Capitals Wrap: New-Look Blue Line, Carlson Update, Trade Deadline Tidbits
The Washington Capitals have a new defensive corp and are coming off two strong wins in California, an update on John Carlson and other injury check-ins, breaking down the team’s sell-off and 2023 Trade Deadline action and more in the wrap.
It was a busy week for the Washington Capitals, who not only picked up a couple of wins to open a California road trip and found a glimmer of hope in an overtime victory and blowout win along the way, but also sold big going into the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.
After shipping Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway to the Boston Bruins, general manager Brian MacLellan traded away more pending free agents, dealing Marcus Johansson to the Minnesota Wild, Erik Gustafsson to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Lars Eller to the Colorado Avalanche. In return, Rasmus Sandin came to D.C., joining Craig Smith as the only other trade addition.
Following the sell-off and a shortage of defenders, the Capitals also brought up Vincent Iorio and Gabriel Carlsson to join the mix for a new-look blue line.
Here are more headlines on what ended up being a wild seven days for the District and some thoughts on where Washington stands now.
Washington Capitals Wrap-Up
– Before being sent to Toronto, Gustafsson expressed his desire to stay with the Capitals in an exclusive last 1-on-1 before the deal. (WHN)
– Meanwhile, Johansson was caught off guard by the trade to the Wild, saying he didn't see it coming while discussing more on returning to familiar stomping grounds in Minnesota. (WHN)
– Eller also had "mixed emotions" about leaving behind D.C., where he was a Stanley Cup hero in 2018 and made an impact as the third-line center over seven years. Here's what he said after landing in Colorado. (WHN)
– Sandin, 22, opened up about his trade to the Capitals and how he hopes to become a top blueliner with the franchise. (WHN)
– His Washington debut proved convincing, as he stunned with three assists en route to an 8-3 steamrolling of the San Jose Sharks — and here's what he had to say about it. (WHN)
– Iorio also played his first game in the NHL as he suited up on the Capitals' blue line, and after living out his dream debut, he's shifting his focus to a taller task. (WHN)
– An explanation and breakdown of all the team's moves from GMBM himself. (WHN)
Top Shelf Tidbits
– MacLellan had offers from other teams inquiring about Conor Sheary and Trevor van Riemsdyk. However, GMBM said that the return wasn't as valuable as keeping the two on the roster and potentially extending them past this season, as both are well-liked by the organization. (More on all this here)
– John Carlson is continuing to make progress as he works his way back from a major head injury after taking a slapshot to the face on Dec. 23. He has been skating on his own in the mornings with coach Wendy Marco, and there is now a "set timeframe" on his return. The end of March is when the team will get "serious" about seeing him return.
– The standings have no impact on whether or not No. 74 will play, as he'll draw back in regardless of if the playoffs are on the line. It's ultimately up to him and when he's feeling good enough to take the ice for a game.
– Nick Jensen and Martin Fehervary's injuries aren't as serious as once thought. Neither is on the injured reserve at this time. The team did recall Aliaksei Protas and Dylan McIlrath, but both are on hand as extras with the team having carried just 12 healthy forwards and six healthy defenseman prior to the call-ups.
– Alex Ovechkin was given a heads-up by management on the team's plans to sell at the deadline. Owner Ted Leonsis had promised there would be no rebuild while the captain is chasing his goal record. The organization does not see this scenario right now as a rebuild, but as an opportunity and more as a restock. There is more flexibility to make moves and improvements in the summer. (More on this here as well)
– Ethen Frank earned an NHL contract, inking a one-year, two-way deal to join Washington next season. The Capitals will see where he is with his game come training camp but like his speed and his ability. The 25-year-old is also a young forward who loves to shoot the puck and can make plays happen on the fly, so there is a lot of promise there.
– Nicolas Aube-Kubel is also sticking around for another year at $1.225 million, as the team likes what he brings to the table on the fourth line and, like Frank, cite his speed as a major plus.