The DeMatha Stagline

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The DeMatha Stagline

The DeMatha Stagline

Washington Capitals 2024 Deadline Recap

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WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 24: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of the game at Capital One Arena on March 24, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Six seasons removed from winning the 2017-18 Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals just finished their second consecutive trade deadline as sellers, and are at serious risk of missing two consecutive postseasons for the first time since Alex Ovechkin’s first two seasons.

Following their win on March 24, Washington is fourth in the Metropolitan division, four points ahead of the New York Islanders, who are fifth in the division. Although they’re in playoff position, GM Brian MacLellan and the front office know that the team is not in championship contention, and came into the deadline looking towards the future.

The team was in a similar position last trade deadline, making a flurry of selling moves, headlined by dealing Dimitry Orlov, one of the Caps’ top defenseman during and after their 2018 victory, to the Boston Bruins. MacLellan voiced that he wanted to repeat last year’s deadline approach, saying that a repeat of his moves in 2023 would “be ideal.” This season they traded another cup winner away, dealing forward Evgeny Kusnetsov to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Capitals had the approach of getting younger, piling up draft picks but not gutting their current roster. MacLellan has been in a tougher spot than most over the past two deadlines, with a team not bad enough to tear down without major controversy but also not good enough to be a threat during the playoffs. The aim has been to look towards the future while still giving the current roster a chance.

A major debate between Capitals fans has been how much Alexander Ovechkin should be an influence in MacLellan’s approach. Many fans want to see the team always try to compete until Ovechkin, a future hall-of-famer, retires after the 2025-26 season finishes, the final season of his contract. Ovechkin is currently sitting at 848 career goals, only 46 shy of Wayne Gretzky, the all-time leader, who finished his career with 894.

Some fans think the team and the team’s future should come first, but others think that a potential rebuild should be pushed back to give a franchise legend a chance to be competitive in his final seasons. DeMatha sophomore Oliver Gorman sees it in the same way, simply saying the team should “wait until he retires” to tear it down. It seems that MacLellan sees it in a similar way.

While there is already enough controversy around the phase that the Capitals should be in as a franchise, owner Ted Leonsis, who also owns the Washington Wizards and Mystics, has heavily discussed moving the team from Capital One Arena in Chinatown. The billionaire owner has expressed that progress had been made in the process to move the teams to Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Virginia, which has been detrimental to his reputation as owner, especially since his Wizards continue to struggle during a historically bad season. The Capitals currently sit at 26th in the NHL in total payroll, with the total number consistently decreasing also impacting Leonsis’s reputation.

However, recent news suggests that the Potomac Yard move has taken steps back, with Leonsis recently reaching out to Wes Moore, the governor of Maryland, about a possible move north. Leonsis has made it clear that he wants the new arena to be publicly funded, although many suggest that Leonsis has the money to do it all by himself. Regardless of the funding, many believe that Leonsis is in a good position at Capital One Arena and in Washington. Sophomore Oliver Gorman agrees, stating, “I hate [the idea of the team moving]. The Capitals should play in the capital of the nation.”

Regardless of all of this controversy, the Capitals have an experienced roster that is pushing to maintain their spot in the standings, a spot which would land them in the playoffs. The team enjoyed a stretch of six wins in seven games, seemingly not missing Kuznetsov, before a 5-1 loss on March 28 sparked a six-game losing streak. With two regular season games remaining, Washington is in a three-way tie for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and is still hoping for a shot at their first playoff series win since the Stanley Cup finals in 2018.

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