Caps Capitalize, Isles Need to Counter

The Washington Capitals enter Tuesday morning sitting first place in the NHL. A team like that should feel no pressure at the trade deadline as it looks like the Capitals are poised for their second straight Presidents Trophy winning season (awarded to the league’s best regular-season team) or at least the top team in the Eastern Conference. While the regular-season has resulted in recent success for the Capitals, that success has not translated to the playoffs. The Capitals have failed to make it past the second round in Alex Ovechkin’s NHL career and so the Caps went all in last night. They upgraded their defense by landing Kevin Shattenkirk in a trade with the St. Louis Blues. The 28 year old Shattenkirk has 11 goals and 31 assists through 61 games this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the season. While Shattenkirk (and goaltender Pheonix Copley) join Washington, going the other way to St. Louis is a 2017 first-round pick, a conditional 2018 second-round pick, and 22 year old left winger Zach Sanford who has two goals and one assist in his rookie season with the Capitals (26 games played). As per Bob McKenzie, St. Louis will retain 39% of Shattenkirk’s salary.

With the trade deadline being tomorrow at 3:00 pm ET, trade talk has heated up and some big names are already off the board. Goaltender Ben Bishop is now a member of the Los Angeles Kings, Martin Hanzal and Ryan White have joined Minnesota, Brian Boyle is headed to Toronto, Patrick Eaves is in Anaheim, Tomas Jurco is now a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, Alexandre Burrows is an Ottawa Senator, and there are even more trades. So there is still time for the Islanders to make a move or possibly moves and here’s the reality of the situation…

The New York Rangers hold the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. While the Rangers have played one more game, they still hold a pretty big 14 point lead on the Islanders for that spot. So if the Isles want to make the playoffs, the only way in seems like the second and final wild card currently occupied by the Toronto Maple Leafs by a single point lead. If the Isles do make the playoffs, a first round 2015 rematch against the Washington Capitals seems like the likeliest outcome. Now with Washington adding Shattenkirk to their already very impressive and star-filled roster, the Isles should feel pressure to add someone to.

The writers on the site, myself included, have written plenty of articles on who we believe the Isles should go after here, here, and here for example (although some ideas are outdated with recent trades). For that reason, I won’t speculate on what the Isles need in this article but will say this. If the Isles want to make the playoffs and put up a fight and win against Washington or whoever they’d play, another piece would certainly help.

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