Published February 29, 2016
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) The Washington Capitals continued to stock up for a potential playoff run by acquiring forward Daniel Winnik from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a deal that sent away their longest tenured player.
The Capitals traded forward Brooks Laich, defenseman Connor Carrick and a 2016 second-round pick to Toronto for Winnik and a 2016 fifth-round pick. The move represents an upgrade for the NHL's top team and also opens up salary-cap space ahead of the trade deadline.
Winnik, 30, has four goals and 10 assists in 56 games for the Maple Leafs this season. Toronto traded him at the 2015 deadline, re-signed him last summer and flipped him to Washington.
''Daniel is a versatile player who plays with grit and can be used in all situations,'' Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. ''This move enables us to add some depth to our forward group and balances our lineup.''
MacLellan also thanked Laich for his contributions over the past 10 years. Laich has been with the Capitals since they acquired him for Peter Bondra in 2004. Alex Ovechkin was drafted a few months later.
''We make this team together!'' Ovechkin said on Twitter. ''(I'm) gonna miss (you) bro good luck to (you)! Gonna miss (you)!''
Laich has had his career derailed by injuries. He has just a goal and six assists in 60 games this season and is in the midst of a 48-game goal drought. He cleared waivers Sunday.
By trading Laich and the 21-year-old Carrick for Winnik, the Capitals opened up $2.2 million in cap space they could use before the deadline. Winnik and Laich are each signed for next season, as well.