The rumor mill has been rife with reviews within the days and weeks main as much as the official finish of the 2018-19 season, however now that the Stanley Cup has been awarded – congratulations, once more, to the St. Louis Blues – we lastly have our first one-for-one swap of the summer season. The factor is, it’s not a commerce anybody would have anticipated, neither is it a deal that features any of the gamers whose transfer has been speculated for a while.
On Friday morning, the Capitals and Flyers introduced that they’ve exchanged blueliners, with Washington sending 32-year-old rearguard Matt Niskanen to Philadelphia and receiving 29-year-old bruiser Radko Gudas in return. The one-for-one has an added wrinkle, nevertheless, because the Flyers have additionally retained a hair greater than $1 million of Gudas’ $Three.35-million cap hit, which is about to run out following this season. Along with paying a part of Gudas’ wage, Philadelphia may even assume everything of the 2 years at $5.75 million that stay on Niskanen’s contract.
It’s true that the writing was seemingly on the wall regarding Niskanen’s transfer out of Washington and that it has been for a while. Regardless of his regular- and post-season impression for the Capitals throughout the 2017-18 Stanley Cup run, throughout which he was usually the second-best and generally the very best blueliner on the ice for the Capitals, Niskanen struggled this season. His common ice time fell beneath 22 minutes for the primary time in his 5 seasons in Washington, and whereas he was nonetheless second on the depth chart, some felt the indicators of decline had been there. Offensively, he had his worst output for the reason that 2011-12 marketing campaign. Defensively, he had an abysmal 46.9 objectives for proportion at 5-on-5, down drastically from 56.eight p.c the marketing campaign prior and 59.6 p.c the season earlier than that.
However what actually appeared to seal Niskanen’s destiny, or a minimum of point out that a transfer of a minimum of one defender wasn’t too far within the offing, was the signing of Nick Jensen to a four-year, $10-million extension nearly the very immediate he was acquired from the Detroit Pink Wings forward of the commerce deadline. The signing noticed the Capitals’ spend on 5 blueliners – Niskanen, Jensen, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Michal Kempny – climb to $23.85 million. That created a monetary logjam, one which wanted to be damaged up because it left Washington with lower than $10-million in projected cap area this summer season. Friday’s commerce does precisely that and offers Washington roughly $Three.four million in further respiration room this low season whereas additionally eradicating the $5.75 million Niskanen would have been owed subsequent season from their books solely.
And should you want any indication simply how precious a commodity cap area is within the fashionable NHL, take into account that when groups make an acquisition, regardless of how huge or small, the main target typically turns to the participant. In an announcement, the buying workforce will tackle what a participant brings, how he’ll match into the lineup or why the group is completely satisfied to have him. And whereas the Capitals did precisely that – “Radko is an efficient defensive defenseman that performs a aggressive, bodily sport,” GM Brian MacLellan stated in a launch – the highlighting of Gudas’ attributes got here after a point out of the “monetary flexibility” the commerce supplies Washington as they enter the low season.
With that, although, comes the expectation that there can be corresponding strikes coming down the pike for the Capitals, that Niskanen’s commerce out of city was solely the primary in a sequence of dominoes that may fall this low season. Almost definitely, meaning Washington will start to chip away at new contracts for pending unrestricted free brokers Carl Hagelin and Brett Connolly.
Hagelin, a deadline acquisition from the Los Angeles Kings, rounded into type late within the season with Washington after a troublesome run via his first 38 video games of the season. In 20 video games with Washington, he scored three objectives and 11 factors in a bottom-six function, and the speedy winger contributed one other level – an help – within the Capitals’ first-round defeat by the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes. Hagelin was a reasonably clear-cut goal in Washington, and reviews are that the Capitals are engaged on maintaining him off the open market.
It stands to purpose that the identical goes for Connolly, too, who had a breakout marketing campaign in Washington. Coming into this season on the heels of back-to-back 15-goal campaigns, throughout which he registered 50 factors, Connolly exploded in his contract yr with a 22-goal, 47-point output and added two playoff objectives for good measure. Amongst pending UFAs, Connolly is tied for seventh in objectives and 10th in factors, and he’d seemingly be a mid-range goal for groups trying so as to add scoring. Retaining him received’t come low-cost, and you may be sure he’ll be in search of a increase from the $1.5 million he earned on his now-expired two-year, $Three-million deal.
Different issues for the Capitals past Hagelin and Connolly embrace restricted free brokers Jakub Vrana, Andre Burakovsky, Dmitrij Jaskin and Chandler Stephenson, in addition to RFA blueliner Christian Djoos. Washington may additionally start work on extensions for Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby, each of whom have the power to turn into UFAs after the 2019-20 marketing campaign.
As for the Flyers, the deal is one which comes with potential upside. Whereas it may be argued that Gudas was simpler than Niskanen final season, and whereas they’ve assumed a higher monetary burden in buying the veteran defenseman, he’s not far faraway from enjoying a few of the greatest hockey of his profession. If Niskanen can return to type after a troublesome season, Philadelphia may have added a stellar 20-minute blueliner who’s cost-controlled for the following two seasons.
Make no mistake, the Flyers have the cap area to imagine the cap hit, too. Even after including Niskanen, Philadelphia is projected to have upwards of $30-million in cap area this summer season. So, simply as a lot as it will likely be price maintaining a tally of what comes subsequent for the Capitals, be careful for the Flyers. Philadelphia has by no means been afraid to spend, and buying Niskanen would possibly simply be the tip of the low season iceberg.
(All wage cap data by way of CapFriendly)
Need extra in-depth options, evaluation and an All-Entry go to the most recent content material? Subscribe to The Hockey Information journal.
Tags: philadelphia flyers, trades, washington capitalsConnect: In regards to the AuthorJared ClintonJared Clinton is a author and net editor with The Hockey Information. He is been with the workforce since 2014. He was born, raised and resides in Winnipeg, the place he might be discovered lacking the web on out of doors rinks throughout city.