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Revisiting the Capitals' roster needs following the trade deadline

Revisiting the Capitals' roster needs following the trade deadline

Before the trade deadline, we looked at possible needs and targets for the Caps. Now that the deadline has come and gone, let's review and see how they addressed those needs.

Goalie

Possible need: Third goalie

How did the Caps address it: Trading for Pheonix Copley as part of the Kevin Shattenkirk trade

Copley was a former prospect of the Capitals who was traded to St. Louis as part of the T.J. Oshie trade. He is someone the organization knows well and is comfortable with. With a 2.23 GAA and .924 save percentage in the AHL, he represents a clear upgrade over Joe Cannata given Cannata's play this season. Copley also made his NHL debut this season, though it didn’t go well as he allowed five goals on 29 shots.

Did Hershey get stronger in net? Yes. Are the Caps likely to need Copley to play? No, but if you were looking for the Caps to have a Jeff Zatkoff type goalie as their No. 3 like the Penguins had last year, they appear to have fallen well below that mark. They likely could have done better considering there was zero market for goalies. Ryan Miller and Jaroslav Halak stayed put while teams that clearly needed another goalie like Edmonton and Calgary stood pat. Even Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman said the reason he traded Ben Bishop to Los Angeles was because it was his only option. With no buyers, that makes me think the Caps could have gotten a more established No. 3 for cheap.

RELATED: Trotz shows Caps video of Shattenkirk's fight with Williams

Defense

Possible need: Right-shooting defenseman

How did the Caps address it: Trading for Kevin Shattenkirk

If you’re trying to win the Stanley Cup and have a chance to add a top-four defenseman without losing a core player on the roster, that’s hard to turn down. Losing a first-round draft pick hurts, but the fact that the 2017 draft appears to be rather weak helps soften the blow. Shattenkirk was the best player on the market and the Caps not only got him, they also kept him out of Pittsburgh’s hands. Granted, deadline acquisitions tend to fail more often than they work and Shattenkirk still has work to do in terms of adjusting to the Caps’ system, but general manager Brian MacLellan did about as good a job as you can do adding a very talented piece without giving up anything to weaken the current roster.

Offense

Possible need: Scoring depth

How did the Caps address it: N/A

The original plan was for the Caps to carry Zach Sanford and Jakub Vrana as extras for the postseason. If you thought that was a gamble, you’re probably not pleased that Washington traded away Sanford and did not make any moves to add forward depth. Is this really a major issue? It shouldn’t be. I’m skeptical as to what Sanford would have added. He looked timid at the start of the regular season and it affected his confidence resulting in a trip to the AHL. He has played much better of late, but it’s not hard to imagine the timidity returning in what would have been his first NHL postseason. Vrana has looked fantastic in his return from Hershey, but the bad news is that now he’s pretty much it in terms of forward depth. If the Caps suffer even two injuries in the playoffs, they will have to turn to players like Chandler Stephenson, Zach Sill, Paul Carey and Riley Barber to fill those holes.

MORE CAPITALS: Prediction recap: Caps outlast Flyers

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Karl Alzner on the mend, status for second round remains unclear

Karl Alzner on the mend, status for second round remains unclear

Karl Alzner on Tuesday handled his heaviest practice workload since getting hurt, but it remains unclear when the Caps’ defenseman will return to the lineup.

Alzner has been sidelined with an upper body injury since Game 2 against Toronto.

“He’s progressing [and is] day-to-day,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “When the trainers say, 'Go', then he’ll go.”

Alzner took part in contact drills, including penalty kill, signaling the next step in his recovery.

Asked if he anticipates Alzner stepping back into the lineup when he’s healthy, Trotz said: “Possibly. We’re not there yet so I’m gonna be vague to you.”

RELATED: Trotz reveals why Ovechkin missed the second half of practice

Alzner said he felt good after the hour-long practice. Asked if he expects to play right away, he said: “I think so, yeah. I didn’t really think about that...I hope so.”

Alzner, who has appeared in 540 consecutive regular season games, acknowledged that it’s been frustrating to be sidelined given what’s at stake.

“Yeah, not fun,” he said. “It’s very, very frustrating, especially at this point of the year. You can handle it a little more in the regular season, but to watch the guys go to battle and to have the feeling of beating a team, it’s unfortunate to miss that. At the same time, I know that in the long run, it’s the best thing for the team [and] clearly was the right choice.”

Alzner has been replaced in the lineup by Nate Schmidt, who has played well the past four games. In addition to being reliable in his own end, he’s registered a pair of assists. He’s also a team-best +5.  

If and when Alzner is healthy, it’s going to force Trotz and Co. to make a difficult decision. Do you take out Schmidt? Someone else? Or go with seven defensemen?

“He’s done that,” Trotz said about Schmidt putting the coaches in a tough spot. “He’s come in and he’s done a really good job. He’s such a good skater. We played a quick team and he fit in just perfectly with us. I thought he was making a statement, ‘Hey I'm gonna make it tough to take me out of the lineup.”

Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast and subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play!

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Barry Trotz reveals why Alex Ovechkin missed the second half of practice

Barry Trotz reveals why Alex Ovechkin missed the second half of practice

Alex Ovechkin missed the second half of Tuesday’s practice — the Capitals’ first session in preparation for the Penguins — because of an equipment issue.

Prior to exiting the ice, the Caps’ captain came to the bench at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and examined his skate.

“His skate broke,” Coach Barry Trotz said before cracking, “I said, ‘You didn’t have another pair? He goes, ‘I couldn’t find them.’”

RELATED: CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS PREVIEW: FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

In all seriousness, though, it’s not clear why Ovechkin did not get his skate repaired, as is usual when a blade or holder cracks. 

“I don’t know what happened,” Trotz said. “It was a skate. He came over and there was something hanging off his skate there. I think when he went in the corner, [it] got sliced. He’s fine, as you see. You saw him walking around. He’s fine.”

Added Ovechkin, who appeared to be practicing at full speed during the first 20 or so minutes of practice and looked while walking around afterward: “Yeah, my skate is broke, almost in half. It’s okay.”

Ovechkin scored three goals in the first round as the Caps vanquished the Maple Leafs, 4 games to 2. The right wing ranks ninth on the team average ice time on the team at 19:43.

In addition to Ovechkin’s situation, Lars Eller did not practice. Trotz said the third line center, who has two assists so far in the postseason, took a “maintenance day.” 

Trotz said he expects Eller to practice on Wednesday.

RELATED: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF POWER RANKINGS

Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast and subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play!