Capitals pick up LW Penner, dump RW Erat in trades

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 4, 2014 at 7:57 pm •  Published: March 4, 2014

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — In danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007, the Washington Capitals added forward Dustin Penner in a deal with the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, while also trading disgruntled forward Martin Erat to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Penner could be the left wing that the Capitals put on their top line alongside right wing Alex Ovechkin, the NHL's leading goal scorer, and center Nicklas Backstrom.

The Capitals began Tuesday in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one spot away from a postseason berth. The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday, and Washington was expected to try to improve its defense.

Ovechkin tops the NHL with 43 goals, and Backstrom is third with 48 assists. Both entered Tuesday ranked in the league's top 10 in total points — Ovechkin has 65, Backstrom 60. But Washington's defense has been a real problem: Only five of the other 29 teams in the NHL have allowed more goals this season.

General manager George McPhee began his maneuvering a day ahead of the deadline by working on his offense, giving up a fourth-round pick in the next draft for Penner, who amounts to a 20-game rental, essentially. He signed a $2 million, one-year contract last year and can become a free agent this summer.

The draft pick originally belonged to Anaheim, which had given it to Washington in September in a deal that sent forward Mathieu Perreault to the Ducks.

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