Dillon, 29, has played 588 games in his nine-year NHL career split between the Dallas Stars and San Jose. In 59 games for the Sharks this season, he averaged 19:22 time on ice per game and tallied one goal and 13 assists. Dillon is also ninth in the NHL with 178 hits.
Dillon is a pending unrestricted free agent after this season, making him a rental for Washington’s playoff push at the very least. His contract’s average annual value this year was $3,270,000, according to the salary cap site Cap Friendly, but San Jose retained 50 percent of Dillon’s salary and cap hit.
The Capitals have struggled defensively throughout the year and sought an upgrade for their second defensive pair, where neither Nick Jensen nor Radko Gudas particularly shined in their opportunities this year.
In every season since taking over as Washington’s general manager in 2014, Brian MacLellan has acquired a defenseman before the NHL trade deadline. That pattern continued this season, as the Capitals landed Dillon six days before the deadline.
“Brenden is an experienced defenseman who plays a solid defensive game with a high compete level and physicality,” MacLellan said in a statement. “We felt it was important for us to add a player of his caliber to our defensive group.”
Dillon, a widely rumored trade target, fought back tears Monday when asked if he might have played his last game for the Sharks. But he was still in the Sharks’ facility Tuesday when news of the trade broke, and he said he was “really excited” to join Washington.
“I can’t wait to get out there,” he told reporters in San Jose. “Obviously the opportunity, the team, the group - yeah, what an opportunity.”
The Capitals are just 15th in the league with 3.02 goals allowed per game, but have given up 36 goals in 10 games since returning from the All-Star break. Capitals players have attributed it to giving up too many odd-man rushes, defending goalies Braden Holtby and Ilya Samsonov — each of whom got burned for five or more goals in the Capitals‘ two most recent home games, a 7-2 loss to the Flyers and a 5-3 defeat to the Islanders.
“It’s not because of our goalies,” Capitals center Lars Eller said. “It’s because we’re losing races, we’re not winning battles in front of the net, we’re not boxing out, so whether it’s tips or it’s 2-on-1s or 3-on-2s, we’re getting beat just a couple feet.”
Earlier Tuesday, another defenseman the Capitals might have coveted, right-shot Dylan DeMelo of the Ottawa Senators, was traded to the Winnipeg Jets.
TSN reporter Pierre LeBrun said that if the Capitals win the 2020 Stanley Cup, the conditional 2021 third-round pick will become a 2020 third-rounder instead.
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