The money needed to come from somewhere, and the Capitals decided to crater their top six to get it.
Late Sunday night, the Washington Capitals announced they had traded 26 year-old Swedish winger Marcus Johansson to the New Jersey Devils for a second and third round draft pick.
The move clears $4.6 million in salary cap space per year, and came just minutes after the Capitals announced they had re-signed Evgeny Kuznetsov to an eight-year, $62.4 million contract.
Johansson scored 24 goals and 54 points in 2016-2017, and was third on the team in goals, fourth in assists, and fourth in points. The move leaves a massive, charming IKEA meatball-shaped hole in the Capitals’ top six, and it will be up to Brian MacLellan, the free agency gods, and the good cocoa folks in Hershey to fill it.
With Andre Burakovsky and Philipp Grubauer looming as the only two significant free agents left to re-sign (and let’s be cot darn frank, Burakovsky is the most important), the Capitals now have much more flexibility to fill out their roster.
But at what cost? Well, that remains to be seen.