Capitals make two acquisitions at trade deadline

Mia Halper

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Washington Capitals player Evgeny Kuznetsov stands by the net. Kuznetsov has been a centerpiece this year for the Capitals, and for a large time in his career played on a line with new acquisition Marcus Johasson.

The NHL trade deadline is one of the most important times in the NHL season, and also undoubtedly the most stressful. This deadline has seemed more quiet than most, with one of the primary players on the trade block being injured a few days prior. Despite this, it was still quite eventful. This year, the trade deadline fell on March 21 at 3 p.m.

The major trades leading up to the deadline include the trade that brought Claude Giroux, the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, to the Florida Panthers. Many of the big names of the deadline were actually dealt before March 21st, including Ben Chiarot to the Panthers, Brandon Hagel to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Mark Giordano to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The arguably most major deal on the actual deadline day came in the trading of Marc-Andre Fleury, last year’s Vezina winner, to the Minnesota Wild. One of the major trade targets for the Washington Capitals, forward Artturi Lehkonen, was taken by the Colorado Avalanche.

The highlight of the trade deadline for the Capitals was the acquisition of Marcus Johansson, a name very familiar to the Capitals, from the Seattle Kraken. Johansson played his first seven seasons in the NHL with the Capitals before being traded following the 2016-2017 season. In return, the Capitals sent the Kraken Daniel Sprong, a fourth round pick and a sixth round pick. Johansson has good upside potential for the Capitals, especially as half of his salary is being retained by the Kraken. He can slot in at any forward position, and although he isn’t especially high-scoring, he could be the missing piece in Capital’s second power-play unit.

There is, of course, the question of whether the Capitals overpaid in this trade. Sprong, although his defensive numbers aren’t very strong and he’s been struggling in production as of late, is a very strong forward offensively. His point total this season, though, is worse than Johansson’s. The draft picks included in the trade are low, and therefore not much of a loss, and were likely added to the deal in order to have the Kraken agree to retain half of Johansson’s salary. Sprong and Johansson are both only signed through the end of the 2021-2022 season, and have similar salaries, so there is no large strain on the Capitals money-wise. The outcome of this trade all rides on how the two players perform on their respective new teams.

Freshman Jaden Luskin plays ice hockey for WJ, and is a longtime Capitals fan.

“I think Johansson being back will be good for the Capitals to reestablish some of the old team chemistry that used to work for them before trading him initially,” Luskin said.

The second trade the Capitals made was for Johan Larsson from the Arizona Coyotes, for a third round pick. Larsson has played on struggling teams for his entire career, as he was on the Buffalo Sabres prior to playing for Arizona. Despite this, he has put up good numbers throughout his career, and has 15 points in 29 games played this season. He is currently coming off of an injury, though. His strengths are found in his defensive abilities, as well as his ability to play both center and right wing. This flexibility in positions seems to be a theme in the pickups at this trade deadline- likely due to the various injuries the Capitals have been dealing with throughout the season. Larsson is, overall, a good pickup and should slot in well wherever the Capitals choose to play him.