Capitals make huge deadline splash with Kevin Shattenkirk trade

The rich have gotten richer.

The first-place Washington Capitals struck a deal with the St. Louis Blues and acquired one of the league’s most sought-after trade deadline targets in Kevin Shattenkirk on Monday night. To acquire the defenseman, the Caps sent a package including 22-year-old forward Zach Sanford, 27-year-old forward Brad Malone and draft picks to St. Louis.

(Those conditional picks are extremely complicated, so you can refer to this thread from Elliotte Friedman as an explainer.)

Shattenkirk, 28,  is in the final year of his contract with a $4.25 million cap hit (though the Blues are retaining a portion of his salary in the deal) and will likely be a rental for the Capitals as they go all-in for another crack at a deep playoff run.

The defenseman joins a Washington blue line that already allows the lowest goals-per-game average of any team in the league. Shattenkirk is sometimes a liability in his own end but he’s a strong offensive threat, especially on the power play. The Caps’ power play is already fifth-best is the league, so the addition could be a nightmare for Washington’s opponents.

As an added bonus, Washington’s divisional rival and fiercest competition, the Pittsburgh Penguins, were rumored to be in on Shattenkirk as well.

It’s clear that the Capitals are fed up with their culture of early postseason exits and are doing everything they can to load up for a Stanley Cup run this spring. Some may look at the move as an unnecessary one for an already great team — as we know, major deadline splashes aren’t always guaranteed to work out — but it’s hard to blame general Brian MacLellan for putting his foot on the gas.

It’s impossible to say right now whether it’s finally the Caps’ year, but they may not find themselves in a better position than this for quite some time.