The Washington Capitals acquired Carl Hagelin from the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, hoping a former fixture of the Pittsburgh Penguins can help them repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Here’s the full deal:
Capitals receive: Carl Hagelin
Kings receive: 2019 third-round pick, conditional sixth-round pick in 2020.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the Kings will retain 50 percent of Hagelin’s salary/cap hit, which would be the second time a team retained a portion of the winger’s salary, as the Penguins retained a small chunk of his cap hit earlier this season in the Tanner Pearson trade.
Washington likely looks at Hagelin as a replacement for Devante Smith-Pelly, who cleared waivers on Thursday.
Kings add fuel to rebuild
While the Kings take on a portion of Hagelin’s contract for the remainder of 2018-19, he’s set to be a UFA, so this is a short-term cost for Los Angeles.
When you look back at the two Hagelin deals Los Angeles was involved with, they essentially turned Pearson into cap space and picks. Pearson carries a $3.75M cap hit through 2020-21, which isn’t particularly useful for a rebuilding team.
The Kings’ biggest building block for the future came in getting the Maple Leafs’ first-rounder (and two prospects) for Jake Muzzin, but this Hagelin swap buffs up the quantity for Los Angeles. Along with having their original seven picks in 2019, the Kings now have Toronto’s first-rounder, Washington’s third, and the Flames’ fourth (so 10 overall).
Washington very much needed the Kings to retain salary in this move, as Hagelin’s reduced cap hit ($1.875M) leaves the Capitals with about $116,682 in projected cap space for the trade deadline.
During some of his best recent days, Hagelin was the “H” on the Penguins’ “HBK” line, provided speedy support to compliment Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel. Hagelin also faced the Capitals as a good fit for the New York Rangers, so Washington has plenty of firsthand experience with Hagelin.
It sure seems like those playoff battles took their toll on the 30-year-old, however. After being limited to three points in 16 games with the Penguins, Hagelin didn’t have much more luck with the Kings, managing only five points in 22 games.
Naturally, production isn’t everything, and that point makes Hagelin more interesting.
Along with bringing valuable speed and battle-tested experience to the table, Hagelin checks a lot of the possession boxes, even as his scoring has dipped in 2018-19.
Considering the snug cap situation the Capitals are in, this addition makes a lot of sense. It also furthers the Kings’ goals of building toward the future by tearing down the present. Rate this as a modest win-win for both sides, with Hagelin’s playoff work determining how it will really matter for the Caps.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.