By JIMMY GOLEN and STEPHEN WHYNO AP Sports Writers
BOSTON (AP) — The NHL’s best team just got bigger and tougher.
Already on their way to one of the best seasons in hockey history, the Boston Bruins acquired defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway from the Washington Capitals on Thursday in exchange for forward Craig Smith and three draft choices. It’s the latest big acquisition by an Eastern Conference contender as the league approaches the March 3 trade deadline.
“Let’s hope we stay healthy and try to take a run, play our best hockey at the right time,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said in a call with reporters. “It’s going to be a hard path. It’s a hard path to get in. It’s even harder once you are in.”
Boston sent a 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 second-rounder, a 2025 third-rounder and Smith to Washington. The Capitals retained half of Orlov’s salary and Minnesota will pay 25%; the Wild will receive a 2023 fifth-rounder for helping Boston stay under the cap.
Sweeney said Orlov and Garnet were arranging travel so they can join the Bruins on on their four-game trip, which began Thursday night against Seattle. They will join the team with the NHL’s best record after leaving one that won it all in 2018 but hasn’t gotten out of the first round since and is struggling to get into postseason position this season.
“They’ve been a ridiculously competitive and successful part of the (Capitals) organization,” Sweeney said. “So (they’re) a little bit shocked. But once they hear the excitement in our voice in bringing them on board, it quickly shifts.”
With a 43-8-5 record and 91 points heading into the Kraken game, the Bruins have shown few weaknesses. But the memories of recent playoff disappointments left Sweeney worried about depth — especially on defense — heading into what he hopes will be a long postseason run.
“I think we were trying to attack two different areas,” Sweeney said. “Dmitry and Garnet can bring some attributes in our group. Now we try to stay healthy and take a run.”
The Capitals are selling at the trade deadline for the first time since Alex Ovechkin’s rookie year more than a decade and a half ago.
“This trade allows us to acquire draft capital, infuse youth and restock our system,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “While this season has proven challenging with injuries to our significant players, we are in a position to use some of our current assets to retool our club and build a competitive team moving forward.”
The Bruins have topped 100 points for four straight non-pandemic seasons but have made just one long playoff run, losing to the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. After falling in the first round last year, Sweeney fired coach Bruce Cassidy and replaced him with Jim Montgomery.
Despite starting the year without top scorer Brad Marchand and top defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who were both recovering from offseason surgery, the Bruins zoomed to the top of the NHL standings. They won 17 of their first 19 games and did not lose in regulation at home until Jan. 12.
“Our roster is battle-tested,” Sweeney said. “I think we can play any type of game against any type of team and we’re able to react accordingly or dictate accordingly. We were trying to complement and add to that.”
Orlov, 31, was a homegrown player for Washington and helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 2018. Hathaway, 31, has played on the Capitals’ fourth line for the past four seasons.
“Dmitry has been with our organization for almost 14 years and was a key contributor in helping us win the Stanley Cup,” MacLellan said. “Garnet has been an important part of our team and a role model off the ice for his contributions to our community. We wish both players all the best with Boston.”
Orlov was officially traded from Washington to Minnesota and then on to Boston, with the Wild sending 2017 pick Andrei Svetlakov to the Bruins. Sweeney said he didn’t have any indication that Svetlakov, who’s playing in the KHL, would be leaving Russia.
The Wild got a draft pick for helping facilitate a trade for the second time in less than a week. The Wild got a 2025 fourth-round pick from Toronto for retaining salary in the deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly and ex-Bruins forward Noel Acciari from St. Louis to the Maple Leafs.
Whyno reported from Washington.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports