WASHINGTON — Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan didn't feel any pressure to make a move before today's trading deadline because of Washington's impressive collection of talent.
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What MacLellan did feel was a sense of urgency that the window is closing for the Capitals to win a Stanley Cup with Alex Ovechkin and the current group of players. So he targeted the top player available and acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from the Blues.
The NHL-leading Capitals get another weapon in Shattenkirk, and the only thing that will make the 2017 playoffs successful for talent-rich Washington, MacLellan bluntly said, is "winning a championship."
"They didn't bring me in to save anything," Shattenkirk said before making his Capitals debut Tuesday night against the Rangers. "They're the best team in the NHL right now. I just have to make sure I'm coming in and doing what I do best for a hockey team."
In the weeks leading up to the trade deadline Wednesday, Capitals players saw no glaring needs. Reigning Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Braden Holtby is on top of his game, Ovechkin and sidekick Nicklas Backstrom are thriving with more forward depth, and the Capitals' defense was full of top-end talent and seven players deep.
MacLellan sounded content just to "upgrade on the fringes" and not make any major moves. But Shattenkirk, a 28-year-old puck-mover with offensive punch, was too good to pass up as potentially the final piece of the elusive championship puzzle.
"I thought if there was one guy that could make our team better, it was him," MacLellan said.
Giving up young forward Zach Sanford and at least a 2017 first-round draft pick in the trade seemingly is a small price to pay for Shattenkirk and the morale boost it gives the Capitals. Defenseman Karl Alzner described the mood on the ice for the morning skate at Madison Square Garden as "almost giddy" and internally plenty of quiet confidence.
The Capitals have eight first- or second-round playoffs exits in as many chances dating to 2008.
Coyote takes off on stretcher: Coyotes forward Alexander Burmistrov was taken off on a stretcher after a hit from Bruins defenseman Colin Miller on Tuesday night left him motionless on the ice for several minutes. Burmistrov gave a thumbs-up with both hands as he was wheeled off the TD Garden ice. The Coyotes said he was taken to a hospital for further evaluation. Burmistrov received a pass and had just sent the puck along when Miller went into him sideways and knocked him down. Burmistrov landed on his back and rolled partially onto his side, but otherwise did not move. Miller was given five minutes for charging and thrown out of the game.
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