“There weren’t many … centers available, and he was one that a lot of people wanted to have,” Capitals general manager George McPhee said. “He’s been the captain of an NHL team, he’s won a Cup _ and those kinds of intangibles, I think, were something we wanted in the room.”
Stuck in second place in the Southeast Division after three consecutive titles, the Capitals also got defenseman Dennis Wideman in a deal with the Florida Panthers on the league’s trade deadline day. Wideman will help Washington until defenseman Mike Green can return from a head injury. McPhee said Green will be sidelined “at least a couple of weeks, maybe longer.”
New Jersey has made a frantic playoff push in the past two months, posting a 17-2-2 record to move to within nine points of a playoff berth with 20 games to play in the regular season.
Still, the Devils are only 13th in the Eastern Conference and will have to leapfrog five teams to keep alive their streak of making the postseason every year since 1997.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said he would not have made the deal without getting something in return, noting Steckel is one of the top faceoff men in the NHL. The draft choice also gives him a chance to land a prospect down the road.
“We felt that in order for us to trade Jason Arnott, we had to bring a player into our lineup that would not miss a beat with the type of team we had,” Lamoriello said. “It had to be a perfect fit because we don’t want to lose anything in what has been happening.”
Arnott gives Washington a big, strong center, who has been a clutch playoff performer with 66 points in 106 postseason games. He scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Devils in the second overtime of Game 6 in their series with Dallas in 2000.
“I’m at the end of my career,” Arnott said in an interview with the Star-Ledger of Newark. “I want a chance at another Stanley Cup. I think Washington has a good potential to be a Stanley Cup championship team.”
Steckel had five goals and six assists in 57 games. The 28-year-old has two seasons left on his contract.
“He can be used in all situations,” Lamoriello said, “especially when the game is on the line.”