From the 2007-08 season until the beginning of this 2013-14 campaign, the Washington Capitals enjoyed the luxury of advancing to the Stanley Cup playoffs by beating up on the embarrassingly weak Southeast Division, as the team captured five of six divisional crowns over that span.
But now, with the Caps playing a much more talented group of teams in the Metropolitan Division, Adam Oates' club clearly won't have as easy of a time clinching a postseason berth.
Which is why George McPhee may be entering the most critical trade deadline since being installed as Washington's general manager in 1997.
Alex Ovechkin and company face an uphill battle to claw their way into the playoff picture over the next two months, and as McPhee's demonstrated in the past, he's not one to be afraid of making a splash at the last minute in order to provide his squad with quality reinforcements.
Heading into the final week of the trading window, here's a look at Washington's biggest priorities that McPhee should be looking to address.