The Washington Capitals continue to load up on depth at the trade deadline, while the Detroit Red Wings set the stage for what might amount to even more dramatic selling over the next few days.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the Capitals and Red Wings made the following trade, which has since been confirmed.
Capitals receive: Defenseman Nick Jensen, Buffalo’s 2019 fifth-rounder.
Red Wings receive: Defenseman Madison Bowey, 2020 second-rounder.
Jensen, 28, is set to become a UFA, with a cap hit of $812,500. Bowey, 23, carries a $1M cap hit, and his contract runs through 2020-21.
Update: The Capitals didn’t waste much time in making sure they’ll keep Jensen around. The team announced a four-year, $10M contract extension ($2.5M cap hit through 2022-23.)
This comes shortly after the Capitals acquired Carl Hagelin from the Los Angeles Kings. While Hagelin brings speed, possession prowess, and playoff experience to Washington, Jensen is a sturdy, right-handed defenseman.
The comparisons between Washington landing Jensen and the Michal Kempny trade are running rampant right now. The Capitals haven’t been shy about acquiring defensemen during the trade deadline over the years, but many will argue that they enjoyed better returns from a lesser-known quantity like Kempny, rather than the splashier Kevin Shattenkirk trade the year before. Jensen even basically received the same contract as Kempny.
The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan also noted that Capitals GM Brian MacLellan expressed disappointment with the pairing of Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov earlier in February:
“A little disappointed,” MacLellan said. “I think they were our main pair last year, played great for us in the playoffs, and I don’t think they’ve played at the standard that they’re used to playing at. … I think they both seem to be just a little bit off, and we’re trying everything we can to help them both find their game.”
Jensen gives the Capitals some more versatility, as he tracks reasonably well as a “defensive defenseman.” He does so in the modern sense, because Jensen tends to grade well at moving the puck.
Khurshudyan wonders if Christian Djoos might be the odd-man out with the addition of Jensen.
Bowey had really struggled to find his game with Washington after being the 53rd pick of the 2013 NHL Draft. At the moment, the second-round pick looks to be far and away the lure for the Red Wings, but there’s always the chance that Bowey might be able to turn things around.
As it stands, the Capitals definitely get a short-term upgrade. Via metrics like Bill Comeau’s SKATR comparison tool, Jensen seems to edge Bowey in a lot of ways.
Many believe that the Capitals paid a significant price for Jensen, but ultimately, that comes down to how you feel about both of the defensemen involved … and also how much you weigh a second-rounder.
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.