It is no secret the Capitals have made significant improvement this offseason. From the forwards to the goalie, the roster has been remodeled to make itself better prepared for what will hopefully be a long playoff run.
This raises the question: Are the Capitals done?
While it is impossible to know what, if anything, they will do, it is easy to see where the team could still improve. Here are three trade scenarios that would make the Capitals a better team in preparation for the upcoming season.
Washington has added a lot of toughness to their roster this offseason, and they are looking a lot more physical and hard-nosed than they did at this point last season. Joel Ward has made a living in the NHL on driving to the net, while Troy Brouwer comes in as one of the leading hitters in the league.
Why not acquire No. 1?
Cal Clutterbuck led the league in hitting in 2010-11, with 339 checks. He would fit well onto any of the Caps' top three lines and would be a physical force. He is a big part of the Wild, and would take a lot to acquire. Minnesota is in a rebuild and could use some defensive depth in their prospect pool. Patrick McNeill could be ready for NHL duty. Perreault has fallen down the depth chart in Washington, and the Wild would love to bring him on board. Throw in a second rounder and you should be able to pull it off.
Minnesota Wild Acquire:
2012 2nd Round Pick
Washington Capitals Acquire:
One of the Caps D-corps' biggest problem these past few seasons has been a lack of significant strength and physical intimidation on the blue line. John Erskine can bring some of that to the bottom pairing, but the Caps could really use some toughness in the top four to complement the three youngsters.
Douglas Murray is the perfect option.
The Swede was one of the top hitters in the league last season, finishing 20th among all skaters. He has also shown a willingness to drop the gloves and is a surprisingly good skater for a player his size (6'3", 240). He could finally give Mike Green a long-term partner.
San Jose Sharks Acquire:
Washington Capitals Acquire:
2012 3rd Round pick
Caps fans will say Matt Hendricks fills this role, and it's true. He does. Wouldn't it be great, though, to get another—especially if he comes in cheap?
Chris Neil scored 10 goals to go along with 12 assists last season, while ratcheting up 175 penalty minutes. The Ottawa Senators are in a mass clearout stage and, at 32, Neil doesn't figure in their long-term plans. The Caps should be able to pick him up for Francois Bouchard, a good prospect who has been ready for the NHL for a little while now, and the Caps could even trade up a little in the draft.
He would fit in great in DC.
Ottawa Senators Acquire:
2012 3rd Round Pick
2012 2nd Round pick
Alex Ovechkin—Nicklas Bäckström—Mike Knuble
Cal Clutterbuck—Marcus Johansson—Alexander Semin
Troy Brouwer—Brooks Laich—Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks—Jeff Halpern/Mattias Sjögren—Chris Neil/Mattias Sjögren
Karl Alzner—John Carlson
Douglas Murray—Mike Green
Roman Hamrlik—Dennis Wideman
John Erskine—Tom Poti
Follow Jacob Ware on Twitter at @jacobware95