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NHL Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals Rumors: Ryan Kesler Must Be Acquired At Any Cost Before Trade Deadline

NHL Trade Rumors Washington Capitals

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As the NHL Trade Deadline slowly creeps up, the Washington Capitals are surely trying to find a player or two to help the team leave behind mediocre and inconsistent play. After all, they are currently only one point out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, yet they have managed to win or lose three games eight consecutive times this year. That they can be so good and so bad on a whim is a source of frustration for Capitals fans and leaves the team in need of a steady force to get them consistently going in the right direction.

This steady presence has seemed to poke its head out of the woods in the last day, as it has been reported that Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler reportedly asked for a trade earlier in the year and would like to move prior to the trade deadline passing at 3 p.m. ET on Mar. 5. While it will undoubtedly cost a big haul to bring in the American, the move looks to be just what the Capitals need.

Throughout the 2013-14 season, the Capitals have struggled to find secondary scoring behind Alexander Ovechkin as Joel Ward is the only other player on the team to even have notched 15 goals. Additionally, the Capitals have really struggled to find a third partner with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom on the first line, as neither Mikhail Grabovski nor Marcus Johansson has looked entirely comfortable in the role. The reason for this is certainly complex, but it appears that the two first line stalwarts are in dire need of a defensive stabilize. Ovechkin specifically lacks the willingness and ability to consistently shut down the opposition in his own zone.

While bringing in Kesler would not be an automatic fix to everything that ails the Capitals, he certainly has the ability to address the areas that have been the biggest problems this year. The 29-year-old is the epitome of a two-way, scrappy forward, as he loves to use his 6-foot-2, 202-pound frame to go into the corners, stand in front of the net and generally get under the skin of opponents.

Kesler certainly isn’t on the level of Backstrom or Ovechkin in terms of pure skill level, but he is a more than able body on the first line and would allow the two to enjoy an even more free flowing offensive game than they already do. Kesler has been very successful serving as the most defensive-minded player on the first line for much of the last decade as he has played alongside Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

In order to acquire the services of Kesler, the Capitals will certainly have to offer up a good haul as he is under contract through the 2015-16 season at an affordable $5 million cap hit, is a top line player and has a winning mentality.  Keeping this in mind, there is no doubting that McPhee will have to offer a first-round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, a youngster such as defenseman Connor Carrick who has top level potential and a mid-level veteran like Martin Erat or Eric Fehr.

Giving up this huge package would certainly be a huge haul for the Capitals, but it would provide the team with three top level centers in Backstrom, Grabovski and Kesler who could be interchanged with one moving to the wing.  Fortunately all three have experience at wing positions, although it must be said that Kesler would be certain to stay up the middle in either a first or second line role because of his physicality and responsibility on the defensive end. This would end up being a move that would stabilize the club’s top two lines, their power play and even help the club on defense all while making them a better team for the future as well.

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