This month, the Cannon staff is throwing out fantasy trade proposals. We started with Eric Seeds writing about a possible acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuk. Mike encouraged us to have fun with this, so I decided to think WAY outside the box. Like, an FFMorgan trade proposal on crack.
I SUGGEST THAT THE COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS TRADE FOR ALEX OVECHKIN
Wait, don’t close the page yet. Hear me out:
The Caps need a change, and Ovi may not fit their future plans
For back-to-back seasons, the Washington Capitals have won the President’s Trophy, but have fallen in the second round to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the 12 seasons of the Ovi Era, the Caps have never reached the Eastern Conference Final. With only 6 forwards and 4 defensemen under contract for next season, GM Brian MacLellan has some difficult decisions to make this season.
What are we getting if we acquire him?
Ovechkin is still one of the elite players in the league, but 2016-17 was a down year for him. He scored “only” 33 goals after scoring 50 or more in each of the previous 3 seasons. His TOI declined to 18:22 per game, down almost 3 minutes from his career average. His shooting percentage was down 2 percent. He did still lead the league in power play goals, however, as he remains lethal from his position in the left faceoff circle.
He has been team captain since 2010. As the team has continued to underachieve, has that taken a toll on him? If he were removed of the captain’s responsibilities, could he focus on getting his game back on track? For a team that struggled to score in 2017, the Blue Jackets could use even the 33 goal version of Ovechkin.
What will he cost?
Well, he ain’t cheap.
There are financial costs in addition to the emotional costs for Washington to part with their captain and franchise player. Ovechkin is signed for an annual cap hit of $9.5M over the next four seasons. My suggestion is that Columbus trades enough salary to afford his salary and earn more room to sign the pending RFAs (especially Alexander Wennberg and Josh Anderson; more on that later).
Columbus gets: Alex Ovechkin
Washington gets: Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson, and David Clarkson
Washington is likely losing defensemen Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk. Johnson showed he is still a solid defenseman. He would be a nice fit on Washington’s second or third pairing.
I would hate to lose Cam, but that’s a likely possibility next summer anyway. Can Columbus afford his next contract? Ovechkin could more than replace Cam’s scoring ability.
Washington currently has $22M in cap space, according to CapFriendly, compared to just $2M for Columbus. Washington could more easily absorb the Clarkson contract, or benefit from the LTIR relief. If Columbus is taking on a long term contract, Washington should take one as well (with both Johnson and Atkinson being UFAs next summer).
What does Columbus look like after this?
Using CapFriendly’s Armchair GM tool, I was able to calculate the effects of this trade. In addition to the trade, I signed Anderson for a 2 year, $2.9M AAV deal, which is identical to Boone Jenner’s contract. I signed Wennberg to a 3 year, $3.5M AAV deal, which is similar to what Ryan Johansen signed in 2014. Those signings put me over the cap, so I got relief by buying out Matt Calvert.
This does not account for the expansion draft. If William Karlsson is selected, then Pierre-Luc Dubois can take his position.
Will this happen? Of course not. Would you like it if it did? If Ovechkin were available, what would you trade for him instead?