Just two points out of a playoff spot, but 13th in the Eastern Conference by points percentage and in the midst of a now six-game losing streak, the Washington Capitals have taken a surprising turn to seller ahead of the 2023 NHL trade deadline. A run of eight consecutive seasons of playoff hockey may now be in peril.
On Thursday, the Capitals sent defenceman Dmitry Orlov and energy forward Garnet Hathaway to the top team in the NHL, the Boston Bruins, who add depth, experience, grit and an important minute-muncher to their back end. Boston, already the NHL’s No. 2-ranked team in expected-goals against per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey, acquire Washington’s leader in even-strength minutes per game.
Orlov, a pending UFA the Capitals were having trouble re-signing, will solidify a dangerous top-four collection of Bruins blueliners. This follows Boston’s addition of Hampus Lindholm at last year’s deadline, which turned into a great fit and led to a long-term extension.
And while Orlov is the headliner, Hathaway is surely about to become a fan favourite in Beantown. A 6-foot-3, 208-pound bottom-six grinder, Hathaway led the Capitals in hits and brings some scoring punch, too — he scored 14 goals last season and has nine in 59 games in 2022-23.
In return, the Capitals gain some draft capital, adding an all-important first-round pick in 2023, a third-rounder next season and a second-rounder in 2025. Craig Smith is also heading to Washington, his $3.1 million expiring contract helping make the cap math work in the deal.
Also getting involved were the Minnesota Wild, who did another tidy piece of business taking on 25 per cent of Orlov’s remaining cap hit and gaining a 2023 fifth-round pick. They have now used two of their three salary retention slots.
It’s becoming abundantly clear what associated costs will look like as we inch closer to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 3.
The best team in hockey, the Bruins, have added to the depth of their roster – and still have over $1.3 million to spend.
Here’s a look at the trade between the Capitals and Bruins:
What the Bruins received: Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway
Orlov is a gritty veteran defenceman who is easily defined as a two-way D. He’s used in all situations, contributes secondary offence, can match up against second line opponents on the road, and is more than willing to engage physically.
As we can see, Orlov brings value in many categories. Winning games at the hardest time of year in the playoffs takes a combination of skill and will (some nights more will than skill). Orlov also contributed 88 hits and 62 blocks for the Capitals before this deal.
Hathaway is easily defined as an intense, in-your-face competitor who plays with better than average pace and finishes every check he sees. He’s hard to play against and can be a distraction that opponents need to be aware of. He’s very similar to recent Toronto acquisition Noel Acciari, in terms of his ability to provide some secondary offence and kill penalties.
The Bruins are already a hard team to play against in the trenches. They have plenty of bump and pushback on their roster and play a very detailed team game. Adding Hathaway’s 198 hits to their lineup and his 65 shot blocks only strengthens their depth.
Hathaway immediately becomes the hits leader on the Bruins. Connor Clifton led Boston with 156 hits before this trade.
• The draft picks the Bruins gave up fits the trend we are seeing in the league in the run up to the deadline (2023 first, 2024 third, 2025 second).
• Craig Smith was an extra forward for the Bruins.
• Washington retained 50 per cent of Orlov’s cap hit ($2.55 million).
• Minnesota absorbs 25 per cent of Orlov’s cap hit ($1.275 million), essentially purchasing a 2023 fifth-round pick for their assistance. Already retaining salary on Ryan O’Reilly and now Orlov, the Wild can broker a trade in this way one more time.
• The Bruins inherit $1.275 million of Orlov’s cap hit.
• Washington does well, adding picks to their draft grid.
• The top team in the NHL added depth without subtracting from its roster and has money left over to make another trade before the deadline.
• The Bruins are a better team (as silly as that reads!) after this trade.