Capitals: Washington Speeds Up with Hagelin Swap

When the Washington Capitals put Devante Smith-Pelly on waivers, you knew something was up. And when Smith-Pelly cleared waivers, it happened.

The Capitals traded a pair of picks – one third-rounder for 2019 and a conditional sixth-rounder for 2020 – to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for winger Carl Hagelin. The deal instantly raises the speed profile of Washington.

“We are pleased to welcome Carl to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We felt this trade enables us to add depth up front and provides us with a veteran player with a tremendous amount of speed to help us on the penalty kill.”

The Capitals are shoring things up for another run at the Stanley Cup and this trade helps by giving them a familiar face. Washington squared off against Hagelin when he was a member of the opposition over the last several years on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 30-year-old Swede bounced around somewhat throughout his NHL career, but the last two years have been a struggle. He’s only generated eight points this season for the Penguins and Kings.

But Washington is hoping for the second coming of Michal Kempny, in a manner of speaking. Last year, MacLellan took the Chicago winger with a third-rounder and the results in five-on-five performance were immediate.

The risk to snag Hagelin is relatively low, with the Kings retaining salary to get the deal done. The hope is that the outcome will similar to that of Kempny’s, with a quick profit shift that outweighs what Smith-Pelly would’ve brought to the table.

The former playoff hero showed up to training camp below par and has struggled to find his form. He has seven goals in two dozen post-season games last run, but this year Smith-Pelly’s dipped to just eight points in 54 games and it wasn’t enough for the Capitals.

“He has to get his game back to where it was last year at playoff time. He’s someone that’s going to have to find that down in [AHL] Hershey now and build his game back up,” head coach Todd Reirden said.

And here’s a tidbit: the Penguins are still paying some of Hagelin’s salary. Pittsburgh is ponying up a quarter of a million bones from their former player’s purse. That should add a fun wrinkle when these two teams meet again in the playoffs.

(Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

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