Just after their Thursday morning skate concluded, the Caps announced that they have acquired veteran left wing Carl Hagelin from the Los Angeles Kings, who will pick up half of the freight remaining on the winger's base salary for this season, which is $3,666,000. The 30-year-old Hagelin's salary cap hit is $4 million and he will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. (All salary figures from capfriendly.com.)
In exchange, the Caps give up a third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Additionally, the Kings will get a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft if the Caps win the first two rounds of the playoffs this spring and if Hagelin appears in 50 percent or more of all Caps playoff games in those first two rounds.
Hagelin is a two-time Stanley Cup champion whose 121 career games played in the playoffs is second only to Brooks Orpik (144) among Washington players. Caps captain Alex Ovechkin has also played in 121 Stanley Cup playoff games.
Video: Todd Reirden Pregame | February 21
"He is a player we are really excited about having join our team," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "Carl has had a lot of success in the league, a number of playoff experience - the games he has played. [He is] a huge, huge gain for us in terms of speed, experience, and obviously the championship experience as well.
"Additionally to that, we see him being a big part of our penalty killing and continuing to try to make that better."
Caps winger Devante Smith-Pelly, placed on waivers on Wednesday afternoon to clear up the needed salary cap space for the Hagelin move, cleared waivers and was assigned to AHL Hershey on Thursday.
Hagelin was originally a sixth-round pick (168th overall) of the New York Rangers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. After concluding his collegiate playing career at U. of Michigan, Hagelin turned pro in 2011-12. He needed only 17 games worth of AHL seasoning before he was recalled to the Rangers, and he made his NHL debut in Washington against the Caps on Nov. 25, 2011 in the penultimate game of Bruce Boudreau's coaching career with the Caps. Hagelin recorded an assist in that game, and notched his first NHL goal a night later at Madison Square Garden, beating Sergei Bobrovsky, then with Philadelphia. Hagelin started his NHL career with a point in four straight games.
He was a consistent middle-of-the lineup winger for four seasons with New York before he was traded to Anaheim in June of 2015. He signed a four-year contract with Anaheim, but Hagelin's stay with the Ducks was a short one; the Pittsburgh Penguins obtained him for David Perron on Jan. 16, 2016. Hagelin was an integral part of Stanley Cup championship squads in Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017. On November 14 of this season, Hagelin was dealt to Los Angeles for Tanner Pearson. At the time of the trade, he had a goal and three points in 16 games with the Pens. He added a goal and five points in 22 games with the Kings for a total of two goals and eight points in 38 games this season.
"The last couple of weeks, we've seen him a couple of times," says Reirden of Hagelin. "I've been watching him for a while. He is 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. So those are huge things we feel we have added with this player.
"But we also feel that the style of play that we have is different than the style he has been playing in Los Angeles, systematically, so we feel that this will allow him to use his speed a little bit more and be a factor that way, which we think is really important in the Eastern Conference, and a player that has had a ton of success in this conference as well."
Prior to 2018-19, Hagelin averaged 15 goals and 37 points per 82 games of his NHL career. He has skated anywhere from 14:38 per night (in 2018-19) to 17:18 per night (in 2012-13) over the course of his career, playing mainly on the second and third lines.
In Washington, he will be expected to contribute to the penalty killing unit, and will likely be able to draw into the lineup on the team's fourth line. He will join the Capitals for their Friday practice in Buffalo, and could suit up for the first time in a Washington sweater as soon as Saturday afternoon against the Sabres. Hagelin has worn sweater No. 62 throughout most of his NHL career (he briefly sported No. 26 in Pittsburgh) and will continue that pattern in Washington, following Sean Collins as the second Caps player ever to sport that number.
Asked about a possible fit for Hagelin in terms of potential linemates, Reirden was non-committal.
"I often caution on that that one," says Reirden, "because you look at [Michal] Kempny last year when we brought him in as a player that I had spent a lot of time watching and knew the impact that he could have. But I think it is important to put the player in a situation to have success initially and kind of ease him into things.
"We started Kempny on the third pairing and we moved him up. When we got him, we were always hoping that he would be a top four guy, but I think it is in the player's best interests initially to ease him into how we want to play and help with the transition. Obviously he is an experienced veteran player, but we will have to see how things work themselves out here, not even just today but if anything else happens before the deadline as well."
The Caps know Hagelin well from postseason handshake lines. Hagelin has been a member of each of the last five teams to eliminate the Caps from the playoffs (Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017 and the Rangers in 2012, 2013 and 2015). He totaled five goals and 14 points in 35 playoff contests against Washington over the years.
On Feb. 19 of last year, the Caps were in Buffalo on the last stop of a season-long five-game trip when they announced they had acquired defenseman Michal Kempny from Chicago, the team they played two nights earlier on the trip. The Caps faced Hagelin and the Kings on Monday in Los Angeles in the previous game on this trip. Two of Hagelin's last four games as a member of the Kings came against the Capitals.
Hallowed Hall - The Caps flew into Toronto from Los Angeles on Tuesday, and they conducted a Wednesday morning practice session here. Immediately afterwards, the Caps were treated to a team lunch and an amazing tour through the Hockey Hall of Fame's formidable archives.
For an hour or so, Caps players and staff wandered through aisles of old sticks of the Koho, Victoriaville, Sher-Wood, Northland, Christian Brothers ilk, ancient goalie masks and other equipment, millions of slides, countless photographs, game programs, publications and random and unique artifacts relating to our great game.
The good folks at the Hall set up a display featuring artifacts related to the Caps, including John Carlson's USHL All-Star sweater, Jakub Vrana's Hershey Bears sweater, some old minor league yearbooks featuring coach Todd Reirden and other fun items.
After that enjoyable tour, Reirden and five Caps players - Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Orpik, Braden Holtby and Tom Wilson - bused to the Hall of Fame's downtown location for a press conference where the Capitals donated one of their Stanley Cup rings to the Hall's display of championship rings form over the years.
"It was amazing, an amazing experience," says Reirden, "It was truly an honor to be there and be a part of what the Hall of Fame stands for. I just love the fact that they have included that special ring area and it was great to be a part of the group that went over. We were able to deliver that replica of the ring, and especially with it being Alex's ring as well. That was real special for our leaders that were there that have gone through so much."
Home, Home Again - Toronto is just back from its own six-game, 12-day road trip, a journey that ended on Tuesday night in St. Louis with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Blues. The Leafs lost center Nazem Kadri to a concussion in that game; Kadri had a hat trick against Washington in the most recent meeting between the two teams on Jan. 23 here in Toronto.
Toronto has actually had a better record on the road (19-8-3) than at home (17-11-1) this season, but the Leafs will carry a four-game home winning streak into Thursday night's game.
Video: Two-Man Advantage | February 21
In The Nets - Braden Holtby gets the net for Washington on Thursday in Toronto. Holtby has posted a 3-3-1 mark since the All-Star break with a 2.73 GAA and a .917 save pct. In two of his losses over that span, the Caps didn't score any goals in support of him.
Holtby is 0-2-0 against the Maple Leafs this season, but he is 8-5-1 lifetime with a shutout, a 2.41 GAA and a .922 save pct.
For the Leafs, Frederik Andersen will be in goal on Thursday. He is 5-1-2 in eight appearances this month with a 2.62 GAA and a .925 save pct. Lifetime against the Capitals during the regular season, Andersen is 5-1-1 with a couple of shutouts, a 2.76 GAA and a .916 save pct.
All Lined Up - Here's how we expect the Caps and the Maple Leafs to look when they meet for the third and final time this season on Thursday night in Toronto:
8-Ovechkin, 92-Kuznetsov, 43-Wilson
13-Vrana, 19-Backstrom, 77-Oshie
65-Burakovsky, 20-Eller, 10-Connolly
18-Stephenson, 26-Dowd, 72-Boyd
11-Hyman, 91-Tavares, 16-Marner
12-Marleau, 34-Matthews, 24-Kapanen
18-Johnsson, 29-Nylander, 28-Brown
26-Lindholm, 33-Gauthier, 63-Ennis