5 Players the Washington Capitals Should Target at NHL Trade Deadline

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Washington Capitals Look to Improve Roster at NHL Trade Deadline

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The current season has been one of extreme disappointment for the Washington Capitals as they have been consistently inconsistent and have won or lost three consecutive games eight different times. Along the way the Capitals have struggled in all three facets of the ice, gone in and out of the race for the playoffs and they currently sit one point out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with the Olympic break now finished.

With the NHL Trade Deadline set to pass on Mar. 5, 2014, at 3 p.m. ET, time is running out for the Capitals to upgrade their team for a playoff run. And it is clear they could use help in all ends of the ice.

In terms of their forwards, the Capitals have received great play from Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom but not been able to provide them with a permanent third linemate, with Marcus Johansson and Mikhail Grabovski receiving the biggest opportunities. Neither player has been able to get a grasp on the spot, though, and it has been made utterly clear that the Capitals need to bring in another impact goalscorer when one watches Washington's power play which lacks a clear second option to shoot the puck. Bringing in a veteran goalscorer should be recognized as a priority at this point.

On the defensive end of the ice, the Capitals are left in the same position they seem to be in every year as Mike Green isn't a solid enough defenseman to be played without a defensive stalwart on the first pairing. Yet Washington doesn't have anyone to really pair him with. Both John Carlson and Karl Alzner are good defensemen, but at this point they are really better suited to be an above average pairing on the second line than a misfit on the first line. With Dmitry Orlov looking to be too offensive-minded to team up with Green, it is clear the Capitals need to bring in a defenseman who is defensive-minded to get big minutes the rest of the way.

Meanwhile in goal, the Capitals have three young and talented goalies in Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Philipp Grubauer, but none has been able to take the reins this year. Each has struggled through bad form, lack of trust from Adam Oates and at times even looked to find reasons why they shouldn't be the permanent starter. That Washington ranks 22nd in goals allowed and 17th in penalty kill percentage in the NHL is not all the goaltenders' fault, but they certainly deserve a portion of the blame. Bringing in a veteran with playoff experience here could be the biggest necessity of all.

After identifying each of these issues, it is clear that the Washington Capitals could use help all over the ice, but realistically fixing each issue would be both impossible and unnecessary. It will be up to general manager George McPhee to pick up one or two true impact players while still managing to stay under the salary cap -- which will be difficult considering the organization is only $2.24 million away from it currently.

Keeping the need to acquire impact players in mind, I have formed a list of the five players that McPhee should set out to acquire at the NHL Trade Deadline. Enjoy!

Tyler Leli is a Washington Capitals writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter, "Like" him on Facebook or join his network on Google.

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5. Andrew MacDonald

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New York Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald would be a wise pickup for the Capitals, as he could slot right in alongside Mike Green. Despite not being a physical specimen at 6-foot, 185-pounds, MacDonald has a very active stick, knows how to throw the body around, is disciplined in the defensive end and can be a threat with the puck. Additionally, he is used to playing heavy minutes -- he is averaging 25:33 per game this year -- and proved last year against the Pittsburgh Penguins that he can succeed in the playoffs. The 27-year-old could likely be had for a decent prospect and a second-round draft pick, and with a $550,000 cap hit he wouldn't stretch the cap and could be re-signed for years to come.

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4. Thomas Vanek

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Despite just joining the New York Islanders this year, Thomas Vanek is already approaching the exit door; and the Capitals could swoop in for his services. The 30-year-old winger is a natural born goal scorer who relishes going to the front of the net and can battle in the corners. In order to get Vanek's services, the Capitals will have to trade a first and second round pick and figure out how to balance his $7.1 million cap hit, but the organization would have a lethal first line and power play with him playing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin.

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3. Jaromir Jagr

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In what very well could be the last year of his career, Jaromir Jagr is likely to be traded as the New Jersey Devils slowly concede they aren't genuine contenders. Clearly at 42-years-old, Jagr isn't as quick as he used to be, but he still provides a goal threat, has an eye for teammates, is one of the best players on the power play in the NHL and knows how to handle the pressure of playoff hockey. It would be very interesting to see him come back to Washington to finish off his career, and Jagr should be able to be had with a third to fifth round pick.

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2. Matt Moulson

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Buffalo Sabres forward Matt Moulson is the epitome of a natural born goalscorer as he works hard around the net, crashes the net and has a natural ability to finish. The 30-year-old also has played with a genuine superstar before alongside John Tavares with the New York Islanders and would likely relish playing alongside Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. The Capitals would easily be able to fit Moulson's $3.133 million cap hit into their books, although acquiring him could mean giving up a top round pick or solid young player for the rental player.

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1. Ryan Miller

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Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller is the undoubted top player on the trade market this year, and for good reason. The 33-year-old is one of the best goalies in the world as he has the mix of size, agility and shot-stopping ability to both ensure a playoff appearance and win a playoff series or two by himself. Bringing him in would require the Capitals to give up a mini-ransom as they will likely have to give up one of their three young goaltenders, a high draft pick and get them to take on a bad contract to level out Miller's $6.25 million cap hit.

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