By Bill Sands
Another trade deadline has come and gone and with it came a flurry of high-profile trades. Sellers sold, buyers bought, but this time around, the Washington Capitals stood pat. After making a few trades last week for depth defensemen, the Caps refrained from pulling the trigger on a bigger deal despite rumors about the team’s interest in marquee names like Erik Karlsson and Ryan McDonagh. Karlsson is staying put in Ottawa, while McDonagh is reportedly headed to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Fans who favor a more aggressive approach can point to the Metropolitan division rivals, most of whom made upgrades and improvements. The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Derick Brassard, while the Columbus Blue Jackets picked up Ian Cole and Thomas Vanek. Even the Philadelphia Flyers got in on the action by claiming Johnny Oduya off the waiver wire.
It’s easy to argue that the Caps didn’t do enough to stay competitive, but past deadlines have shown that the team with the best roster is rarely the one that has the most success. In 2017, it was the Caps who made a big splash by trading for Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk was average at best and never really fit in with Washington, and the Caps once again lost in the second round.
The playoffs are an unpredictable beast and there’s no guarantee that getting Evander Kane or McDonagh would guarantee a Stanley Cup parade in Washington. While you need good players, you also need chemistry and camaraderie, both of which can be upset by last-minute trades.
When the postseason gets started in April, the Caps definitely won’t have the strongest roster on paper, but hey, the Caps had arguably one of the best teams of the 21st century on paper last year, and look how that turned out.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but for now it looks like the Caps did the right thing. The team as it stands now is certainly competitive enough to win the Cup, and giving up valuable draft picks for a mere rental is not how to sustain success. We won’t know for sure, however, until someone raises the Cup in June.