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Washington could seek insurance on defense

Capitals NHL Trade Deadline outlook

by Katie Brown / NHL.com Correspondent

With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline approaching at 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Feb. 29, NHL.com is taking a close look at what moves teams might be looking to make and whether they'll be buyers or sellers. Today, the Washington Capitals:

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Record: 41-10-4, 86 points; 1st in Metropolitan Division, 1st in Eastern Conference, 1st in NHL

Unrestricted free agents: Jason Chimera, LW; Mike Richards, C; Taylor Chorney, D

Restricted free agents: Marcus Johansson, LW; Tom Wilson, RW; Michael Latta, C; Dmitry Orlov, D

Projected 2016 draft picks: 6 (1 first)

Projected 2017 draft picks: 7 (1 first)

Needs: Depth defenseman

Surpluses: Forwards

Players Potentially in Play: Stanislav Galiev, RW

Likely status: Buyer

Skinny: Though the Capitals are unlikely to make any big roster moves prior to the deadline, they could look for insurance on defense to prepare for a deep Stanley Cup Playoff run after Brooks Orpik missed 40 games with a lower-body injury. General manager Brian MacLellan hasn't been shy about taking risks to add necessary pieces; he staged a small rebuild during his first two years as GM, first signing defensemen Orpik and Matt Niskanen in 2014, and then trading for forward T.J. Oshie and signing three-time Stanley Cup winner Justin Williams last summer. The result has been the Capitals have the best record in the NHL. When top defensemen Orpik and John Carlson (missed 12 games) each was sidelined in December and January, the Capitals were able to draw on their American Hockey League depth and pressed young defensemen Orlov and Nate Schmidt into larger responsibilities. There isn't an immediate need to alter the forward group. This season, the Capitals have the strongest collection of centers in recent memory with Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov on the top two lines. MacLellan further bolstered the group down the middle with the midseason signing of Mike Richards, but things may get crowded when third-line center Jay Beagle returns from wrist surgery. The Capitals could consider parlaying their crowded bottom-six into the acquisition of a rental veteran defenseman if needed.

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