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Capitals Controversial Trade


By — Joey Hudson

The Washington Capitals recent trade with the Detroit Red Wings stirred up a lot of backlash and controversy among Capitals fans. In the trade made April 21, 2021, the Capitals traded a 2021 First-Round Pick and a 2022 Second-Round Pick in the upcoming drafts, as well as two of their forwards, Richard Panik and Jakub Vrana in exchange for one of Detroit’s forwards, Anthony Mantha. 

The majority of the controversy came from the decision of trading Jakub Vrana. Vrana, who was drafted by the Capitals in 2014 and officially started to play for the Capitals in the 2016-2017 NHL season, quickly became a fan favorite among the Capitals fans for his impressive performance during games as well as his likable personality. 

The decision of trading Vrana ultimately was due to many problems the young player was experiencing. The Capitals new coach, Peter Laviolette, and Vrana were both having many disagreements between the two. Not only was Vrana’s overall play time decreased to 10 minutes per game, but during two back to back games with the New Jersey Devils, Vrana was a healthy scratch in both games due to Laviolette. 

In hockey, a healthy scratch is when a player who is uninjuried is kept out of the games roster and is sat out of the game. Laviolette told the press that his decision to sit Vrana out was due to a lack of competitiveness in recent games and Laviolette hoped that sitting Vrana out would, “reignite a fire inside of his game,” as said by Laviolette. This isn’t the first time Vrana was scratched from games from previous coaches. In 2017, Barry Trotz, one of the Capitals former coaches, also scratched Vrana for multiple games that season.

Vrana’s contract was another detriment that led to him being traded. Vrana’s contract was going to be up by the end of the season, making him a Free Agent. And with the current cap space issues the Capitals are facing, there wouldn’t have been enough money to re-sign both Vrana and Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals captain, whose contract is also expired by the end of this season. 

The loss of Ovechkin would have been a greater loss than Vrana as Ovechkin is currently one of the highest goal scorers overall in the NHL, who is currently 6th in highest amount of goals with 728 goals in all his seasons. Ovechkin has also built up the Capitals franchise and is a key focal point for the team in terms of unity and getting goals on the board. 

Many fans of the Capitals and Vrana didn’t hold back to express their disappointment and anger for the trade on the Capitals social media. While many of the comments were about Vrana, many of the comments were also directed towards Mantha as well as calling for the Capitals to fire their general manager, Brian MacLellan. 

One user on Instagram wrote, “Who would make this deal? This is like trading a PS5 for a paper clip.” Another comment said, “Shame on you guys for trading Vrana and the draft picks. Dude’s (Mantha) been playing on the fourth line for THE DETROIT RED WINGS this entire season. Fire the GM Brian MacLellan right now he deserves it.” 

In his first 3 games with the Capitals, Mantha has scored one goal in each game, as well as getting one assist. The impressive performance from Mantha so far has silenced a lot of his doubters who were previously blaming him for Vrana’s trade. Vrana also debuted in his first game with the Red Wings on Thursday, who also managed to score a goal on a breakaway after serving a penalty.

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