- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Daniel Winnik has been traded three times at the deadline, so turning around and joining a new team is no longer difficult for him.

“I’ve got the packing down, that’s for sure,” Winnik joked.

Winnik arrived at Verizon Center shortly before the Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2, on Tuesday night. He is expected to be on the ice for the Capitals, his new team, when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs, his old team, on Wednesday night.

He won’t have a chance to practice — and likely won’t for some time, given the Capitals’ schedule — and said he’ll rely heavily upon studying film and asking teammates and coaches questions to figure out the system.

“I think playing is the best way to do it,” Winnik said. “I’ll probably mess up a couple of times, but hopefully, those mess-ups aren’t too big.”

Winnik figures to join the Capitals’ fourth line, playing alongside center Mike Richards and Jay Beagle on one of the wings, and will also see time as part of the Capitals’ penalty kill unit.

Acquired on Sunday night for left wing Brooks Laich and defenseman Connor Carrick, Winnik had the rest of this year, plus all of next season, remaining on a contract he signed with the Maple Leafs during the summer.

Being traded three times at the deadline, he believes, speaks to his work ethic.

“Even if you’re on a long-term contract or whatever, you’re still auditioning for other teams,” Winnik said. “I think that’s the way you’ve got to treat it when you’re out of the playoffs. Teams always want guys who are battling and competing for a losing team, and if they see you’ve kind of given up, no one’s going to want you even if it’s your second year of a five-year deal. Everybody has their own motivations when they’re playing not for playoff spots. You always want to win, and you want to play your best hockey regardless.”

Winnik had a chance to talk to center Michael Latta, a healthy scratch for Tuesday’s game, and defenseman John Carlson, who’s out with an unspecified lower-body injury, prior to the opening faceoff. He figured introductions and everything else would take place after the game ended.

Considering Washington has the best record in the NHL and Toronto is scuffling along at the bottom of the standings, Winnik said on Monday he was “pretty shocked” to find out where he would be playing.

“It’s nice,” he said on Tuesday. “I mean, to get back kind of in a playoff picture, I think, is the best part of it.”

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