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Capitals could trade for first-line forward

by Adam Vingan

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Three weeks from the NHL Trade Deadline, the Washington Capitals are within three points of first place in the Metropolitan Division. After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, the Capitals are in position to qualify with 28 games remaining.

Coach Barry Trotz has said that he is confident that the Capitals as currently constructed are talented enough to compete in the postseason, an assertion he reiterated Monday.

"If we were totally healthy, I could handle it," Trotz said. "I've gone into the playoffs with less."

If Washington were to make a trade before the deadline on March 2, Trotz said that he and general manager Brian MacLellan have a pretty good idea of what they need.

"Now, how to acquire it, I would tell you all of our needs, but I'm not going to, then everyone will know and hold us hostage, so I will not tell you," he said. "But we've talked internally, with [MacLellan], of some areas that we need to continue to improve and get better. You can speculate all you want, because I’m not going to tell you."

Though Trotz wouldn't divulge the Capitals' plans, one position of need is a first-line wing. Washington has rotated through eight different forwards there this season, with Marcus Johansson the latest to join Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Monday that the Capitals had discussed trading for Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane, though season-ending shoulder surgery likely diminished Washington's interest.

Defenseman Mike Green has frequently been a subject of trade rumors as he is a pending unrestricted free agent. MacLellan, however, has been pleased with Green's play and attitude in accepting a diminished role.

"If we continue on the path that we're on, I look at us as a serious contender to win our division," MacLellan told the Capitals website last month. "What message does that send to the team if you're sending Mike Green away for a prospect and a pick heading into the playoffs? I'm not going to do that. I want to win. He's a part of our team. It's a luxury to have him as a fifth defenseman."

Trotz and MacLellan have regularly conferred about what Washington can do to potentially bolster its roster and will be unified in their ultimate decision.

"As a coach's side, you're [thinking] what we need this year to win," Trotz said. "But I think I have the bigger picture, so I respect the fact that I can want this player, but it won't fit. It doesn't make any sense, three years from now or two years from now. I respect, when we throw out ideas, [MacLellan] has asked us what we've thought on players and all that.

"There's a good communication, but I respect whatever the decision we make on our team, that's the decision I will stand behind and we'll go from there. I get it. Coaches are more [focused on winning now] and general managers have to have the bigger picture as well as the immediate picture, to find that balance."

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