If the Washington Capitals weren’t already the odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup, they sure are now.
On Monday night they landed the biggest fish on the market in defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. There were some minor pieces involved but the Capitals essentially traded a 2017 1st, a 2018 2nd and a conditional pick to St. Louis for Shattenkirk’s services.
Why the Washington Capitals made the trade
– This is all about winning the Stanley Cup. Every year the Caps are at or near the top of the league standings and they’ve still never managed to make the Stanley Cup Final, let alone win a Cup.
The Caps are 1st in the NHL in wins, 1st in points, 1st in goal differential. Now is the time to push their chips into the middle of the table.
They did that by adding an all-star caliber player to an already stacked roster. Perhaps Shattenkirk is the guy who can finally put them over the top. It’s certainly worth finding out.
– Since the beginning of the 2014-15 season, Shattenkirk is 2nd among defensemen in power play points and leads the way in power play points per 60. He is as good as it gets on the man advantage and will make an already scary Caps power play that much better.
With Shattenkirk in the fold, the Caps now have three defensemen in the top-10 (Shattenkirk, 1st; Matt Niskanen, 2nd; John Carlson, 10th) in 5v4 points per 60 minutes over the last two seasons and change. Talk about an embarrassment of riches.
– If the Capitals play their defensemen on their natural sides rather than stacking pairings, they will have one of Shattenkirk, Niskanen or Carlson on the ice for the entirety of the game. All three are top-pairing caliber defensemen who can skate, move the puck, drive possession, and put up points. They’re going to be a matchup nightmare.
– I think it’s fair to say Pittsburgh is the team that poses the biggest threat to Washington’s Cup aspirations. They are hurting on defense and were also rumored to be in the running for Shattenkirk. With this trade, Washington drastically improved their team while keeping another star out of Pittsburgh’s hands.
Why the St. Louis Blues made the trade
– It’s been a bit of a down season in the Western Conference and St. Louis is a part of that. They’re still a good team, but they’re not as deep or scary as they’ve been in recent years. Realistically, their chances of winning the Stanley Cup are slim so it makes sense to sell off expiring assets and get pieces that can help them moving forward.
– Last year alone the Blues lost David Backes and Troy Brouwer to free agency for nothing. The same happening with Kevin Shattenkirk seemed inevitable so they were smart to act here.
Taking away from your roster and decreasing your chances of winning is always difficult but at some point, you have to think big picture. Continually losing good-to-great players without getting anything in return really hurts.
This was a great deal for both sides. The Capitals improved upon an already loaded team while the Blues fetched a couple high draft picks for a pure rental.
Written by Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell)