The Washington Capitals have sent a 2018 fifth-round draft pick to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Tyler Graovac.
Graovac, 24, finished with seven goals and two assists in 52 games last season. Drafted with Minnesota’s pick in the seventh round in 2011, last season was Graovac’s first year as a full-time NHLer.
The reasoning behind the trade is solely based around the Capitals’ Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft game plan. Prior to the plan, the Capitals were required to expose two forwards that are under contract for the 2017-18 season and played in 40 or more games this past season or 70 or more games in the last two seasons. Prior to the Graovac trade, and assuming Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson and Tom Wilson would be protected, both Lars Eller and Jay Beagle would be forced to exposure due to the team requirements. But Graovac is signed through next season with a $625,000 cap hit next season and played in 40 games, and he therefore meets the requirements. This move allows the Capitals to protect Eller.
This trade makes the Capitals’ expansion plan a bit more clear. With Ovechkin, Backstrom, Johansson, Wilson and Eller protected, only two forward spots remain (assuming the Capitals go with the seven forward, three defensemen, one goaltender protection plan). Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky do not meet the exposure requirements as upcoming RFAs, and they will be the final two protected spots.
As for Graovac’s future as a Capital, it may not extend much beyond fourth line appearances. At 6-5, 212 pounds, Graovac brings a bit of a physical presence to the Capitals.
However, in his first full NHL season, Graovac struggled in the possession department. This is a bit concerning considering the Wild were one of the strongest possession teams last season.