Should Bruins Target These Capitals Players Ahead of 2023 NHL Trade Deadline?

Should Bruins target these Capitals players ahead of NHL trade deadline? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Washington Capitals are an interesting team to watch as the March 3 NHL trade deadline approaches.

They were in one of the wild card playoff spots in the Eastern Conference for much of the season, but a five-game losing streak has knocked them down in the standings. Washington now sits two points out of a wild card berth. There are four teams ahead of the Capitals in the wild card race, including the two teams -- the Islanders and Panthers -- occupying those playoff spots as of Thursday morning.

Moneypuck's model gives the Capitals just a 11.1 percent chance of reaching the postseason. They are ravaged by injuries and not playing well. If the Capitals continue to fall, could they become sellers at the trade deadline?

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Here's what Chris Johnston reported during TSN's "Insider Trading" segment earlier this week.

"Well, this is a potentially significant development because (Dmitry) Orlov’s name has started to emerge in trade chatter," Johnston said. "And I think there’s a couple reasons for this. The one that you key on there, the fact they’re sputtering a bit in Washington. Teams are calling general manager Brian MacLellan to see what he’s going to do with his unrestricted free agents. There’s also the fact that the Capitals have been negotiating with Orlov. And I was told by a well-placed source on Tuesday that those talks are nowhere right now, there’s no progress towards a deal.

"And so I don’t think the Capitals have given up on signing Orlov, I don’t think they’ve committed to being full on sellers, but if they get either a strong offer right now, or he’s unsigned at the end of next week, I think they have a very interesting decision on Orlov."

If the Capitals become sellers, the Bruins should give them a call about some of their veterans.

One interesting target would be Orlov.

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He doesn't have imposing size at 5-foot-11, but he plays a physical style of hockey and can take on difficult defensive assignments. In fact, he's tougher and provides more offense (at least 27 points in six of the previous seven seasons) than rumored Bruins trade target Vladislav Gavrikov. Orlov also has 74 games of playoff experience and was a key member of the Stanley Cup-winning Capitals team in 2018. Similar to Gavrikov, Orlov will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so the 31-year-old would probably be a rental. 

The Bruins could use another bottom-six forward, and one intriguing option on the Capitals roster is Garnet Hathaway. The 31-year-old veteran is a pain in the ass to play against, which is a compliment. He's the kind of pesky bottom-six forward who gets under opponents' skin and can also give you some scoring depth. Hathaway has tallied 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 52 games, and his low $ 1.5 million salary cap hit as an upcoming UFA is pretty attractive, too. He can play left or right wing, although his best position is right wing and that's an area the Bruins would be wise to bolster before the trade deadline, especially if they trade right wing Craig Smith to clear cap space. 

Hathaway scored against the Bruins in a 2-1 Capitals win at TD Garden on Feb. 11. 

Another defenseman worth considering for the Bruins is Nick Jensen. He's also a UFA-to-be and has tied a career high with 21 points (one goal, 20 assists) in 58 games. Jensen is playing a career-high 20:52 per game as well. He would be a strong third-pairing or depth defenseman addition for the Bruins.

All eight Capitals defensemen and five of their forwards are free agents this summer, so we could be seeing some meaningful changes in Washington over the next week or in the summer. They have a lot of decisions to make in the coming months.

The Capitals have made the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons. Even if they sneak in this year, this isn't a real Cup contending roster. The smart move for the Capitals would be to trade the veterans who probably won't re-sign with the team. If that scenario unfolds, the Bruins should give them a call. 

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