- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Washington Capitals acquired forward Carl Hagelin on Thursday from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a third-round draft pick in 2019 and a conditional sixth-rounder in 2020.

Hagelin, who has a history of beating the Capitals in the playoffs while skating for the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, now joins Washington to help with its playoff push.

Pittsburgh traded Hagelin, 30, to Los Angeles earlier this season. He had two goals and six assists in 38 appearances for those two teams. The Capitals are Hagelin’s fifth team in an eight-year NHL career.

The Capitals see Hagelin as a personnel upgrade for their penalty kill. Coach Todd Reirden, speaking to reporters in Toronto prior to the Capitals‘ game Thursday against the Maple Leafs, called Hagelin a “huge, huge gain.”

“We saw him the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen him a couple times and been watching him for a while,” Reirden said. “He’s a player that for us, in particular, adds speed, adds forward depth. And the penalty killing is something that we’ve been trying to improve all year. Those are huge things we feel we’ve added with this player.”

Hagelin is likely to make his Capitals debut Saturday at the Buffalo Sabres, Reirden said. The coach also left the door open about whether Washington might make another move before Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

A speedy Swede who was drafted in the sixth round in 2007, Hagelin has the distinction of helping eliminate the Capitals from the playoffs five times — 2012, 2013 and 2015 with the Rangers and 2016 and 2017 with Pittsburgh. He won two straight Stanley Cups with the Penguins those years.

Hagelin is a left winger, and the Capitals likely will play him on the third or fourth line to start. Andre Burakovsky and Chandler Stephenson are their other main options at left wing; both can be shuffled around among the third and fourth lines to accommodate Hagelin.

The Kings will pay 50 percent of Hagelin’s remaining salary as part of the deal, reports said. According to capfriendly.com, the Capitals are left with a mere $25,000 in cap space.

The Capitals placed Devante Smith-Pelly on waivers Wednesday to make room on the roster for the Hagelin deal. Smith-Pelly cleared waivers Thursday and will be assigned to the AHL Hershey Bears, his first time going to the minor league since 2014.

“He’s been a big part of our success last year,” Reirden said. “We needed to be in a situation where we could create a little bit of some space for us salary cap-wise, obviously, and roster-wise. But he has to get his game back to where it was last year in playoff time. He’s someone who is gonna have to find that down in Hershey now and build his game back up to what we’ve been able to watch firsthand.”

Smith-Pelly could return to the Capitals after the trade deadline, when the 23-man roster limit goes away — but he would also need to fit under the salary cap, which appears unlikely. In the NHL, the salary cap doesn’t apply during the postseason, meaning the Stanley Cup hero could return to Washington just in time for the playoffs.

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