Expect the Capitals, who trail the Lightning by five points in the Southeast Division, to be players before the NHL's trade deadline on Feb. 28. As it's currently constituted, this team doesn't appear to be capable of going on a deep playoff run (though nothing should be discounted as long as Alex Ovechkin is in the scarlet and white).
Looking at their shopping list, the Capitals need a second-line center to play with Alexander Semin -- assuming he doesn't get shipped elsewhere before the deadline -- and they must fortify the back end with a defensive defenseman or two. And though plenty of fans are enamored with Semyon Varlamov and Michael Neuvirth, I believe the Capitals need to bring in a veteran goalie who can carry the load alone.
Here are five players the Capitals should target before the trade deadline if they want to win the Stanley Cup:
Brad Boyes, C, St. Louis: The Capitals have been looking for a skilled second-line center for a while now, someone who can team up with Semin to help take pressure off the team's top unit. Mike Fisher (aka Mr. Carrie Underwood) would have been a good fit, but he got dealt to the Predators last week. So the Capitals will have to settle for someone such as Boyes, who has 11 goals and 26 assists this season.
Ales Hemsky, RW, Edmonton: If Washington can't land a center, they might turn to a top-six winger such as Hemsky. The 27-year-old is a pretty decent playmaker who could thrive in the Capitals' wide-open offense.
Rostislav Klesla, D, Columbus: The first ever pick by the Blue Jackets, Klesla never developed into an elite defenseman as Columbus had hoped. But Klesla is a reliable player who hits, blocks shots and does the dirty work -- and that's exactly the type of player Washington needs on its blue line.
Chris Phillips, D, Ottawa: The Capitals missed the boat last year when they failed to acquire Anton Volchenkov, who is now with the Devils. But this year, they could make a play for Phillips, who teamed with Volchenkov in seasons past to form the Senators' shutdown defensive pairing.
Tomas Vokoun, G, Florida: This one could be tricky since the Capitals might have trouble making a trade within the division, but Vokoun has been one of the league's most consistent goalies over the past decade. He is having another strong season in Florida with a 2.52 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times