The Washington Capitals are in very unfamiliar territory right now, as they sport a 7-10-3 record and are seventh in the Metropolitan Division. Unless they turn things around rapidly, they are in real danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Unfortunately for them, they also are trending in the wrong direction, as they have lost their last four games. If their struggles continue, they surely will be sellers at the trade deadline, and Detroit Red Wings general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman should consider doing business with them. Let’s now look at a few trade targets that could make sense for the Red Wings.
If the Capitals are out of the playoff picture at trade deadline time, their biggest trading piece will be Dmitry Orlov. The 31-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) and would receive a plethora of interest for his services. He has been one of their best defensemen for several seasons now due to his mixture of strong offense and immense physicality. This is exactly the kind of player that the Red Wings should be targeting, as he would provide a major boost to their top four.
Due to his ability to play both the left and right side, Orlov could fit quite well on either of Detroit’s top-two pairings. He could work beautifully on the top pairing with young star Moritz Seider, but he also could be an upgrade over either Olli Maatta or Filip Hronek on the second pairing. No matter where he would be inserted into the lineup, his excellent all-around play would be very welcomed. Furthermore, he would be a lock to play on the Red Wings’ power play because of his excellent passing and offensive ability. For example, just last season, he had 12 goals and 35 points in 76 games.
When noting that Orlov is a legitimate top-four defenseman, it’s clear that it would cost the Red Wings a good amount to acquire him. At a minimum, a second-round pick and notable prospect would be needed to make this deal come to fruition. One prospect who could make sense for the Capitals in this situation is fellow defenseman Shai Buium.
Would a reunion with Nick Jensen make sense for the Red Wings? Like Orlov, the 32-year-old defenseman is a pending UFA and is a prime trade candidate because of it. The Minnesota native has been a rare bright spot for Washington this season as well, as he has one goal to go along with a solid nine assists in 20 games. With numbers like these, he is on pace to have the best offensive season of his career. However, at the same time, Jensen is more noted for his reliable defensive play, and his plus-32 rating from last season effectively displays that. With all of this, he could be a decent player to consider if the Red Wings maintain their spot in the playoff race.
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Jensen would provide the Red Wings with another strong option on their right side. He also would be an immediate upgrade over players such as Jake Walman, Gustav Lindstrom, and Jordan Oesterle on the team’s bottom pairing. With that, he has the potential to be a fantastic addition to the club’s penalty-kill unit because of how well he plays in his own zone. Overall, he is the kind of steady defenseman that playoff teams love to have, so he should surely be on the Red Wings’ radar.
If Jensen continues to play this well as the season continues, it likely would cost the Red Wings a second-round pick to acquire him. He certainly would be worth the price if they are still competing for a playoff spot near the deadline, so let’s see if Yzerman makes a push to acquire the 2009 fifth-round pick.
One last Capitals rental candidate who could make sense for the Red Wings is Garnet Hathaway. Although the 30-year-old is having a slow start to the 2022-23 campaign (two goals and one assist in 20 games), his tenacious style of play could make him an excellent addition to the team. The 6-foot-3 winger never fails to stir the pot, as his 33 penalty minutes and 71 hits this season already show effectively. Adding this element to the Red Wings’ lineup may be something that Yzerman should consider.
Hathaway has also previously shown that he can provide decent secondary scoring while performing at his best. In 2020-21, for example, he scored 14 goals and recorded 26 points in 76 games. If he could start producing at a similar pace again, that mixed with his physical style of play would work beautifully in the Red Wings’ bottom six. With that, he also would work well as one of the Red Wings’ penalty-kill specialists.
Hathaway would be cheaper to acquire than Orlov and Jensen, but I believe that the Red Wings would need to part ways with a fourth-round pick and a younger player to get this deal done. Perhaps Givani Smith could go the other way in this hypothetical swap.
Alas, it’s apparent that the Red Wings do have some players worth targeting from the struggling Washington Capitals. Out of the trio, Orlov would be the biggest splash, but both Jensen and Hathaway have the potential to make an impact on the team, too. Nevertheless, we will have to wait and see if these two teams end up doing business with each other before the 2023 Trade Deadline passes.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.