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Rumor: Caps overloaded blue line may lead to a trade.

Moving out defense to gain more offense?

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There hasn't been much movement in the National Hockey League in recent days and there's little doubt that the flat cap is playing a major role in that. Several teams lack the flexibility they would have normally had during this offseason were it not for the pandemic, and as a result they have had to focus on making relatively more minor improvements. 

One such team has been the Washington Capitals who you could argue made their biggest move of the offseason when they brought in head coach Peter Laviolette to take over for the inexperienced Todd Reirden. The Capitals made no real major moves, they let long time netminder Braden Holtby walk as a free agent and added veteran Henrik Lundqvist on a relatively cheap contract, and many have wondered if there might not be more in store from Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan in the offseason.

There has been some talk suggesting that the Capitals could take a look at free agent forward Anthony Duclair but the team would have to shed salary cap space in order to make that work, and according to Tarik El-Bashir that isn't very likely. The Capitals insider expects that the Capitals roster will largely remain as-is as we head into the regular season, however he did add that he could see one scenario in which the Caps make a move. 

Given a glut of bodies on defense El-Bashir has suggested that the most likely player to be moved via a trade would be veteran defenseman Nick Jensen, a former draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings organization. The expected return would be a bottom six forward or a player in the form of a prospect, but given Jensen's cap hit of $2.5 million per season for 3 more seasons I highly suspect that a player for player type of transaction would be more likely here. $2.5 million isn't a huge contract by any means, but for a defenseman that is currently looking like he will slot into your third pairing in this pandemic era of the NHL it is a lot to take on for the majority of the teams around the league so there would almost certainly have to be salary coming back the other way.

That being said even if Jensen were to be dealt the Capitals would still have John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Justin Schultz, Brenden Dillon, Jonas Siegenthaler and Trevor van Riemsdyk on the blue line and they also no doubt expect Michal Kempny will return from his injury at some point during the season. Given that you can see why they may very well consider moving Jensen for more help in their bottom six.