason, even potentially upward of $7 million. And even though his numbers have fluctuated over the course of his career, he has shown that he can be a top-6 player and contribute, and he would likely fit in well with the Capitals’ systems.