The Capitals made their second big move of the weekend on Sunday, Father’s Day, as they re-signed a guy who used to be their “daddy” when he was wearing Penguins colors and even a Rangers sweater.
In 20 regular season games with the Caps, Hagelin had 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists). He had just one assist in the playoffs and was a minus-one overall in the Caps' seven-game series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Hagelin averaged 2:21 per game on the Caps penalty kill unit, which led Washington forwards in that category following the trade, and Washington killed off 88 percent of the Hurricanes’ power play chances in their playoff series loss.
Hagelin did his job. Now he gets the reward.
Ideally, the Capitals probably would have liked to go three years with Hagelin instead of four, but that would have raised the AAV to $3.66 million if the cash value had remained the same. Teams — and the Caps are no stranger to this — usually spread out a contract by one extra year to lower the cap average cap hit.
If the Capitals were to give up on Hagelin in the final year of his deal, they only have a base salary of $1.8 million and no bonus to dump off on another team, which makes it easier to deal him.
In a nutshell, the Caps saved about $3.4 million in cap space in 2019-20 and for now, all $5.75 million of Niskanen’s contract in 2020-21, which they then invested in Hagelin and still save money. In other words, the Caps traded Niskanen and a third-round pick for Gudas and Hagelin, plus still trimmed some valuable cap space.
If the Caps choose Vrana first, as they should – he’s obviously younger, faster, and has more high-end skill – it’s almost impossible to see a scenario in which the Caps can match an offer for Connolly. He would likely be gone, which would open up a third line right wing spot.
They would also be able to possibly bring in a cost-friendly veteran forward to fill out the top 12 spots, as they did with Nic Dowd last year. It’s probably wishful thinking, but a versatile forward like Micheal Ferland from Carolina or Derick Brassard, last of Colorado, might be a fit. Or how about Justin Williams making his return?
Wouldn't that be ironic after all that's happened?
Either way, it appears the Caps are smartly managing their limited resources and improving their team in the long run with these two moves.