Report: Blackhawks’ Fleury, Kraken’s Jarnkrok, Jets’ Copp, Canadiens’ Lehkonen among capitals’ final trade targets

Photo: Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

Fourth-period David Bagnotta came in with the top 35 candidates to be tackled before the NHL trade deadline, which is four weeks from Monday. The Washington Capitals have been linked with one goalkeeper and three strikers.

As it’s been known for weeks, the team is still interested in the Chicago Blackhawks’ goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury, who is 16-18-4 with a .912, 2.80 goal-to-average ratio, and four-time stoppage time this season after winning the Vezina Cup with the latest Vegas Golden Knights campaign. The 37-year-old is 508-294-84 with a 0.913 save, 2.56 goals-to-average, and 71 runs in 921 regular season games with the Black Hawks, Golden Knights, and Pittsburgh Penguins.

In the 162 Stanley Cup career playoffs, the 2003 first overall pick was a 90-70 with 0.912 saves, 2.53 goals-to-average, and 16 closes. Fleury has faced the Capitals in the post-season twice with the Penguins (both in the second round; 2009, 2017) and once in the Stanley Cup Final (with the Golden Knights in 2018). Florey helped the Penguins win both series in seven games.

Due to his past history against the franchise and the fact that Pittsburgh is still in his heart, Florey was reluctant to waive his immobility clause to come to Washington despite numerous attempts by the capitals to obtain it. He has one year left on his contract that pays him $7 million per season.

The attackers tied Bagnotta’s capitals to the Winnipeg Jets center Andrew Cope (who has 12 goals, 28 points, and a 53.85% head-to-head win percentage in 47 games this season and 73 goals and 177 points in 458 regular season games), Seattle Kraken right winger Cali Jarnrock (10 goals, 20 points in 40 games this season and 104 goals and 231 points in 548 regular season games with the Kraken and Nashville Predators), and the Montreal Canadiens left winger. Arturi Laconin (Seven goals, 20 points in 48 games this season and 68 goals and 140 points in 386 regular season games).

Prior to this season, Jarnkrok, who holds a $2 million team-mate title at the end of the season and is 30 years old, reached a double-digit goal plateau in each of the past six seasons (having scored 15 goals in four of them) and a 30-point plateau. Four times over that distance with predators. He can also play in the middle and hails from Gavle, Sweden, the hometown of Niklas Backstrom.

Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman recently reported that the Capitals were looking to Kraken and Vancouver Canucks as potential business partners to improve their front group.

Lehkonen, 26, comes with a cap of $2.3 million for the remainder of the season before becoming a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Before scoring seven goals in each of the past two seasons, Likonen scored at least 11 goals in each of his first four seasons in the National Hockey League.

Kopp, 27, scored his career-highs in goals (15), assists (24) and points (39) in 55 games last season, scoring at least nine goals in six consecutive seasons and 10 goals in four consecutive games. He has also won nearly 52% of the fights he has fought in each of the past six seasons. Copp comes with a $3.64 million cap before it becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 17.

The Capitals have had goal-guiding issues this season despite a .9256 five-on-five keeping percentage ranked seventh in the NHL. Vitek Vanecek won the rookie job outside the coaching cap and started the season with a keeping ratio of 0.946 and 1.30 goal-to-average in his first three games but coughed up after leading 2-2-3 with an 897 save. 2.87 goals-to-average in his next seven games. Ilya Samsonov seemed to take the starting tuck when he went 7-1-0 with 0.929 saves and 2.11 goals-to-average over the next 11 games but he went 2-3-2 with 0.875 saves and 3.46 goals-to-average in his seven games coming. Zach Fucale had a chance to take the reins after leading 2-0 with a 0.980 save ratio and 0.42 goal-for-average in his first three NHL starts, including closing in his first game on November 11 in Detroit, but was replayed His appointment to the AHL’s Hershey Bears after losing 27:53 in a 7-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on January 10, when he allowed four goals from 16 shots, has not played since.

Vanecek got his starter job back as he’s 5-3-0 with 0.925 savings, 2.21 goals-to-average, and two closings since Dec. 16, but he hasn’t played since suffering an upper body injury in the first period of his 4-3 win time Overtime on Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. Samsonov has gone 4-2-0 with 0.917 saves and 3.03 goals-to-average since Vanessek, who trained with the Capitals on Tuesday, slipped. The Capitals haven’t had a true No. 1 goalkeeper they can look at since Philippe Grobur moved to the Colorado Avalanche after winning the Stanley Cup in 2018 and they need one as they try to salvage one of their final runs with their current core.

While Niklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Lars Eller and Nick Dodd make up one of the best positioning depth in the league, they have all lost time this season due to COVID-19 and injury. Prospects like Conor McMichael and Alexi Protas have done well in their rookie seasons, but the Capitals may prefer them on the wing where there is less pressure to be a solid defensive player. Both Backstrom and Kuznetsov missed some time during the last two Stanley Cup playoffs (Baxstrom played through a thigh injury in 2021), as the Capitals went 2-8.

In addition, the top six forwards Anthony Mantha and TJ O’Shea have missed 42 and 34 games, respectively, this season and have no set schedule even though they both started training with the team. Mantha has not communicated and will not travel on the next two-game road trip to DC but O’Shea did on Tuesday.

The Capitals currently have $1,913,334 in NHL salary cap space with Mantha on long-term injured reserve.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a huge CAPS fan, hockey lover, and has a passion for sports writing. He attended his first match at the age of eight and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest memories of the Hats were watching the Capitals lift the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, photographing and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077

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