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Penguins Rival Ready to Sell before NHL Trade Deadline?



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Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas has granted himself continuances to decide if his team has what it takes to make the playoffs and be competitive. The Penguins’ long time rivals, the Washington Capitals share a similiar life cycle and are facing the same momentous decisions to chase the playoffs or begin selling parts before the NHL trade deadline.

The Capitals may have successfully saved their season with a win Saturday, or at least prolonged it. However, Dubas’s counterpart in Washington, Brian McClellan is ready to make a decision regarding his direction at the NHL trade deadline.

The Capitals beat a drained Boston Bruins 3-0. The win ended the Capitals’ six-game losing streak, but they remain at the bottom of the pile in the Eastern Conference playoff race, just behind the Penguins.  The lions of the Eastern Conference who won the Stanley Cups from 2016 through 2018, but have struggled to win playoff series since, are the oldest teams in the league.

However, the Capitals have been quietly keeping prospects and adding to their minor system for a couple of years. Last season, the Capials surgically sold defenseman Dmitri Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway for a package including a first-round pick. The Capitals also pawned Marcus Johnasson for a pick.

McClellan spoke with ESPN reporter Emily Kaplan before the Capitals beat Boston.

‘These next three games — today, tomorrow against Vancouver, and then against Colorado (Tuesday), will determine what direction we go to in the trade deadline,” said McClellan.

Website RMNB was the first to pull the quotes from the broadcast.

The Capitals have three days between their game against Colorado and visiting the Monreal Canadiens on Saturday.

“It’s going to be difficult decisions that we need to make,” said McClellan. “However, whatever we do in the second half — if we do trade away players — you can expect a lot of players from Hershey to come up.”

The Capitals have an edge over the Penguins in regards to bringing up players from their AHL affiliate. The Penguins’ prospects with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are limited to Sam Poulin and goalie Joel Blomqvist. Others, such as Marc Johnstone and Jack St. Ivany, are not projected to be impact players (but surprises do happen).

Though the Capitals don’t project to have replacements for veterans they may trade away, either. Such prospects as Hendrix Lapierre and Ivan Miroshnichenko project as supporting cast members.

Like the Penguins, the Capitals are nine points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for third place in the Metro and seven points out of the wild card. The Capitals have only one game in hand on Detroit for the wild card, and three games in hand on Philadelphia.

Like the Penguins do not control their fate. Thei goal differential is currently minus-33.

Unlike the Penguins, the Capitals did not splurge on a Norris Trophy winning defenseman (Erik Karlsson) last summer and the Capitals core is falling away. Nick Backstrom stepped away from the game early in the season, Evgeni Kuznetsov struggled all season and entered the NHL Player Assistance program. T.J. Oshie is quickly reaching the end.

It will be far easier for the Capitals to wave the white flag than it would for the Penguins, though the decision and fallout could be the same. The Capitals are on the clock and we could see one rival check out this week.

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10 days ago

The big question is will FSG allow Dubas to make the changes being discussed in DC?

10 days ago
Reply to  Jstripsky

FSG probably has informed Dubas you have till you are systematically eliminated before you need to do what’s best for the core & future next year. If making systematic trades for certain NHL & AHL ready to promote controlled players that can help this team. Also if the numbers don’t match with Guentzel camp bidding war for the best turn around on the fly transition of players/prospects. Draft picks are great but not when #1’s = 2nd rnd caliber picks.

Last edited 10 days ago by Centralpa