ARLINGTON — The Washington Capitals didn’t make any additions or subtractions at the NHL trade deadline Monday, but the moves they wanted to make had been taken care of already.
After standing pat on NHL trade deadline day, the Capitals are moving forward with their new-look roster that includes forward Carl Hagelin, formerly of the Los Angeles Kings and a few Eastern Conference foes, and defenseman Nick Jensen, who Washington acquired from Detroit.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the trades, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan touted their roles as penalty-killers and defenders with speed.
“Both of those guys address needs for us,” MacLellan said. “They’re both competitive players, both add a little speed to our lineup, both good on the penalty kill and both good five-on-five players.”
Hagelin made his Capitals debut Saturday at Buffalo, and Jensen did the same in Sunday’s win over the Rangers. After the game, Jensen compared his nascent sense of Washington’s “culture” to his old team, the Red Wings.
“I know I was there in some tough times but they have a winning culture overall,” Jensen said of Detroit. “I think coming here I don’t see much of a difference. I think this group has the same winning culture and the same expectations that everyone holds themselves accountable for everything they do, and that’s what winning teams do.”
The Capitals signed Jensen, 28, to a four-year contract extension once he was acquired.
“I like what he’s done this year. He’s taken his game to a new level,” MacLellan said. “First of all, I like his speed, I like his compete level and I really like the way he’s played lately against top players in the league. He’s defended really well and has established himself as a really good defender.”
MacLellan said his Monday was quiet with “maybe a couple phone calls” — and one player rumored to be on the trade block, Andre Burakovsky, stayed put. A lot of teams “checked in” about Burakovsky, MacLellan said, but they did not get an offer they felt was worth pouncing on.
The general manager also shed light on last week’s confusing switch from waiving Dmitrij Jaskin to waiving Devante Smith-Pelly instead. He said the front office went back and forth about the decision — and changed their minds one more time after already telling Jaskin he’d be waived.
Smith-Pelly cleared waivers and was assigned to the AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.
“I think he didn’t have the best training camp,” MacLellan said. “He didn’t start right. Maybe expectations were that he was gonna pick up where he left off in the playoffs and he struggled getting back to that level. Doesn’t mean we can’t bring him at the end, too, because we still have him in Hershey.”
Perhaps the most active NHL team before the deadline was the Columbus Blue Jackets, one of Washington’s division rivals and a team in a strange situation. Two of their top players, forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, are about to hit free agency and reportedly have little interest re-upping in Columbus.
Rather than sell, the Blue Jackets were buyers, adding four players in less than a week including goal-scoring forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from Ottawa.
MacLellan said he gives credit to Columbus, third place in the Metro, for deciding to go all-in.
“We’re gonna have to see how this works out for them,” MacLellan said. “It’s gonna be fun to watch, using all the picks and seeing how the new guys come in and chemistry is formed. Could be an interesting experiment to watch.”
Elsewhere around the league, the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Ottawa center Mark Stone, the Nashville Predators traded for longtime Philadelphia winger Wayne Simmonds and former Capital Marcus Johansson jumped from the New Jersey Devils to the Boston Bruins.
Meanwhile, the Capitals’ players had off Monday. They return to the ice to host Ottawa on Tuesday.